10-10-11 – Another melancholic Monday. I have just returned from another trip to NYC which was made all the more memorable because I took in a Saturday night performance of Billy Elliot at the Imperial Theatre in Broadway. The weather, as you all remember, was peculairly cooperative this October weekend with temperatures rising to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This made strolling the avenues of Manhattan very pleasant but for the ocean of humanity at every corner and its youthfulness screaming in my ears cacophonously with the usual hormone-filled moral vacuity. I walked for miles after being set adrift by my Brooklyn-born colleague, James Proscia, who came to NYC with me to attend some ill-conceived grammar school reunion in Brooklyn. But, I was at liberty- free of Proscia’s curious blend of scientific rationalism-cum-Borneo-wildman-crypto-paranoid phreneticisms . It was my intent from the beginning to attend Billy Elliot. I went to the box office at 4:00 p.m. and was told that the worst seats (the ones I wanted) were sold out and that I would have to settle for the more expensive loge-section accomodations for $81.00. I reluctantly accepted. I then had to find something to do while waiting for the 7:30 p.m. show. My dipsomania in full check, I began to walk toward the MOMA at Central Park to revisit some of the exhibits I had seen that same morning.
As part of the picaresque style I learned from Bret Harte, I am going to describe the “lodgings” to which Proscia subjected me during the trip. You see, I insisted that we leave on Thursday, at 7:00 p.m. in order to exploit the night; its tranquility and absence of traffic. Whilst, Proscia disagreed at first, he eventually was cajoled into thinking along my lines. We left from my home about 45 minutes past seven due to my companion’s Italianesque view of space and time and enjoyed a predictably uneventful 6 hours of driving.
But, what I did not know was that Proscia existed in a veritable kaleidoscope of phobias – a miasma of complexes all waiting to spill out like trapped brackish water lapping at the floodgates of my patient and sensitive being. I was regaled with frantic questions such as: “Can you see that truck?”, “The left lane is closing”, and the ad-nauseam-repeated “must you drive so close to him?” After hours of pitiless abuse, I recommended, (and he accepted), a sojourn at an acceptable inn along the way in rural Pennsylvania. With a full one-half gallon of Sobieski Polish Vodka in my luggage, I didn’t think it was such a bad idea. We stopped around 12:30 a.m.
The motel was acceptable. The room had only one bed and I agreed to sleep on the floor because it was good for my back. Luckily, there was also a flea-bitten sofa which I decided was better for my back. I wanted to pour a nightcap but needed some ice. I walked down the very long corridor to a room which had that typical utilitarian look and found an ice machine. After learning how to operate it and filling my plastic ice bucket, I reeled back at the sight of a giant white animal slithering across the top of the machine! I did not expect either a white rat or cat to be at liberty in the motel on the third floor. I collected myself, brain awash in visions from horror movies I’ve seen for most of my life, and hastened back to my room. Proscia was on his cellphone decrying something or another in his grating, nasal Brooklynesque accent. I, poured my drink, and called the front desk. A young man from the subcontinent responded and I told him what happened at the ice machine of the third floor. I’m going to call him “Kumar” because all my Indian friends have that name. Kumar was nonplussed. He stammered, and then suggested, that I try the second floor for ice!. What!? I quickly explained that I already secured the ice and that my call was an alert concerning a potential infestation of vermin in the building. It might be a cat, let loose by one of the many truck drivers staying the night as evidenced by a full armored division of semis in the parking lot OR it might be something much more menacing – more ghoulish. Kumar and I parted company as he ended the call with the following immortal conclusion which he timorously offered: “Well, I don’t know what to do.” Having no experience myself in pest-control or hotel management, I could advance no useful ideas. As a Syrian boy, my only experience was with the Syrian Golden Hamster.
The next day we completed our journey and arrived in New Jersey. Proscia took over the driving duties because, we all knew, he was a native New Yorker and favorite son of that great state. The only issue I had with his provenience was the knuckle-headed selection of a Howard Johnson’s motel in NEWARK, NEW JERSEY for our stay! It was situated alongside a Newark Airport runway with a view of weeds absorbing a cement wall crowned by concertina wire which (I thought) had been stained with blood. From our window, it appeared like a Mayan temple at the moment of discovery, covered in jungle growth, smothered by a thousand years of neglect. It was, the HOWARD JOHNSON’S LIBERTY MOTEL – RENOVATED! It was the place reserved for me by that SON OF BROOKLYN, JAMES J. PROSCIA, A/K/A GIACOMO PROSCIA OF BARESE, RESIDENT HIRSUTE NUMBSKULL OF DEARBORN AND CANTON, LORD OF ALL HE SEES.
To be continued in my next post. I have to go for lunch. I feel like eating at Michigan’s best restaurant – OLD COUNTRY BUFFET. See you in a bit.