Friday, February 15, 2013

Dogs (But No Dogs) & Cats (But No Katz)

When a fellow is as unemployed as I currently am, he doesn't take a vacation per se, but if HIS WIFE takes one, he happily accompanies her. And that's what I was doing during The Snowpocalypse that hit New England. I was slightly south of here, in the less-ravaged wilds of New York City. While Boston and environs received some 25 inches of snowy hell, MY WIFE and I were, for the most part, in various sections of Brooklyn thoroughly enjoying not having to shovel the 8 inches or so that fell there.

I feel it should be known that we were not slacking just for the sake of slacking. We didn't hear the forecast and then say, "Damn! Let's get out of here and leave everything for our neighbors to clean up, and then we'll come home when the sidewalks and driveways are clear!" We had decided to abandon our digs in Watertown at a much earlier time. My brother-in-law had planned a trip to Brazil. Since his apartment would be empty, we asked him if we might use it as our no-cost hotel for a five-night sojourn. Being a very nice man, he agreed to give us run of the place. Our leaving town, at the very moment when the biggest blizzard in thirty-five years was arriving, was strictly a stroke of fantastic luck.

Friday, February 8th

At 10am, we caught a bus from Alewife Station headed for New York. We pretty much drove through the storm that was headed to Boston in an opposite direction, seeing particularly strong precipitation during some stretches of travel through Connecticut. As we found out while watching the news, most of Connecticut was shut down by Friday evening. All manner of conveyance were stuck on the freeways. Had we chosen an afternoon departure, we might not have made it to NYC at all.

God bless our drivers, of which we had two. Our driver from Boston switched places in (as I recall) Hartford, taking over a bus from New York traveling to Boston, while our relief man came on and drove us back to his original starting point of New York. We assumed the switch was made because both men were from the cities they would end in, and maybe the company had knowledge that they would not make it home had they tried a full round trip.

We arrived safely in midtown at approximately 3pm. After gaining our bearings in the storm, we caught the subway to Brooklyn.

[Map courtesy of MTA, the amazingly well-run New York transit system.]

I won't tell you exactly where in Brooklyn we went. I have no desire to compromise any information concerning a man kind enough to loan us use of his home for almost a week. I'll say it's somewhere along one of the orange-colored lines in the map above. If you must know exactly where we stayed, write to me. I still won't tell you the truth, but I'll probably make up an interesting enough lie to make it worth your while.

The apartment was a relatively short walk from the subway; about four blocks, which is to say maybe a quarter-mile at most. Traversing that distance in a raging snow and sleet, however, with twenty-five mile per hour wind gusts, and carrying a couple of pieces of luggage each, made it seem a much longer journey. We were extremely glad to get inside and enjoy the copious heat provided by the landlord of the building.

(Seriously, my brother-in-law seems to have a very decent landlord. I've known building owners who scrimp on the heat as much as possible, making it a downright necessity to wear full clothing, including sweaters and long johns, indoors during winter. This place was warm as toast. I had gained permission to smoke in one of the rooms, so long as the window was open and I sat next to it blowing the smoke out, and it was an entirely pleasant experience. The cold air from the window, mixed with the extremely strong heat from the radiator positioned directly beneath said window, made for a perfect atmosphere in which to continue my concerted effort at killing myself. I puffed contentedly while viewing the back of an apartment building a block away, wherein I imagined Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton plotting a way to go to The Racoons convention sans Alice and Trixie.)

After getting very comfortable, we discovered we were hungry. Our only sustenance during the day had come from McDonalds, during the brief layover in Hartford, so I decided to go back out into the storm in search of food. On our trudge from the subway to the apartment, we had passed an open Thai restaurant. We both like Thai food, so I threw on four or five layers of stuff, pushed my feet back into my boots, and...

You know how some people tell stories about going to school when they were kids, and they swear they walked uphill both ways? Well, Brooklyn doesn't have a lot of hills, but I swear the wind was shoving wet snow, hail, sleet, and an occasional waterlogged squirrel, into my mug in both directions. Did that stop me from lighting up a cigarette and adding to the general visibility problems on the street? No. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor dark of night, will stay a true addict from his addiction, at least until he realizes that he's sucking in more melted snow than smoke, at which point even he will see how idiotic he must look. Anyway, I made it home with the food and we enjoyed it. Then we went to sleep, which ends day one and fairly much describes day two, also, as you'll see.

Saturday, February 9th

We awoke to find the streets being plowed, plowed again, plowed one more time, then scraped over and over and over by fleets of snow jockeys divesting the public works overtime budget of all signs of life. I only had a view of one small patch of street, so maybe these guys were contending with huge mountains of snow elsewhere on their journeys, but I swear by the third pass-through they were scraping up more asphalt than they were snow. I do commend New York City on the thorough job they did of making every street passable - really, I do - but I have a feeling they could have hired folks at an hourly wage to walk along melting the snow with handheld blowtorches and saved money on our street.

Such fiscally conservative grousing aside, we enjoyed the day by remaining indoors for 23 out of the 24 hours. Our joy was especially heartfelt as we watched The Weather Channel and saw that we were not home to deal with drifts reaching mid-chest. On the one trip we made outside, we took a walk around the block. I bought two pastrami sandwiches at a deli, while MY WIFE bought a bottle of wine. I can't remember the real brand name of what she bought, but it was something like Yes, This Is Actually Wine, Not Disinfectant. It didn't come in a carton, but it did come with a screwcap. I was wolfing down pastrami and smoking Pall Malls, however, so who was I to make fun of her choice of beverage?

Sunday, February 10th

And then we met Daryl and Ray.

That's them, above, except in the opposite order. And, if you don't know them already, you'll get to meet them in the next installment. They were altogether way-too-delightful to tack onto the end of this.

Soon, with more better stuff (in other words, part two, where maybe you'll find out just what in hell the title to this means.)


joeh said...

In all of NYC, the wind ALWAYS blows into the direction you are walking. It defies scientific explianation, but it is a fact!

Daryl said...

almost all of Brooklyn is a mystery to me ... except the area around Brooklyn Bridge Park ... having walked across the BB and into BB Park i can pretend a sort of knowledge of it ... i do think your BIL's apartment has to be in a wonderful part of Brooklyn since its located near a deli and a thai restaurant and somewhere that sells wine .. just sayin ...cant wait to read more of your adventures ...

Jeni said...

Whether the NYC trip was planned deliberately or not to escape the big storm, I'm really glad that you and your wife were able to get out of town and have a nice mini-vacation, all warm and toasty in Brooklyn! Very, very good timing! We lucked out here and only got a couple of inches of the white stuff dumped on us and by Monday-Tuesday, almost all the snow from both the latest storm along with the leftover stuff still on the ground had disappeared! I like that aspect the best when it comes to snow -watching it melt away!

OldAFSarge said...

Arghhh, a cliffhanger! I like them but hate them at the same time. I want it all and I want it now, but the delicious anticipation of what is to come is a kind of sweet agony. So don't wait too long.

Daryl and Ray look like the type of people you meet on vacation and wind up wishing they lived nearby.

Excellent tale as always my brother! Particularly loved the nod to Ralph and Ed. One of my absolute favorite shows of all times. It's timeless really, when we were stationed in Mississippi my kids would watch it (on TBS I think). Just the mention of the show would send them into hysterics. It's that good.

I've done the head first into gale force winds with driven sleet while smoking a cigarette, and wondered why.

Great post!

The Broad said...

You've discovered the only sensible way to deal with a gargantuan blizzard! Sounds like you had a perfect time as well as timing! Looking forward to hearing the rest!

Kerry said...

A lot of wine makers use screw tops now; supposedly it keeps the wine better, so your wife may have been perfectly correct to pick out what she did:) The days of Annie Green Springs have changed!

You met Daryl! If I ever get to NYC I'll look her up too. And should you make it to Corvallis Oregon, we'll give you a tour here.

lime said...

how fortuitous that your free accommodations coincided with the blizzard. how great that you got to meet daryl and ray. really...if you do it again, make it just a little bit to the west so mr.lime and i can show you a bit of hospitality as well :) can't wait to read your take on the visit!

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip said...

Cities and wind don't mix well.
The wind is like a tourist without an itinerary, with has no idea in which direction to head.

Glad you weren't too inconvenienced by the "Great Snowpocalypse."

Karen said...

Glad you got out of Boston during the storm. A trip to NY sounds like a nice getaway.

Unknown said...

Interestingly, one of my first thoughts upon hearing of the impending storm was—and I swear I actually considered this—How far would we have to drive in order to escape?

In the end, however, I decided that it would be too far of a trip, so we bundled in for the weekend instead.


The Geezers said...

Interesting adventure. I've been in NYC during major weather, and I found it quite entertaining and even exciting. The city has a way of maintaining in the face of anything that is very admirable.

Buck said...

I'm glad ya got away, doubly glad you're posting again. People were starting to talk...

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

What people?
Or is that which people?

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Some of us are certainly happy to see you have come through unfazed

One of us, at least, is a little perturbed it took so long to find out

Just remember, Karma is a bitch

I know because she lived next door when I was a kid

Chris said...

I'm gonna guess the title explanation right now. Coney Island and Katz's Deli. I hope you had the pastrami sandwich.

Man, that makes me REALLY miss New York.

stephen Hayes said...

I thought I spotted you posing in a picture on Daryl's blog and when I read the post---yep, that was you. You get around. When will you be in Oregon?

messymimi said...

Ah, the joys of vacation. It's always nicer to enjoy someone else's heat.

Sueann said...

Ahhh the joys of living in the northeast...especially this year! And you chose to go there! Ha! I will stay in the west..thank you very much. I used to live near Lake Ohio...snow??? Understatement!!
Looking forward to part two

Michelle H. said...

Sounds like the beginnings of a great trip. Missing the snow storm (and the shoveling) has to be a plus side. We only got clipped with rain, but we are getting plenty of snow today. Onward to part II as I play catch-up.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering when you'd get around to blogging about meeting up with Daryl! I'm glad you were able to get out of that big storm into a milder one, whether you planned it that way or not!

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Out here in sunny Phoenix (for the first time ever in my life to MISS the enormous snow storm hooray!) we watched TWC all day Saturday with some kind of morbid fascination. Every time we went out to our patio for a smoke it almost seemed surreal that we weren't bundling up in multiple layers and pulling out a shovel to clear enough snow just to have a place to stand and freeze. Happy to hear you were out of town enjoying NY pastrami (mmm) instead!