July 13, 2002

We woke up at 11:00.  Late as usual and horribly hung yet again.  Fortunately check out was at noon so we showered and collected ourselves before leaving our luggage in the hotel lobby.  We were blessed with another perfect day to be touristy.  We hiked down to the falls once more for pictures and magnificent views.  I was naïve to the amount of spray created by the falls.  We were drenched by the Horse Shoe Falls and could see surprisingly little of that portion from the American side.  We were certainly not going to set foot in Canada again so we got our best pictures and headed back to the airport.  Debbie, the helpful lady behind the desk who carried a striking resemblance to the 80’s woman from ‘Crocodile Dundee’ wore quite a bit more clothing than she had the previous evening.  She was very apologetic for not telling the cab she had called the name of our hotel.

We enthusiastically set a course for Tetiborough Airport in New

Jersey, the armpit of America, where we would briefly set foot before heading to our most eagerly anticipated destination, Manhattan.  The trip would be short and somewhat hectic with traffic from all over the tri-state area closing in on us.  That fact, coupled with the busy air traffic controllers and sheer nerve of traveling to a new, highly congested area made the two boys in the front of the plane somewhat uneasy.  They handled the situation famously and Pat touched down with ease amongst some of the most expensive private airplanes and experienced pilots in the country.  I cheered.  Well done!  We had made it.

The people of Million Air treated us well for about three seconds and then hastily changed their minds upon hearing that we flew a plane with propellers.  They gave us a ride to the nearby bus stop which put us directly enroute to Port Authority in Midtown, New York.  There we hopped a taxi and started to my old roommate’s apartment.  Pat’s eyes widened as we passed the sights he had only heard of and longed to see for so many years.  We were finally here.  We caught a glimpse of Times Square and later craned our necks to see the tallest parts of the Empire State Building from the confines of our taxi.  And so the onslaught of questions begins.  Where are we now?  Where are we going?  How do you know?  Where is ground zero from here?  Where is Wall Street from here? Where is central park?  How tall is the Empire State Building?  How tall were the World Trade Center buildings? Etc…  Keep in mind that this questioning maintained for the next 48 hours.  “Are we there yet,” said the kids in the back seat of the minivan.  That is just Pat.  It’s not a terribly bad thing.  I just didn’t know the answers to most of his questions.  Fortunately, we would later find out, Brad (the old room mate) was quite a bit more knowledgeable of the city and its intricacies.

Five dollars later we found Brad’s apartment in a supreme location near Union Square and Washington Square on 15th and 5th Ave.  He popped down stairs to let us in the building.  It’s amazing how we can change our surroundings but stay the same.  Yes Brad, it’s true…you haven’t changed a bit.  It was just like old times except for a new town and some new players.  His place was wonderful.  Great location, hardwood floors, one bedroom for $1800.  Not too shabby for downtown.  We quickly changed into tourist attire and made a B-line back to the Empire State building.  We figured the crowds would be tolerable at that hour so we made it our first priority.  We thought wrong.  After I bought a pair of pants to wear that night and Pat got his 1st opportunity to taste the best pizza in the world, we took yet another $10 elevator ride; this time at about half the speed of Chicago’s John Hancock Building.  The difference is in the noodles.  Once on top of New York’s tallest building (by default) Pat began his now common onslaught of questions that I couldn’t answer.  Enter Brad.  He appropriately played the part of the tour guide and told anecdotes accordingly.  After some pictures and the slow elevator ride down, we headed back to Brad’s to prepare for yet another drunken adventure.

I called Danielle, my ex-girlfriend, who is a queen of New York City and quite knowledgeable of every decent bar and club in the city.  An ex-bartender and line picker, Danielle got us on the guest list of a couple upper-end establishments.  I dictated the attire rules.  No one took me seriously (of course) but I tried to fake a knowledge of the requirements for going out in the Big Apple.  No jeans, sneakers, T-shirts, any of last year’s lines, and all of the other obvious crap that any bouncer would deny at his most convenient opportunity.

A moment to discuss the mentality of a door man:  Here is an individual whose only power lies in the one moment of accepting or rejecting the eager club go-er who waits patiently in line.  No one knows them between the hours of 4:00 AM and 11:00 PM.  But then, for that brief five hour stretch on Thursday – Saturday, they are the ‘keepers of entry’.

It’s hard enough getting into a club without a girl on each arm, it would be quite an amazing feat getting in with only poorly dressed guys.  Pat called a buddy from Auburn (Kurtis) who now works in Manhattan.  He showed up around 9:30 and we headed out an hour later (after far too much drinking).  Our first stop was a warm-up bar called Manray.  Within a block, we noticed the lack of doormen and sped inside to avoid Shawn’s under age issue.  The lounge was fabulous.  I was immediately motivated to buy our young accomplice his first New York drink.  I stepped to the bar and order two Vodka-Cranberries pulling out my twenty dollar bill as the bartender went to work.  He returned with our drinks and a $24 tab.  Welcome to the big city gentlemen.  We all drank slowly and were thankful to have gotten loopy before leaving Brad’s apartment.

Speaking of Brad…He tapped me on the shoulder early on and stated his intent to hurry home and pull the trigger.  He had put down too much, too fast and his night would end before it really got started.  We got a phone call from another of our friends living in the City, Jen.  We decided to meet her, her boyfriend and her sister at a restaurant/bar in the Village.  Once there, I sat in on a drunken discussion of the World Trade Center events of last September.  It was interesting to hear stories from locals who had been present at the time.  Our friend Kurtis ran over 60 blocks that day before he really realized he was even running.

The night eventually wound down and we stumbled back to Brad’s place.  In my mind, we had completed our visit to New York City.  I was only interested in the high energy night life… Pat had other ideas.