Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A Picture Really Is Worth A Thousand Words (Depending on How Long This Post Is)

(Photo by Carrie)

My friends Mick and Gretchen (not to be confused with her twin, Evil G), invited me to meet them in New York City last Saturday to hang out with them. I didn't question why, but Mick told me before I jumped on the train, that the purpose of the get-together was a birthday party for an old friend of his. For a moment, my usual pangs of feeling uncomfortable in an unknown crowd (known as "shyness") made me consider bailing, but I ultimately went with a "why not" approach.

What a night.

I enjoy gathering at a local watering hole, but normally within an hour or two, I'm done. I can't hear anyone speak, I'm bored, etc. This place (The Long Room, on 44th St.) had none of those trappings. OK, I'll grant you that it's not the kind of place where the bartender does many buy backs, but the guy was funny (had a good Irish brogue), the decor was classy, and the beer list was plentiful. In other words, it's typical New York (midtown Manhattan).  Plus the atmosphere was such that you could hear yourself think. All in all, the place is a winner - and a short walk to Grand Central Terminal (perfect for us hayseeds from the sticks).

When I jumped on my train in Southeast (the former "Brewster North"), it was 65 degrees. I opted for short-sleeves, jeans, and sneakers (not my usual look but hey, gotta work with what's available). Stepping into the NYC air from Grand Central felt like stepping into another world - low 50's. Suddenly I was sorry I didn't bring a jacket.

I got there before Mick and Gretchen, and made the mistake of strolling to Times Square. Wow - what a cattle farm that is. I quickly spun around and returned to the pub, and we walked in. Mick's friends joined us a bit later. At first I felt like the proverbial outsider but soon found this group to be fun, funny, and engaging. It would make the night a total success to stay in touch with some of these people - that's how likable they seem.

Mick's friend, the guest of honor, was extremely happy to see Mick and Gretchen, and smiled sweetly when introduced to the stranger from the north. There was no phoniness in her greeting, which made me feel welcomed. She also got to plant a kiss on the bartender's lips - at his request, of course. Ah, the silliness of such an evening. That would bring me to the picture above.

I don't mind getting my picture taken. Sometimes I like the way I look, and sometimes not so much. This picture had all of the usual trappings. Carrie, the clear organizer of the party, hit a local dollar store to buy a tiara for the guest of honor, and "party princess" hats for the other women. When Carrie took hers off, I snagged it (always looking for a laugh, I guess). Carrie couldn't resist taking a picture of me, and I happily obliged with a face worthy of such a moment.

It's called not taking myself too seriously.

What I initially thought was a night that would have me home by 11 or so found me getting invited to continue the pub crawl (which I had to decline due to Metro North's schedule) and curling up in my bed at three in the morning. Of course, money - indeed the root of truly all evil - dictated that, and even if I did carry on, I wouldn't be doing much more. Just too expensive.

So I opted for a black and white cookie at Grand Central, and headed for home.

Life really isn't too bad these days (and I don't mean to imply that it ever is). Sure, I'm kind of finding myself, and we all know I take some steps forward, and some backwards. But I like how things are going. No doubt if someone is interested in money, then they would be better off running away from me, especially right now. Yet I'm not such a bad catch, I suppose.

I often talk about survivors, and how I admire them. I found myself thinking of the following quote, from The Shawshank Redemption. Spoken by Morgan Freeman's character Red, it strikes me as a metaphor for someone who has gone through a lot but has made it out alive (forgive the NSFW language):
Andy Dufresne - who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.
I think that just about says it all.

(I didn't quite get to a thousand words. Oh well.)

No comments: