Friday, October 20, 2006

Notes From NYC ...

This trip is a year overdue.

I was supposed to come to New York last year - I come to New York every year - to see my friend John. We met on the phone when I interviewed him for a story for the Tribune, and we've been friends ever since. Is this the year he turned 80? I can't remember. Perhaps he's 81. But when it comes to John, age is irrelevant. He is the most fascinating, charming man - ageless.

Yesterday was my first flight in the post-London, no-liquids-well-OK-some-liquids world, and while I don't normally like to check my luggage, especially when I have just one small piece, not all of my liquids met the TSA's requirements, so I resigned myself to checking my bag, hoping that it would meet me in New York.

O'Hare now has a nifty service for people parking in Lot E: You can check your bag there, before you get on the tram to the terminals. It costs $5 per bag, but I thought I'd give it a whirl. I must say, it was nice to dump it off early and have only my purse to tote.

With my boarding pass in hand (I had checked in online the day before, and the luggage lady gave me one, as well), I went right to security. One of the security folks suggested I go to the other security area, where there was no line. You betcha! Having packed my few purse liquids in a quart-size Ziploc bag, I zipped right through security with no issues.

At the gate, I asked the agent if I could switch my seat to an exit row. "There's a $34 fee," she said. Oh, for the love of God. Most gate agents take one look at me - one look up at me, as I'm always taller than them - and give me one, or put me on a list, but every once in a while, the agent gets all official and wants me to pay for it, because it's an Economy Plus seat.

I had heard her tell the person before me that the flight checked in full, anyway, so I told her I'd just keep my seat. Once I was on the plane and the door was closed and we pushed back, I looked up and noticed that of the 12 exit-row seats, 6 were occupied. Grr. What would it have mattered, if she gave me one of those seats? They were available. I've been a United customer my entire life. I've literally flown on other airlines on fewer than 10 flights. I flew the Friendly Skies while it navigated bankruptcy. I'm loyal. Not that she knows that, but really, $34? Does the airline need the money that bad?

Ah well. We landed early, and my luggage and I were happily reunited. I made my way to Grand Central and then walked to my cousin's office. We made our way to her fab new pad in Brooklyn (she has a new apartment, built on the top of a building, and a deck, from which can see the Statue of Liberty; she looks small, from this distance, but there she is; we can also see parts of Manhattan's skyline; it's fab; we sat outside last night and had wine and chatted before heading out for dinner) and then headed back down her four flights of stairs (yup, it's a 5th-floor walk-up!) to poke around the 'hood (Park Slope) and check out menus in windows.

We ended up at Cafe Moutarde, the most charming French bistro, for a lovely meal, clearly an excellent choice. I had a glass of Champagne with dinner, and why not? As Patty pointed out, I'm on a mini-holiday.

At home, later, we watched "Grey's Anatomy" (a must-see) and flipped back and forth between "Six Degrees" and "ER." John Stamos is playing doctor on TV these days, the latest attempt to put a pretty boy in a white coat to lure the ladies? I guess so.

This morning, I'm puttering around. Patty's off to work. I'll get ready and meet John at the oh-so-hip Maritime Hotel, where his daughter is a manager at Matsuri, which, John tells me, has fanstastic sushi. But we're going to Bowery Bar, where his daughter's squeeze is wanting to revamp the menu, and John, who loves it when I write about food, wants me offer input. Sweet.

I love New York for these little jaunts. It's a fabulous city, but I can only manage measured doses. And then I'm happy to return to Chicago, which has everything New York has to offer, just on a more manageable scale.


Anonymous Ellen (one of John's other daughters) said...

He's 81, and better than ever!

10:49 PM  

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