When we last saw our wayward adventurers, they had finally gotten some food and drink into their tortured bodies and were approaching some semblence of normalcy… Alas, that was not to continue for long!
Sadly, Erin had to depart, leaving Jenn and I to fend for ourselves… We headed back in the direction of the hotel, and discovered a street fair an avenue or two away from “home” that sprawled as far north as the eye could see… They had falafel (sp?), candy apples, lemonade stands, and many other food vendors lined up… all of which looked sketchy, in that charming kind of way. Then there were people selling their wares… lots and lots of wares… everything from iPod accessories to rugs to jewelry… And of course, handbags.
Jenn lost her damn mind.
Seriously, we must have stopped at every other booth there, to look at handbags. Apparently there was *THE ONE* that she simply had to find, and damned if the 9,141 handbags for sale weren’t simply a tease. (although to be fair, she did decide to buy several of those also, just for good measure) After a good long walk half-way up the street, I finally cried uncle and said I was turning around and checking out the side we missed on the way up… which brings me to the first of three massage booths.
Now, I’m a sucker for a massage. And shoulder massages on a chair are my FAVORITE. So when there’s a chair massage booth set up, with ten minutes for ten bucks, I’m there. INSTANTLY. And of course, I conned Jenn into joining me. Sadly, we had WILDLY different experiences… Hers was a pushy old guy who would apparently stop every 45 seconds to ask if she wanted to go ahead and have a longer massage… creepy. Mine was a young Asian kid who was either really friendly, trying to get a date, or really workin’ it for an extra buck or two in tip. Let’s skip ahead, I’m feeling uncomfortable just leading into that story….
Finally, our ten minutes is up. I’ve subtly moved my hand, arm, elbow, knee, etc AWAY from the kid a dozen times, and Jenn has beligerantly REFUSED the poor old guy’s repeated urges for a longer session. We continue our trek south, back towards 44th Street.
Side-note: I’m on a new computer. I’ve renounced my Mac ways (don’t be hatin’) for an HP. I blame Thijson – long story. Anyway, one thing I WILL miss about the Mac was the built-in spell-checker when blogging. Now I gotta actually pay attention… I must find a spell-checker on Internet Explorer now.
To continue: as we’re wandering back towards the hotel, we pass a ton of other vendors, and 234,238 more handbags… and two more massage places. So of course, now we’re terrified, because we know what sort of shenanigans they’re up to! And they just… keep… coming! Every thirty feet, six more middle-aged Asians jump out at us and shout “MASSAGE?!” It’s the stuff of bad horror movies.
And there’s a SMOOTHIE place! One thing I love almost as much as massages is smoothies. (Which is why once a month, on a Saturday, I go get a massage at Massage Envy in Charlotte, and stop at Smoothie King across the street. I’m a big fan of having a routine, it comforts me.) Note to self: a watermelon smoothie is, in fact, chunks of watermelon and ice in a blender. Jenn wanted to know what a watermelon smoothie tastes like… come to find out, it tastes like watermelon. Huh.
Anyway, we get back to the hotel, where we are exhausted and unattractive. By now Thijson and Jinilin have finally landed, and they’re off getting a snack. Jenn and I are starting to think ahead about FOOD food, since we only had a light “brunch” at noon. Jenn remembers reading about a fantastic Thai restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen in the Playbill from Spring Awakening, so I start rallying the troops. I’ll skip some of the grueling detail, but the short version is this: there are a BUNCH of us, and when we get to the restaurant they can’t hold us all. Fortunately they’ve got a “sister restaurant” (same owners I’m assuming) right around the corner, so we march over there and have them shove a bunch of tables together. Eventually we’re all there: me, Giles, Christina, Sean, Sean, Jason Green, Whitney, Sal, Thijs, Jinilin, and Jennifer. (I did that from memory, counter-clockwise. Go me!) Food is *AWESOME*. But more importantly…
OH MY GOD THAT’S ANTHONY RAPP THAT JUST WALKED PAST!
Yep. I freak out. FRRRREAK out. I won’t shut up about it for a good ten minutes. Not quite as thrilling as introducing myself to Adam Pascal in Century 21 (a clothing store by WTC/Ground Zero) in January, but I’m not knockin’ it. He was strolling past the restaurant, rockin’ out with his iPhone, lookin’ amazing as per usual. Especially exciting because in a short hour or so, we’re GOING TO SEE HIM ONSTAGE.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen… the original motivation for doing the trip this summer, Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp, the Roger and Mark from the original Broadway cast (and the eventual movie version). My hands ACHED by the end of the performance, because the audience practically gave a standing ovation after every song. There were times the dialogue had to actually wait because the audience wouldn’t stop screaming and cheering. It was absolutely breathtaking. The Mimi was probably the best one I’ve ever seen… Wasn’t loving the Maureen, but definitely still good. But Adam & Anthony were the show-stoppers, of course… Anthony gave the same performance every gay man has heard on the CD (and/or seen on the movie) which was outstanding, but Adam was just INCREDIBLE. He varied a lot of the notes, and inserted a real sense of urgency and passion into the performance.
So, after all of this Broadway amazement, it’s time to fulfill a promise… KARAOKE. We’ve put the Hell’s Kitchen Gays to work on finding a good place, and Sal comes through with a TERRIFIC option for us. It requires a subway ride, but we haven’t hit the subway yet so that’s awesome! Unfortunately, on the way to the train we lose Giles and Christina, who fell behind due to footware concerns, but were able to buy flip flops and rush to catch up. Hooray! Off we go, to Tracy J’s Watering Hole. As far as evenings go, this was my favorite evening of the trip. There was a big trunk full of PROPS for the karaoke, if that tells you anything.
Whitney and Sal each sing, and I know I’m going to catch hell for this, but I don’t remember their first songs… We were all sober, and I was focusing on doing a land-grab of table space anytime people LOOKED like they were getting up (but were in fact only tilting to scratch their asses or some such) That, and I’m giving half-impressed, half-annoyed looks to our server, who has PERFECTLY the art of brusk New Yorker-ness. She was a BITCH, but she was magnificent at it.
Two performances by strangers DO capture my attention. One is a couple of guys doing a rap song they had no business doing. The other is two young guys doing… New Kids on the Block. THE RIGHT STUFF. And this one adorably scruffy lookin’ guy in a trucker cap has all of the dance moves down and everything, PERFECTLY. Oh, oh, OH-OH oh… Oh, oh, OH OH! Awesome, especially since he was probably not even BORN when the song was popular.
The Seans arrive. They end up sitting at a different table, away from us, which offends my sense of comraderie. Our group continues expanding some more — I finally get to meet the infamous Missy!! — so there’s no chance of fitting in one table. I set about negotiations with the server to get us more space together, the best we can do is a SECOND table, on the other side of the karaoke stage, looking down at our first table. The Seans and I march up there, along with Erin (right?), Thijs, and Jinilin. Giles and Christina stay at our original table, with Sal and Missy. Whitney and Jenn stay down there too, I think. (I shouldn’t be so specific here, I know I’m gonna get an angry earful, but whatever) So now I’m forced to time-share between the two halfs of my collected group, which sucks… but it does put me closer to my scruffy NKotB dancer up top, who of course I find time to chat up for a hot minute.
Anyway, now the real performances kick in… Our boy Sal gets up there, with The Seans as his back-up chorus/dancers, and they do PROUD MARY. Oh… my… GOD. I peed a little. True story. They were goin’ to TOWN on it, too… no half-assed measures for these future divas, no ma’am. Great performance, guys, sincerely.
SOMEONE does Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Which is why, this morning, I find myself sitting in a conference room in a four-hour meeting/lesson about Bank of America’s financial statements, and I can’t get the song out of my head. (And to the charming gentleman who insisted, via txt msg, that I get up on the conference room table without warning and do the full choreography… you know who you are, and you are a BASTARD)
Another shameless plea to the rest of the gang: anybody know who actually did Thriller, for the record? I remember Giles and Christina doing bits of the dance at their table, but that’s probably just because I’ve seen the pictures 😛
Whitney gets up and does another song, but damn it, I can’t remember what it was… I just remember her goin’ balls-deep it on, dancing around the stage, flinging her hair, no holds barred… There’s a reason this girl loves karaoke — she gets INTO it, and WELL.
Speaking of which… Another performance that will live in infamy… Sal does “La Vida Loca” for us. And boy, does he do it… He gets a bunch of random girls from the audience up there (plus Whitney and Erin, I know that much) and is dancing with them during the song, and I’m pretty sure he got at least three of them pregnant. Not to mention Erin, who seemed to be a little uncomfortable sitting down for about an hour afterwards. Damn, Sal.
In between all the song-and-dance and camera wars, people are really having a great chance to mingle… I finally get to have a mostly-sober conversation with Sean 2, which was certainly a different experience than our drunken hysterics from the bar the night before. (“I’m sorry, I’m DRUNK, I’m so embarrassed!” will be stuck in my head for weeks! haha). Notes are exchanged between other gay men in the group, on actual paper, clarifying who thinks who is hot. I’m not making this up — I actually got to see one of the notes the next day. Yes, we’ve actually reverted all the way back to “I like you, do you like me? Check this box: [ ] YES [ ] NO [ ] MAYBE” at our age… but to be fair there was a TEN YEAR SPREAD between the youngest and oldest of the group, and that’s assuming I’m the oldest.
I get to spend a little time with Missy, which was delightful. Side note: I am so WASTED as a gay man, because my adoration for fabulous women (and their breasts) knows no bounds. Alas, I am sad that Tara-with-a-T was supposed to join the gang and did not… but that’s okay, ’cause she and I have been sending emails and IMs to each other ever since, so she’s forgiven.
Anyway, Thijs and Jinilin are tired, and rightfully so — they were getting up to come to NYC while the rest of us were still out from the night before, and had been up all day since. This means no performance from either of them, and me ‘n Giles watching Thijson perform on stage was the beginning of our collective friendship, so I’m sad that it doesn’t happen again ten years later in New York. But there’s always next time! Folks are getting tired, folks are getting drunk, folks are lookin’ to hook up (cough), so people start filing out. Off to the subway!
Now, we’re hammered. HAM-MER-RED. And feeling musical. And several of us are gay men, including the womenfolk. So what do we do? We burst into song on the way down to, and on, the subway. And walking onto the train, of course we’re drawn to the scene from the movie version of RENT, where they staged “Santa Fe”. Picture a bunch of drunk 20-somethings taking over a subway train, swinging around on the poles, belting out showtunes. (Sean 1, you missed your calling as a pole-dancer) It was the single most carefree expression of public, unabashed joy I’ve ever participated in. And I’ve done some joyous shit in public, folks (Rocky Horror Picture Show? Anyone?) Perfect conclusion to the evening.
Our hotel room troupe is growing… Now we’re up to me, Erin, Whitney, Sal, and Jenn. We have some CRAZY outlandish conversations… I can’t remember the details, but I think there was something about Anne Frank and oral sex, and Whitney being an “international world fucker” with her many boyfriends from around the globe. Point is, it’s the middle of the night, we’re all laying around in piles on beds and the floor (we found pillows this time!) and having the time of our lives, despite the fact that each person didn’t know most of the rest of the gang 36 hours before.
THIS is why I love New York City, and the amazing group of friends I’ve made over the years in Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina, and New York (not to mention the FL folks that’ve moved off to Chicago, San Francisco, etc since then).
And while I’m being sentimental, here’s a lil’ shout-out… This conversation actually happened the weekend BEFORE, at Thijson’s/Christina’s mom’s wedding… Towards the end of the evening, Thijs txts me asking if I’m bored or something like that… I write back that I’m there with some of my best friends on the PLANET, so where else would I rather be? He replies “NYC”, of course… So I txt back something along the lines of “NYC is awesome, but it’s still just a place… it’s the people you’re with that make it memorable.” His reply?
“Hallmark called. They want their soul back.”