Thursday, August 03, 2006

The New York Exception

Myself and my girlfriends just got back from an exciting 3 night trip to NYC. While there we saw Harry, Carrie & Garp, a benefit reading by writing behemoths Stephen King, John Irving and JK Rowling.


Six thousand people packed into Radio City Music Hall, all rabid booklovers, and you could hear a pin drop during the readings! We were surprised by many celebrity hosts including Whoopie Goldberg, Cathy Bates & John Stewart (OMG I LOVE HIM SOOOO MUCH--I LIKE FREAKED OUT!)So, yes, the show was great and unforgettable. I just love seeing my idols act so human, with their smiles, and embarassed grins, and stumbling answers, and the true joy they feel at recieving a standing ovation. JKR had tears in her eyes, and I will never forget the way she cheekily showed off her sandals with the straps styled as snakes! Or when Stephen King, in the middle of a particularly gross part of his reading, stopped and announced bewilderedly "who WRITES this stuff??!!" Or when John Irving did voices for his reading, including Owen Meany's high-pitched, broken squealy voice, and started to laugh along with the audience. It was truly, a once in a lifetime experience, and the best show I have seen in my whole life. *Sigh*

I am simply overflowing with stories about our adventures in NYC... the first store we stepped into had 2 people handcuffed near the register with an officer radioing in the arrest (oh, no one even really noticed this! the shopping continued as if nothing were amiss!) We almost got picked up by this wierdo in an 'unlicensed' cab! Our tourguide even started using his microphone to scream at the drivers in a traffic jam! Yes, New Yorkers are insane. (Sorry New Yorkers!)

But it was better than what we encountered in New Jersey, where we stayed. The people there are, I didn't meet everyone in New Jersey, just a dozen or so, but each of them was abrupt and frightening in their own, unique way. Every gas station attendant was rude. Every toll booth operator was angry. The guy at the hotel desk was abrupt. Even the waitress, who was obviously TRYING to be nice, was doing so in a loud and intimidating way. (Am I making any sense?) Anyhow, it was severe culture shock! Yes, working is hard and demanding, but shouldn't a smile beget a smile? Doesn't a 'Thank-you' beget a 'You're welcome'? Shouldn't a humble 'please?' beget an understanding 'smile and nod'? It does where I come from. It's those little exchanges that reaffirm that feeling of "I am human and you are human too, and we are going to cooperate for the brief time that we are in each other's service". For we are forever in each other's service, giving and taking, offering and receiving, with total strangers, and courtesy makes those interactions more gentle, in a small way.

And that's the problem. Common courtesy was sadly, vacant. I guess scraping out a living with millions of other people trying to scam you and take what's yours makes them hard? I got the feeling that "protecting me and mine" was the only motivating factor.

But to every rule, there is the exception. There was one tollbooth operator, the last one before we left NJ, who paused and smiled at me. He asked us where we were off to, and we told him we were heading back to Canada. He laughed, and asked if the heat was driving us off (it was a heat wave there). I laughed and said, yes, and that we were looking forward to some good old Canadian snow. He chuckled at my lame-ass joke. Then, as he gave me my change, his demeanour changed. He looked thoughtfully out at the crowded, fast-moving highway. He turned, looked me in the eye, his brow furrowed, concern and care evident in his voice. "Ya'll have a safe trip home ladies, ya' hear?"

And I heard.


At 4:59 PM , Blogger jellyhead said...

Great post, Franny.

It sounds like a wonderful trip - I'm so glad you had some time away, AND did such amazing things. The book readings must have been awe-inspiring!

I'm glad you made it safely home, too, ya hear?!

At 5:21 PM , Blogger Kimberly said...

we made it!!! safe and sound and packed full of some awesome memories...who could forget "currant", the death shuttle, or the awful tasting "cawfee"!

I'm so glad we took this chance of a lifetime and made the most of it!

At 7:56 PM , Blogger Motherkitty said...

I am so insanely jealous I can barely speak or breathe. YOU ACTUALLY SAW JK ROWLING AND STEVEN KING IN PERSON?????? They are my two all-time favorites in the world bar none. I have every book they each have written (and read them all). What a fantastic trip you and your girlfriends had!!!

I am sorry you were confronted with many ill-mannered, over-stressed, over-heated individuals who treated you like crap. That shouldn't be the way it happened, but that's life in NYC. That's one of the reasons I left there in 1965 and moved back to Chicago. Couldn't stand the aloofness and loneliness that comes with the territory.

Glad you are back, though, and glad you had such a great experience.

Thanks for sharing with us. (Did you take any pictures?)

At 10:55 PM , Blogger Karen said...

Hey Franny...It was a great trip. And remember, what happened in NYC, stays in NYC!

At 12:54 AM , Blogger MrsGreenThumb said...

Forget the boors and concentrate on the wonderful part of your trip. What a great experience, I think those celebrities appreciated your presence. Doesn't it feel good that you and your friends have something to share and reminisce over in years to come? Your adventure sounds like a hoot! Even the jerks added color to your stories.

At 10:00 AM , Blogger Abandoned in Pasadena said...

I am jealous too of the readings you got to attend. What a wonderful experience to get to see so many celebreties.

You just ran across the wrong people at the wrong time. I've heard that, that is their temperament too, but I know a wonderful New Yorker that is fabulous...but she lives in the country. Who wouldn't be upset living in a concrete jungle.
OH, I'm sorry...You said the people of NJ were jerks.

Very good post Franny.


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