My first conversation during my vacation in New York City was an internal monologue at LaGuardia initiated by the signs posted by the baggage area and exit doors. The first sign said, “Warning! Do not get in unmarked cars. Transportation provided by licensed New York City Taxis is strongly recommended.”
A few minutes later I dodged a second sign. The wheel of my rolling suitcase nearly toppled the third sign which ended with “Do not accept rides from strangers.” (They forgot “or candy.”)
The officials responsible for this sign campaign think we forgot the Stranger Danger lessons drummed into our heads since we were two. We're aware of the dangers in New York City before we step off the plane. We get Law and Order SVU in the Ozarks, although some of the hill folk prefer Breaking Bad because it's educational.
I pointed out the inhospitable signs to RJ and my sister-in-law as we joined the herd moving to the New York City Cab kiosk. I watched the concierge wave off the dangerous black cars and load tourist after tourist into the safe yellow cabs. The people responsible for the signs were dumber than I thought. Any serious serial killer, rapist or robber would never drive a black car. They’d have a replica of a New York City cab.
I felt sorry for the guys in the black cars. They were trying to make a living too. Did they know tourists thought they were criminals before they exited the airport?
I was determined to engage our first cab driver in conversation. I said, “Hi, how are you?” I thought he replied but it could have been a burp. I met his eyes in the rearview mirror and telegraphed a message—Hey, I’m speaking to you and being polite. Where are your manners serial killer?
I tried to exchange pleasantries with every cab drivers but most remained mute. The last two days of our vacation I changed my game plan. I smiled and asked a question that forced the semi-monks to speak.
“Are you a Yankees fan?” I asked.
“Oh, yes,” said the cab drivers. (You're not allowed to say no if you work with the public in NYC.)
“Of course you are!" I said. “That’s a shame. I hate the Yankees."
The cabbies were lucky we didn't base their tips on word count.
We had fun talking to Fred, our bicycle-pedaling, rickshaw-pulling, tour guide of Central Park. Fred excitedly pointed out locations where famous movies were filmed. “Here’s where Harry kissed Sally. This is where the Carousel scene from Big was shot and the boathouse scene in Home Alone was filmed over there.”
I wasn’t fully engaged in the movie conversation because I was studying the lovely architecture and various types of buildings bordering Central Park. Fred noticed my wandering eye. He switched from movies to homes of the rich and famous. Pointing to the top floor of a building, he said, “That’s Caroline Kennedy’s penthouse…the whole floor and Derek Jeter lives over there in the Trump Tower. He had to have the Donald’s approval first.”
I said wow and Fred almost thought I was sincere. He asked why I was interested in the multiple million dollar apartments and penthouses around the park.
“I love the TV show Selling New York,” I said.
“Because you dream to live here one day?” Fred asked.
“No, because I like to make fun of the buyers, especially women with mutant dogs stuffed in their gigantic purses and designers clinging to their arms who are anxiusly waiting to jump into their purses with the dogs."
I changed my voice to a singsong soprano and said, “With my budget of 23 million this kitchen simply will…not…do. Granite and stainless steel appliances are completely unacceptable! I must have marble countertops and platinum appliances.”
Fred rubbed his temple and turned to RJ. “Which side of the park would you like to live on? The east side is for old money and the west side is for new money.”
RJ said, “Where’s the no money side?”
We had dinner with our wonderful friend Steve and Francois Gerard, Director of The Red Violin and Silk. We watched Silk the day before our dinner. The boys discussed music—name the song currently playing in the restaurant and have a friendly argument about the tempo.
I had a question for Francois but was a little leery about asking it because Steve introduced me as a writer and gardener. (Bless you Steve.) Francois was probably expecting me to pull a screenplay out of my purse and say, “Would you please take a look at my screenplay about dirty dancers and flying singers in a show in Branson?"
I waited for a pause in the conversation (they were chewing) and made eye contact with Francois. I said, “In the last scene of Silk, the park scene, is the park design a nod to Versailles?”
Francois scrunched his forehead and replied, “Its CGI.”
I sighed. “I know it’s CGI (I didn't know it was CGI) but was it purposely made to look like Versailles?”
“Well,” Francois said. "It’s supposed to be a French park. The movie ends in France.”
“Of course it does!" I said enthusiastically. Thank you.”
Idiot, I told myself. He doesn’t deal with CGI. I debated asking Francois if he knew who created the computer generated images on Silk. (The cinematography was stunning.) Maybe they could answer my garden question. I chose to squelch my curiosity. I didn’t want to embarrass Steve or RJ.
We had an awesome vacation and much needed break from reality. I had no complaints when I left New York but I had a suggestion. They need to add “don’t bother the locals” to the signs in LaGuardia Airport.
Causes Jules Jacob Supports
CASA of Southwest Missouri, Master Gardeners of the Ozarks, University of Missouri Master Gardeners, Missouri Court Appointed Special Advocates Association...