I love New York. Broadway, beautiful shoes, and a plethora of gourmet stores stocking my favourite edible treasures: high-end chocolate and ingenious dairy-free/vegan foods. Having visited New York three times in the past four years, I decided to dismiss all feelings of tourist obligation this time around. Instead, I planned to spend my two stop-over days in the Big Apple enjoying myself in a laid-back fashion. I would wander around in the warmth, shop, eat (and eat and eat), and revel in feeling the way New York always makes me feel: happy and slightly envious of everyone around me.
With this intention surrounding me like a pale fern-green miasma, I didn’t expect to have much to blog about.
What’s that they say about the best laid plans of mice and men?
The Day Begins
The first half of my day followed my easy-breezy scheme, with some Food Network-watching, some Coffee Frappuccino-drinking (even if it did melt rather quickly in the warmth and honey glow of 5th Avenue on a sunny Spring day, but one can hardly complain about that), and some non-food shopping*. This last was a rather novel experience, as I am usually inordinately bored by any shopping that doesn’t end with me digesting the results.
Then Gets Slightly Less Sedate, But I am Still Emotionally Balanced
Did you know that the subway machines won’t let you buy an $8 pass with $20? You have to buy a $20 pass. And the people in the subway booths give only information, not tickets. No worries, thinks me, I’m young and a cripple fit, what’s another 20 blocks to walk after the 17 I’ve just done, even if I’m now laden with duffel bag, backpack, shopping bags, and handbag?
So I walked to Union Square for my HEAPS BIG UNRESTRAINED CHOCOLATE BUYING, and it was eight parts glorious, two parts sunburn. Not too shabby.
Hello Stranger, Would You Like Two Babies?
First stop at Union Square: The Food Emporium. Chocolates bought: Many. Second stop: Trader Joe’s. Muffins bought: yummy. Long lines to the checkout entered: one.
Here’s where the day got interesting.
In front of me in the line was a woman with a large stroller containing one (1) toddler and one (1) baby. Behind me were a couple (2) in their early 60s. After snaking halfway around the store (it was a long line), the mother before me turned and said “I forgot something. Can you push the stroller forward?” And off she sauntered, leaving me with one (1) duffel bag, one (1) handbag, one (1) backpack, two (2) full shopping baskets, one (1) enormous stroller, and two (2) strange children, all of which I had manoeuvre through and around assorted other shoppers and aisles with my two (2) hands.
I heard an harrumph from behind me, and turned to see the older lady shaking her head. Her husband offered to take the mother’s shopping basket from my care, while the wife told me I was really too kind, and that the mother shouldn’t have wandered off.
I smiled and said I didn’t really mind making sure someone’s children didn’t get stolen (or eaten by a dingo).
At this point, a Trader Joe’s worker approached me and asked what I needed help with. Confused, I soon ascertained that the worker had been told to look after the mother with the two children and the stroller, and so I was being approached as she.
“Oh, no, sorry, no, these aren’t mine, some lady just left me with them,” I babbled.
Harrumph, from behind.
The worker fervently agreed with such harrumphing, thanking me profusely for my generosity in spontaneous-child-rearing while stating that the woman ought not to have bequeathed her children to me.
Eventually the mother returned, at which point the worker semi-politely chided her and left. The mother promptly dropped her carton of eggs on the floor, peeked inside, muttered “of course”, and placed the carton on a nearby shelf of chocolate-covered edamame.
Having relinquished my pseudo-children, I watched as the mother started sharing a pear with her toddler. I’m sure this was a lovely bonding moment and all, but the line had moved forward to the extent that, metres and metres away, she was now technically next in line, and the rest of us were stuck behind her.
The woman behind me leaned forward and whispered “I’ve never hated someone in line before”. I simply smiled and joked “You sure do things differently in America”, not wanting to get caught in a cross-generational-grocery-store showdown.
As I watched my children being rolled away, I shed a tear for all the birthday parties and tantrums and first-days-at-school I’d never get to see… and then I looked down at my carton of chocolate-covered sunflower seeds and decided I’d got the better deal.
Spawn-less, the Day Shifts from Hilarity to…
Well, you’ll just have to wait and see. Because this chickadee needs her dinner, and suspense is good for the soul.
*A skirt that makes me feel like Little Ragged Blossom, two jackets, a duffel bag for the planned chocolate splurge, and a pair of heels. This last was an accident, as I was honestly just going to try one shoe on my right non-bandaged foot then leave the store. Except what’s a girl to do when a stylish New York lady interrupts her own shopping to say that the shoes look amazing and must be bought? The girl has to buy them, obviously, even if she couldn’t try on the left shoe to make sure it fit, and so it subsequently may not. But shhhh.