Just going through my luggage, clearing out some things to make way for enlightenment
Monday, April 17, 2006Road Trip
I love a road trip. After all those endless rides to Georgia while growing up, the highway is in my blood. So it was not a problem when Crofton called to say, "Let's go to New York for Easter." Bobby and I packed light bags and pumped on up to Crofton's to jump in his car and begin the drive.
Due to the holiday weekend, traffic was kinda thick, but Crofton managed to do 80 mph all the way up, his flow broken only by the senseless tolls that spring up to take your coins like a crackhead cousin your mama makes the mistake of telling you're in town. Traffic didn't get really sluggish until we jumped on the BQE to get to the LIE to drop Crofton's friend at his fam's home on Long Island.
I've been to Long Island before. My Aunt Frankie lived in Rockville Centre and Crofton owns property in Hempstead, both in Naussau County. We were both anticipating a hour delay to our foray into Manhattan. We were mistaken in our estimation. We simply assumed that Dude lived near where we were used to going. WRONG! We ended up at exit 63 on the Long Island Expressway. I don't remember the name of the town but we were in the middle of no damn where. We passed a Charismatic Catholic Church. What the hell is that? The best I can gather is they are COGIC Catholics. Somebody tell me how that works.
Anyway we rode and rode through what looked like the forest Hansel and Gretel got lost in. All at once we turned a corner and there was a neighborhood with nice little well-kept homes. It looked like a decent place to live, but I wonder how Dude got anywhere living out there. My guess is that he got back and forth by stage coach. After finally dropping him at Grandma's we pumped on back to Washington Heights, where we were staying at a friend's apartment.
After settling in, Bobby hopped on the train and went to meet up with some friends. I stayed behind with Crofton to unwind a little. Eventually we decided to go downtown to have a fat girl snack. We ended up at Rafaella's in the Village. The food was great, but the service was awful. I think we waited a half hour for our check. It was okay though because Bobby, Torah and Borris joined us and then my good friend Corey passed by with his friend Dee, both up and coming actors. Corey is in a soon-to-be-released film starring RuPaul and Dee was in a film released last year. The title of which I can't recall. I'm not sure how well it did in box office, but I hear the DVD sales were off the charts. I also ran into Michael, a sweet young man from Harlem that I met through Lawrence. It always amazes me that Lawrence lives in North Carolina and knows more people in New York than me and I lived in NJ most of my life.
Dee, Me & Corey
Borris, Torah & Bobby
To burn off the meal we decided to walk the hoe stroll. Christopher Street was many things that day. The NYPD had officers on horseback in anticipation of the craziness that would ensue once the sun went down and the pageant began. No shade, but it appeared to be already in progress. The kids were walking categories in broad daylight. Midway down the stroll we ducked into a bar to pour libation. Crofton's friend, Mario, having heard through the grapevine that he was in town, joined us. Mario is absolutely hilarious. He's the nephew of Judge Mablean Evans of Divorce Court. He was picking up his Easter Sunday gear when he got wind of Crofton's impromptu visit and came looking for him.
While standing in a dark corner sipping on a Heineken, who pops up but ShawnQT and Fuzzy, looking just a little too cute and young to be in a dark Christopher Street bar on a bright sunny day. Once they told me Omar was outside we hit the sidewalk to talk, bask in the sunshine and watch the prelims for the evening performances. Before we went in separate directions, I invited them to Easter dinner.
Shawn, Fuzzy & Omar
Bobby rode with Torah back over to the broken land (that's the Dutch translation for Brooklyn). I tagged with Mario and Crofton, who was supposed to be meeting up with his cousin in Harlem. We stopped at Mario's gym so that he could get the bags he'd been carrying. I learned something new and useful that afternoon. Mario lives in Inwood, which is the last stop on the A train in Manhattan. If he wants to dine or just chill with friends before hopping the train home, he will drop whatever he's carrying in his gym locker and retrieve it before heading for the train. Sometimes he will check a bag at one of the better midtown hotels under the pretense of checking in later. When he goes back to get his stuff he just tells them he had the wrong hotel (this works best with the Sheratons in Times Square that are directly across from each other).
While walking 8th Ave toward the train we decide to stop for a fat girl snack and a cocktail at Intermezzo, a lovely Chelsea bar/restaurant. The manager and bartender greet Crofton like the ushers at your childhood church when you visit on a holiday (seems he drank... I mean ate there quite a bit when he lived around the corner). Me and Mario shared a plate of mussels and proceeded to sop up the buttery juice with two plates of very good good bread... just kuntry! Already buzzing from the single Heineken I sipped on earlier (I don't drink), I decide to be grown and have a Cape Cod with Crofton. Mario had given up alcohol for lent along with some other stuff... "Child, I need some things," he explained.
Meanwhile, we are joined by Crofton's friend, Kuba who lives in the neighborhood. He gets the same warm hospitality from the management of the establishment. The next hour or so was spent in good conversation. Once Mario and I had sopped the bowl dry and cocktails were finished, we decide to head someplace else. Mario had to get home so we walked him to the train. Since I was just a little tipsy (I can't put away the juice like I used to), we elected to head to Kuba's where we proceeded to drain a very good bottle of red wine wine. We were joined by Crofton's friend, Jeff, whom we'd bumped into at Rafaella's earlier. We talked about everything from the state of the union to the failure of education. It was an orgy of minds.
By midnight I was good and buzzed. So we hopped the train back up to Washington Heights to turn in, but not before stopping by the chicken shack for a fat girl snack. By this time, Bobby is irritated because my evening has been nothing like I described it would be and he was ready come back to Manhattan to get some rest. When he arrives and is safely in the apartment, I pass the hell out.
I always get the same feeling of renewal on Resurrection Sunday. My plan to attend sunrise Easter service was foiled by the devil, but he couldn't steal my joy that Jesus died to blot out my sin and rose to justify me. We got up and tipped on over to the Twin Donut for some coffee and... well you know how we roll by now. Twin Donut has hateful coffee. It's like the concoction in that cloudy carafe in the break room at work, but the donuts are strangely reminiscent of the better franchise. On the way to my aunt's for dinner we had to stop at Starbucks so that Bobby and Crofton could get some super unleaded.
My Aunt Jane always puts out a spread. This year was strangely quiet due to the absence of the great aunts (they don't travel as well they used to), but it didn't stop us from dining on a sumptious meal of ham, turkey and the lamb that was slain. Omar joined us. It was a great meal.
Crofton, Aunt Jane & Bobby
After a drive-by visit to my mother's and grandmother's we pumped it to I 95 to get on back down to Maryland. The interstate was a parking lot so we diverted to my super secret short cut and made it home sans stress and tolls. Another great holiday weekend!