Sunday, October 14, 2012

My solo adventure in New York City

So the past few weekends have been a little bit on the tame side.  Many of the plans I've tried to arrange have fallen through at the last minute, or quite simply everybody has been away certain weekends, leaving me with nothing to do.  I was determined to make sure I did SOMETHING fun this weekend, and when my intentions to go to an Oktoberfest celebration fell through, I decided to go on an unplanned adventure in New York City.

While I travel to the city quite frequently, I constantly remark that I don't take advantage of living so close to the city.  Yeah, I'll go there some Friday or Saturday nights to hang out with some friends at some bar, but there's so much more to the city than it's burgeoning social scene.  So I jumped into the car, crossed the bridge, and walked around to see what adventures would befall me.  The weather was perfect -- not so cold that it was uncomfortable, but cold enough that you knew you were outside.  And when I returned home a few hours later, it was with quite a few stories to tell.

The first really noteworthy thing happened while walking down 5th Avenue.  I was approached by a Jamaican guy, who handed me a CD and said, "take this, it's free."  I normally say "not interested" in this situation, but for whatever reason I took it.  He then immediately said, "here, let me sign it for you" and proceeded to add his signature.  He then pointed out his Facebook and MySpace (haha) page before asking my name.  I told him "Matt," and he proceeded to write my name on the CD.  He then says, "Now don't feel pressure to make a donation, but I'll accept whatever you're willing to give."  Knowing I only had 20's in my pocket, I told him I only had change.  He said "that's fine."  I then clarified and said, "Like, only coins."  He then asked how much.  I reached into my pocket and took out a stack of coins, almost all of which were pennies.  He looked at me disgustedly, took the CD back, and walked away.  The two things I found particularly humorous were the fact that (a) he personally signed my name on it, meaning he now has to find a new person named Matt go give the CD to, and (b) the fact that he didn't even say "thank you" or "good bye."  He just took the CD back and walked away disgustedly.

The nerve of me to not give him money for something I never asked for!

Later on, I decided to sit down at one of the tables set up outside the New York Public Library.  I sat down, wrote down some thoughts, and people watched.  A woman sitting a couple of tables ahead of me was feeding the pigeons, and when she left, they clearly expected me to pick up the slack, as they began to swarm around me.  I was a little surprised -- and slightly uncomfortable -- with how many of these came around me, and how close they were.  Honestly, I could just about reach out and grab these things.  It really was a good thing that these things don't freak me out.

One of the true unexpected highlights, however, came when walking past Bryant Park.  For whatever reason, the old-timey looking outdoor carousel really caught my eye.  I don't quite know why.  I think it was just seeing one outside that captured my attention.  So I walked into the park and started walking around.  While walking, I came across Southwest Porch, a very small outdoor bar.  I love outdoor bars, and since the original intention of the day was to attend an Oktoberfest celebration, I thought I would enjoy a beer.  Plus, the place was so small and charming, with only three bars on tap.  There was an empty seat at the bar, and I took it.  I sat down and enjoyed a nice outdoor beer, while observing the park and streets of New York City.  It was quite illuminating and peaceful.

Bryant Park was actually quite cool, to tell you the truth.  They even have ping pong tables set up, where people can play each other.  Pretty neat, I'd like to visit there again before it gets too cold.

Of course, following the beer, I really, really had to pee.  So my new mission became to find a place that I could sneak inside of so that I could use their bathrooms.  My first attempt was at a nearby Duane Reade.  And while I couldn't find a bathroom to use, what did I find?  None other than Jenna Fischer, who you probably know as Pam on The Office.  Well, I'm about 98% certain that was her, anyway.  You know what?  I'm upgrading that to 100%.  It was totally her, no doubt about it (and for those of you wondering, I ended up sneaking into a McDonald's and using their bathroom).

As I walked back towards my car, I saw a giant inflatable pumpkin set up outside Playwright Celtic Pub, and that was enough to allure me inside.  I had a Miller Lite, and as I left, I got the strangest sense of deja vu.  I think I've been to that place before.  In fact, I think that's the place we went to for our office Christmas party, where I accidentally hit one of the bus boys when I was trying to put my arm over somebody's shoulders.  I don't know for sure, but it felt very familiar.

My final story comes when I decided to grab a soft pretzel from a street vendor.  When I reached into my pocket to pull out a $20, it tore as the corner hooked onto my money clip.  I then handed him a clean $20.  The guy very kindly told me to give me the torn $20 instead, so that I wouldn't have to keep it.  I thought that was really cool of him.

So overall, it was a really fun day all by myself in the city.  I hit some sights I've never been to before, and it ended up being a really good time.  There are a few places -- like the bar in Bryant Park -- that I'd like to meet friends at some time.  It seems like a fun, chill place to hang out at for an hour or so on a Saturday afternoon.  It was a cool experience.

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