Having survived, barely, my overnight flight, even getting a minimal amount of sleep, I made it into JFK just before dawn broke. After a couple false starts I managed to get myself on the right train, and only overshot my transfer station by two stops, but it was still a good two hours between the time my plane landed and when I finally staggered in the door of my hotel. Which I would shortly have to stagger out again, because hotels very rarely have rooms available for check-in at seven in the morning, but not before the very nice lady at the front desk gave me some toiletry items (toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash and deodorant), directed me to a bathroom where I could try to shape myself into something more resembling a human being and promised to call once a room became available. So I proceeded with my plan (see below), adding a visit to the Empire State Building and a stop by Penn station to buy my train ticket for Friday to the space between breakfast and ticket purchase.
Did you know that there is no line at all to go to the top of the Empire State Building at 8 am on a Wednesday? And there isn’t much of a crowd at the top either; you can linger as long as you like. Those are the good parts. The bad part is that they have taken down what interpretive signs there were, in a clear effort to force as many people as possible to pay for the ludicrously expensive "audio tour". It seems to be working.
The other point at which I deviated from my stated schedule was that I did not proceed directly from the TKTS booth to go shopping on 5th Avenue, I proceeded directly back to my hotel, because I had gotten the call that my room was ready and there was a bed and a shower in my future.
A couple hours later, moderately rested and refreshed, I emerged and made my way back down 42nd Street to Times Square and the theater. The show I had settled on was "The Drowsy Chaperone", which had just opened the last time I was here, and it sounded appealing. And, clearly, I was not the only person who thought so, though I may have been one of the youngest. The scene in the theater was incredible—old ladies as far as the eye can see. (Why do old ladies all have the same hair? Do I have to have that hair when I’m old? I really don’t want that hair.) The two previous plays I had seen in New York being Avenue Q and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, I wasn’t quite aware of the powerful attraction Broadway shows held for the elderly.
I enjoyed the show a lot; a combination of the charmingly frivolous and the sad. The conceit is that we are listening to a record of an old Broadway show from the twenties, with all the standard elements of romance, slapstick and comic misunderstanding. The narrator lives alone in his shabby apartment, divorced, almost certainly closeted with some clear mommy-issues, finding happiness only by putting on his records and locking out reality. Basically, it’s a non-escapist show about the joys of escapism. With some good songs.
After the play I did some shopping (largely window) up Fifth Avenue, eventually getting myself captured by the Yves Saint Laurent makeup lady at Bergdorf Goodman’s and spending way too much money on pretty makeup I didn’t need. And that was the end of my less-than-epic day of shopping in New York.