Wendy and Nils

New York - The Top

     Mandatory vacations are a standard of American culture.  In our youth, we are forced to follow the direction of our families until we are old enough to move away from our homes. Post high school activities are often dictated by a select group of friends.  In a few rare cases, we are the ones who decide our own destination of locomotion, but it is usually others who decide our leisurely fate for us.  In June of 2011, we took a mandatory vacation to be in Grimsby Ontario in order to attend the wedding of a friend.
     Weddings are a fascinating experience.  It’s amazing to contemplate the amount of thought that it takes to organize such an event.  In truth, the energy of orchestration might not be necessary, as the common trend appears to have the hosts following the same tethered template as traditional expectations allow.  Most weddings have an even number of bridesmaids and groomsmen.  The groomsmen wear black suits and the bridesmaids wear off-colored debutante brothel dresses.  The bride always looks hot, mostly because she’s wearing a dress made of lace, something usually reserved for lingerie.  The speeches have been known to induce snoring and the music often follows the playlist of a junior high dance.  Throw in a cash bar and you’ve got a real inhibitor.
     Weddings can also cost a lot of money.  Not only for the hosts, but also for the people attending.  Travel expenses, dress code requirements, missed days of employment, and gifts can easily add up to over a thousand dollars for each guest.  The wedding that we attended was hosted by an extremely considerate friend who graciously paid for Wendy’s bridesmaid dress and our accommodations.  This generosity made our mandatory vacation much more relaxing, but to remind ourselves that we ultimately had control of our own lives, we also planned our own trip to NYC for the upcoming 4th of July holiday weekend.
     Grimbsy Ontario is located near Niagra Falls.  We decided to make Niagra Falls the first stop on our trip.  We left on a Thursday night at 9pm.  A surreptitious source supplied me with a very effective dose medicinal caffeine, which help me stay awake through the all night drive.  We arrived to the Seneca Niagra Casino at 7am.  The casino was the first smoke filled public establishment that I had visited in years, and I was reminded of how much I missed inhaling post-digested nicotine.  We won $5 on the slots in the form of ski ball tickets, and we cashed them in for cash, and we left before anyone or anything could stop us from leaving.
     When we crossed the border into Canada, we did not have to declare our casino winnings to the border agent, but he did ask each of us if we owned a gun.  Wendy was off the hook on that one, but I have quite an arsenal.  I have a Crossman SASP36 that shoots like a dream.  I also have a Crossman Stinger P311, an M26C, and a Sabre HC16.  I take good care of my weapons and don’t shoot animals with them, ‘cause I’m practically a vegetarian.  In any case, I managed to get past the border guard on a technicality.  He asked me if I owned a gun, but I own many guns, so because he mistakenly phrased the subject of the question without a plural indicator, I was able to answer “no” to his question, and we entered Canada without any issues.
     Niagra Falls was spectacular.  When we arrived there at 9am, it was an incredible place of serenity and harmony, but soon thereafter, groups of Japanese tourists arrived pushing their way past us to get a better view of the falls.  To make matters worse, busloads of noisy germ ridden schoolchildren arrived on their annual field trips with the intent and purpose of ruining any peacefulness that might be found at the honeymoon capital of the world.  I threw a few sticks in the water and imagined the sticks to be the obnoxious schoolchildren and the inconsiderate Japanese tourists.  I got all warm and fuzzy inside as I watched the sticks flow over the edge of the falls.
     The highlight of my trip to Niagra Falls was our visit to the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum.  We got to smell dinosaur poop, touch the crotch of the fattest man in the world, and watch ants burn in the sunlight as they walked under a magnifying glass.
     That evening, we checked into our hotel and then met with the people who were participating in the wedding.  Everyone was very friendly.  I requested permission to do a presentation of skateboard tricks at the wedding, but I was politely told that it would not be a safe environment for that, considering the fact that alcoholic drinks were going to be provided (at no cost) to me and the other guests, prior to the all the events.  Now this sounded like it was going to be a good time!!
     That night, Wendy and I discovered a beautiful beach on Lake Ontario, near a military training facility.  Between explosions and gunshots, we found some time to have a quiet romantic moment together.  The next day, the bride-to-be hijacked my wife from me, so I revisited the beach and went for a swim.  I also drank some of the water out of the lake, just to see if it tasted like chemicals.  I spent the afternoon visiting a few local attractions, which consisted mainly of big box stores and strip malls.  The wedding went well, considering the fact that there were no fist fights, drownings, or unsuspected heart attacks.
     The next morning, we drove home, but along the way we stopped in Glen Falls NY to visit with Wendy’s grandmother.  I told her a few dirty jokes that I had heard at the wedding, and she laughed, so they were either funny or she couldn’t hear what I was saying and laughed to be polite.

New York - The Bottom

     Two weeks after our trip to Niagra Falls, we headed for NYC to enjoy the 4th of July weekend.  At one point, I had explained my logic about the Fung Wah Bus to my parents.  Even though it’s only $30 for a round trip ticket between Boston and NYC, the cost is actually much more.  The bus is by no means a comfortable ride, especially if you are susceptible to vertigo.  In the morning while riding the bus to NYC you are likely to vomit, thus “losing” the $30 dinner that you ate the night before at the Rock Bottom Brewery.  Dining out is more expensive in NYC, so you are likely to “lose” even more money on your return trip.  What appears to be a $30 RT experience can easily turn into a $100 loss.  For this reason, when my parents bought us our Christmas present in the form of gift certificates for travel to NYC, they made sure the transportation was via Amtrak and not on the Fung Wah Bus.  Fortunately, we made it to the city without experiencing any seizures or disgorgement.
     When we stepped out of Penn Station, which is located directly underneath Madison Square Garden, I immediately flashed back to the last time I visited NYC.  I had been there in 1988 to attend a string of Grateful Dead shows.  I buzzed with visions of Salvador Dali influenced skyscrapers, hustlers, pimps, and smokey hazes.  Wendy shook me out of my stunned daze and we immediately “b-lined” to Broadway.  Apparently, the Actor’s Union in NYC is extremely patriotic, and they refuse to work the night before or on the 4th of July, so this was our only chance to attend a Broadway show.  We arrived to Penn Station at 2pm, and we had about an hour to figure out what we were doing.  We had not bought tickets in advance, and many of the performances were sold out.  Last minute we found availabilities for tickets to see “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”.  It starred Robin Williams as dead tiger who haunts soldiers, and even though he didn’t get naked on stage, it was still very entertaining.
     That night we took a walk in Central Park and didn’t get mugged.  NYC had changed a lot since I last visited.  The city was as safe and as family friendly as Dollywood.  It took me countless hours just to find a good porno store that had private booths.  I walked the streets with literally no shoes on for an entire day, and I did not step on one hypodermic needle.  In 1988, Asian market owners sold me opened beers and put them in a bag, and although I was only 16 years old, I was encouraged to walk the streets and get loaded.  Those good old days appear to be officially over.
     That evening, we each had a glass of champagne at our hotel for the nominal cost of $60, and then we went to bed.  The next morning (yes... the 4th of July) we went to the Statue of Liberty.  If you go there on St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll probably be the only one on the boat to Liberty Island, but if you go there on the 4th of July, when the weather is beautiful, then you’ll have to wait at least three hours, just to get on the boat.  In any case, it was fun waiting in line and watching little kids pick their noses and kick their siblings in celebration of the holiday.  The Statue of Liberty was mildly impressive and Ellis Island was okay, but the truth is, I was more entertained with the fact that I was in a crowded public place where diseases like The Bird Flu, Ebola, and Mad Cow Disease could easily spread from person to person.
     We next visited Ground Zero and said a few positive incantations.  We witnessed a drug deal on the Brooklyn Bridge and then went to Little Italy.  It is a tradition, or a law, or something, for every restaurant in NYC to post their inspection report on their window, so I decided that we should have dinner at the restaurant with the lowest grade.  The point is, I always got lower grades than almost everyone else, but somehow I am smarter than most people, so it would make sense to reason that the restaurant with the lowest grade was better than most of the others.  The food was very good, but we didn’t have a lot of time to enjoy it, because we had to hustle off to watch the fireworks on the other side of town.
     The fireworks were okay, but what was more interesting was the crowd control.  There were a variety of “open areas”, such as parking lots, roads, and parks, that the police had decided could not be used for viewing the fireworks.  The public didn’t like these restrictions, so every fifteen minutes or so, they would move into the “open areas”.  The police would then threaten to start arresting people, and everyone would go back into their incubatory mass and spread diseases such as Swine Flu, Meningitus, and Monkeypox amongst each other.
     The next day we went to the “Top of the Rock”.  The view was excellent, and it was incredible to see how much we had traveled on foot the prior day, but what really amazed me was the lack of brown skin people on top of that building.  Our nation’s anti-terrorism policy of “guilty before innocent” seemed to be working so effectively that even Hispanic people were not allowed to the top of tall buildings.  A few days later, I mentioned this to a dark skinned friend of mine, and he pointed out my hypersensitivity to racial discrimination and explained the fact that the GE Building a.k.a. “The Top of the Rock” is not the tallest building in NYC.  He mentioned that white people are just too stupid to realize this, and that all the intelligent tourists visit the top of tallest building in NYC, the Empire State Building.
     Our trip home on the train was uneventful.  Neither of us vomited, had a seizure, or urinated on ourselves during the train ride, so I guess you could say our trip was a success.

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