We will rise soon and go eat tapas around 9:30 pm, enjoying sitting outside under a heater, listening to our fellow diners chatting in French on one side and Korean on the other. We will enjoy the communal aspect of the Euro-zone, where our waiter will bestow the most marginal service imaginable, and expects no tip, and we will bask and eat in a plume of second-hand cigarette smoke. There will be fried white anchovies and a decent glass of red wine even though I will ask for white, and it will be a privilege.
Today was Friday. A maintenance team of fellows speaking all manner of languages (save English) was expected at one to take another crack at the stopped toilet. The dogs needed to be out of the way. We needed to be out of the way.
We walked down to West 25th to drop the dogs at doggy day care, and stopped nearby at a forgettable corner “coffee” shop for a late breakfast. It was not Starbucks, which is only for true, on-the-road emergencies. I was served a delicious bagel and cream cheese and fresh squeezed juice, which was nearly ruined by the presence of dreadful see-through tan beverage known in this city as “coffee.” The “coffee” in New York is so consistently bad I have nearly given up the stuff, having gone now from a connoisseur to a sad, furtive junkie.
After a hurried meal where I growled unnecessarily at my companion, I let him choose the destination: a museum from the list of larger museums we had not visited yet. I am not a fan of the biggest museums, finding their bigness too big to take in, and their sprawling labyrinth floor plans unnavigable. No museum can display everything related to a subject, yet the larger and more grandiose the institution, the greater pretensions of completeness. I might find the gray squirrels entombed in their taxidermed glory, lifeless, dusty but where are the red or the black? The sugar gliders? Chipmunks? Maybe they are there, too. Maybe we just missed them. A frantic search ensues. But the Italian tourists are taking photos of themselves posing in front of the jaguars, and we are in their way. We always move along.
My son picked the American Museum of Natural History, in theory a nice change from the art and antiquities we have already seen at the Morgan, the Guggenheim, the Whitney and the Frick. I knew we could take the subway there: the B (or was it the D?).
We got on the subway at 23rd and 6th, headed uptown. This was a Bronx-bound train, the M, so we would have to change to the B (or was it the D?) in a couple of stops. We hopped off, and on again, making the switch to the D without missing a beat. Just as the doors were closing a young guy with chin-length black wavy hair and a black guitar got on our car and began to sing and play.
He started with the Flaming Lips “Do You Realize?” which he played serviceably despite his insertion of his own harmonica bridge, and moved into “Rocky Raccoon” for which he got a dollar from us and one from another rider. Then he moved down the car with “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right.” It was at this point that we realized the train had gone express, and we were roaring through subway stops without doing the thing that trains are supposed to do at subway stops: stopping. 72nd, 81st, 86th, 96th, and 100th had already flown by. Before it was over, we would be at 145th, where we would go up and down another flight of stairs to the downtown B and travel another five stops to 81st as intended.
Our favorite thing at the museum was the skeletons. My son complained that the place smelled of babies. We left after not that long, and by the time we were three blocks from home, I felt the unmistakeable feeling that I was coming down with the strong and sudden virus that knocked my husband out last night in the middle of dinner. Today’s lesson: it should have been the B.