saint-louise's Diaryland Diary

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Lesson Two: Sooner or later, however, things can only get better.

Before I get back into my New York misadventures, I’d like to say a fond farewell to Waving Guy, an elderly man who used to stand out on the sidewalk by a road in my neighborhood for hours at a time, smoking cigarettes and waving happily at all of the cars that drove past. He had apparently become familiar to many, many people over the years, and I heard on the radio that he had recently passed away.

Bye, Waving Guy.

Now, let’s see. Where were we…?

7:30 am. Monday. New York, in my hotel room:
I am soothing my fragile emotional state with a ridiculously expensive breakfast from room service. I have already called the lost luggage hotline number. Three times. The recorded message tells me (three times) that they have located my bag, they will deliver it, and if I do not have it in my possession within five hours, to call back.

Right.

I take stock of my situation: No clean clothes. No toiletries, not even a comb. The hotel doesn’t have a shop on site in which I can purchase these items. I had to put my contact lenses in two drinking glasses filled with tap water for the night, and they have since turned a pleasant shade of yellow.

I unhinge my jaw and fall face-first on the $30 bagels, croissants and coffee.
Minus 7 points.

9:30 am. Monday. Still waiting…:
Still no sign of the luggage, and some part of me (appendix? pinky toe?) has the nerve to feel surprised at this. I swear that the recorded luggage hotline voice has taken on a mocking tone. I’ve pushed every button on the phone to try to get a living person to speak to me. For all I know, the recorded message is a living person, getting their jollies off of my pain. Another part of me (probably the spleen) realizes that I can’t entirely blame them.
Minus 5 points.

12:00 pm. Monday. Yet again, please:
John calls to see how things are going.

“The airline lost my luggage,” I say, calmly.

“What?!”

“Yeah. They said they left it in Cincinnati, but it should be delivered today.”

“Wow. Did anyone else traveling with you to the New York office lose their luggage, too?”

“No,” I say. “They didn’t check any of their bags.”

Without missing a beat – no, not even to conduct impact analysis – John speaks in a voice dripping with incredulity, “Jesus! You checked your bag? Why the hell did you do that?”

“Well,” I say, still calmly. “Off the top of my head? Perhaps because checking my bag isn’t really like walking up to a person who is breaking into a house in the middle of the night and saying to him, ‘Hey, could you watch my bag for a few hours? Thanks.’” You know, when I check my bag I’m thinking it might actually end up where I end up, right? I know it’s a gamble, but I’m just such a wacky, go-with-my-gut kind of gal!”
Minus 5 points.

12:15 pm. Monday. Yawn.
Still no bag.

The hotline number doesn’t even pick up when I call now. The love is gone.

John calls back to be contrite for a few minutes.
Minus 2 points.

1:30 pm. Monday. New York, Time Square:
Dreadful daytime television programming drives me screaming out of my room and into the street. Well, that and I am desperate to take a shower. After I have located a drug store for my toiletry needs, I go into the nearest clothing shop I find (one that doesn’t specialize in liquid latex and velvet bustiers, as much as I know how much of a hit that would be in the office).

I find that I am being avoided and sometimes looked at suspiciously by most of the shop workers, and I begin to wonder if it’s because of my unkempt, bordering-on-psychopathic-homeless-person appearance. When all hope seems lost, suddenly a clerk named Jose appears next to me and informs me that he has a 98.9 percent success rate in fitting jeans for customers, because: “I ask the right questions about your body type, and I’m telling you that I will make you look fantastic.” He says this to me without once glancing at my Don King hair or the traces of my second-day makeup.

We have a winner, folks! I buy an obscene amount of merchandise from him, and increase his jeans-fitting success rate.
Plus 10 points.

6:35 pm. Monday. Back at the hotel:
I have showered, and I’m wearing fresh clothing. Already giddy with this success (I’m a big girl!), I have dinner in the hotel restaurant with my two co-workers, where I gulp down two martinis. Because I think I deserve it. Because I’d like to erase some of the trauma from the daytime television programming. And, well…because I can.

My boss tells me that I should consider today a comp day. I drink to that. Thirty minutes and one more martini later, I ask if tomorrow can be a comp day, too.
Plus 10 points.

8:15 pm. Monday. In the hotel, on my way back up to my room:
I stop at the concierge desk to inquire about my luggage. When I tell the concierge that my luggage was lost last night, and the airline said it would be here today, he looks at me in pity for my mental shortcomings. At this, my appendix and/or pinky toe finally gives in to what the rest of me knew all along. About the bag, Louise? Yeah, um…don’t hold your breath.

I continue to my room, where I finish a paper for my literature class. It’s amazing what vodka does for your creative juices. I hope my professor can see the intellectual beauty of vague literary references and thoughts that are almost completed before the author falls unconscious.
Minus 1 point (they were really, really good martinis).

8:00 am. Tuesday. In the New York office:
I am overcome with excitement because of the daily, eight hour meetings that I get to indulge in through Thursday. I deem myself the luckiest girl alive, and settle in to count how many people doze off throughout each day.

At lunch break, I call my hotel voicemail. The concierge desk has left a message to say that my luggage has been delivered to the hotel. I call the lost luggage hotline and yell obscenities at the disdainful recorded voice, as a fond farewell to our passionate, dedicated relationship.
Plus 10 points.

6:05 pm. Wednesday. At my hotel:
I am supposed to meet my co-workers for dinner, but there is no one in the hotel lobby when I come down from my room. I step outside to see if they’re waiting for me out there. Maybe they’re hoping to freeze to death because they might feel a little suicidal after that day’s marathon meetings. But, no. They aren’t there.

When I turn around to go back in, I see John standing in the hotel lobby.
Plus 15 points.

7:00 pm. Wednesday. In “The Pig and Whistle”:
I’m drinking beer and calling my boss and co-worker unpleasant names. Of course, that’s my way of showing appreciation for their part in arranging John’s surprise arrival in New York.

I feel relaxed for the first time since Sunday afternoon. It’s almost like his mere presence relieves pressure from my joints and muscles. He has done this for me. He wanted to see me, and it made him happy to make me happy. This kind of thoughtfulness is something that I have never experienced before – as sad as that sounds – never once in my fifteen years of dating. It makes the lost-and-found luggage, the dreadfully long meetings, the cranky streets of New York, and the crowded, chilly pub smooth out like worry lines when the cause of anxiety finally dissipates.

Or maybe that’s just the beer.

It doesn’t matter, though, I suppose. So I tuck my head under his chin and decide to just enjoy it.
Plus 10 points.

9:23 pm. Thursday. On Broooooadwaaaay:
John and I have just finished watching “La Cage Aux Folles.” As we get up to leave the theater, he catches sight of a person he used to work with who was “one of the worst human beings he’d ever known.”

“Quick! We have to get out of here before he sees me!” John hisses, scrunching his head down into his coat, turtlelike, and looking around wildly for an exit, which is the most inconspicuous thing to do aside from pulling a fire alarm, ripping a chair out of the floor, and screaming like a banshee in labor.

“Why?” I hiss back, caught up in the Mission Impossible moment. “Will he kick you if he sees you?”

John shoves me toward a nearby exit, past a woman on crutches, knocking her into an elderly man and a small, orphaned matchgirl. “No, but he’ll want to talk. And then I’ll have to pretend to be civil!

I start to ask why this is a requirement, and for whom, but we’ve burst out on the street by then and now we’re running for our very lives. Or for our lack of feigned civility.
Plus 5 points.

2:00 pm. Friday. American Museum of Natural History:
I force John to listen to me gab excitedly about a development of oral and written languages display in one of the Ancient Americas rooms. He politely pretends to be interested. Then he valiantly attempts to stay awake. Then he cleverly throws his keys off to one side to distract me, and nimbly runs and hides.

Every once in a while, classes of elementary school students go streaming by, one child at a time, holding each others’ hands. I am charmed by this, especially in the Pacific Islands rooms, when an entire class of 2nd graders walks past a display of primitive humans in various forms of nudity and choruses, “EWWWWWW!”

Yeah. Naked=gross! Math tests=bad! Recess=good! Hot dog day in the cafeteria=great! Ah, childhood…
Plus 8 points.

6:15 pm. Friday. The Empire State Building:
As we’re waiting to get on an elevator to the top of the Empire State Building, we overhear a passenger asking one of the ESB employees how many people they typically fit into each elevator per trip. The woman replied, “OH, ABOUT 15. UNLESS THERE ARE, YOU KNOW, ASIANS IN THE GROUP. THEN WE’LL PUT IN 17 OR 18. BECAUSE THEY’RE SLENDER, YOU KNOW. ASIANS. BECAUSE OF THEIR DIET.”

Good to hear. And I would have. Heard it. Thirteen blocks away. Wearing ear plugs. Under water.

In a few minutes, I am chock full of touristy goodness. John and I watch the sun set from the observation deck. We rent one of the audio tour headsets and stand with our ears pressed together so we can both listen. The 59th Street Bridge. The Chrysler Building. Central Park. The Hudson. Queens. The Brooklyn Bridge. It’s like standing in a talking photograph of New York. Only in a photograph, you don’t have to go inside every ten minutes to thaw out when you start to lose feeling in your extremities.
Plus 5 points.

1:00 am. Saturday. In our hotel room:
John and I fall asleep together. I am warm and content, even though I know we have a long flight to endure tomorrow. My mental exhaustion is long gone. The weather has gotten somewhat warmer. I got to eat Indian food earlier that evening, and I only spilled one glass of wine the entire trip. New Louise record!

I try to curl up next to John, but it’s a king sized bed, and he’s in another zip code. I call him to say “good night.”
Plus 5 points.

Total score for my trip to New York - January, 2005: 51/100. It may look low, but that’s pretty good compared to where I started. And for someone who is as determined to be irrationally cross a good portion of the time.

Now if only my company would send me on a trip to Cabo San Lucas…

5:10 p.m. - 2005-03-17

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