So my plan for this weekend, this lovely long 3day weekend for President's Day, is rest and relaxation. Apart from dinner with my friend Deesha on Saturday night I have nothing planned. I cannot wait.
Famous last words!!
Regular readers of this blog may recall that R&R was also the plan for LAST weekend except it didn't quite turn out that way owing to my last minute decision to join one of Rafael Risemberg’s Chelsea Gallery Tours that I enjoy so much. Rafael does a tour every two weeks alternating between a monthly "Best Exhibits" tour and a monthly tour focused on Gay & Lesbian artists, and last Saturday was the most recent 'Best Exhibits' tour where I happened to meet Bill and guess what....he asked me out and I went on a date with him on Sunday afternoon.
We had a nice time shuffling around New York for a while, despite sporadic blizzard-like weather conditions. It was so weird. It was sunny and a balmy 45F when I left the apartment to meet him at 3pm, so I didn't bother with the extra layer I usually have on me, or with a hat, because I was worried I would be too warm. I should have paid more attention to the weather forecast, because as soon as we arrived at Union Square and started walking over to the west village - what a surprise the 'L' train wasn't working again - the temperature had dropped significantly, the wind had whipped up and by the time we got to 8th Avenue it had started to lightly snow, so we scurried as quickly as possible over to Chelsea Market on 9th Avenue and 15th St to grab a coffee from the Ninth St Expresso - divine coffee, I only wish they would serve it hotter, although I'm scared to ask if they could just zap it in the microwave for 30seconds, I feel it would be offensive to them as artisans of the bean, especially as I once heard one of them laugh derisorily behind the back of a customer who had the nerve to ask for a macchiatto. "Where does he think he is," the hipster barista huffed, "Starbucks!!"
Fortunately this weekend's hipster barista girls were very nice, so Bill and I stood for a while chatting and sipping our mochas before venturing back out onto 9th Avenue to see how the weather looked. The snow had stopped, the wind was back to being more of a breeze than a gust, so we decided to risk a walk through the village, via Myers of Keswick as I had a yen for Heinz Tomato Soup - I'm a great date aren't I, I take my dates grocery shopping. Actually he was quite taken with Myers of Keswick and even happier when I treated him to a Crunchie. Americans, I've noted, seem to be particularly fond of Crunchies when it comes to British sweets, and Bill was no exception.
As we left Myers of Keswick the wind suddenly whipped up again and Bill pointed to the sky and marvelled at how fast the clouds were moving.
"Um, I don't think those are clouds", I said, "I think that's snooowwwaaaaaiieeeeeeeee!!"
That's the closest written approximation I can get to the kind of the noise I made as hundreds, nay thousands, of tiny snowflakes smacked me in the face. I started to really miss my hat at that point, but we both preferred to just continue walking around instead of popping in somewhere for another coffee so soon after our last one, so with an umbrella held against the wind we continued walking down Hudson and I pointed out the likes of the White Horse Tavern at Hudson and West 11th, the place where Dylan Thomas drank himself to death with 18 consecutive whiskies or something, before returning to The Chelsea Hotel to breath his last - I do like to woo my dates with grisly facts - and then made a left onto Leroy St where I pointed out number 10, which was used for the exterior shots of the Huxtable house for The Cosby Show, even though the Huxtables supposedly lived in Brooklyn, not the West Village.
Tip for tourists: the best places for loos without queues in bustling SoHo are contemporary furniture stores. The second floor of Crate & Barrel - first floor to Brits - on Houston and Broadway and the second floor of Room & Board on Wooster between Prince and Spring are your best bets.
Bill was quite taken with Room & Board and we wandered around for a while admiring designer sofas and what not.
As it turned out Bill is a big fan of architecture and design, and I quite like all that gubbins myself as a former wannabe architect – I studied architecture for a year before realising it was something I enjoy more as a hobby than as a potential career and switched to do a Maths degree. Yeah, yeah, yeah I'm a pointy head - so we spent a good while pottering around all the great designy places in SoHo including a visit to admire the fabulous ribbon like stairs in the Longchamp store at 132 Spring St.
After pottering around SoHo we headed up to NoLiTa for a nosy around, but most of the shops were closed, it had started to snow again and we were getting hungry, so we started looking for places to eat, ending up at Quartino, a fabulous organic Italian place on Bleeker at the north end of Elizabeth St. The only problem was that neither of us noticed it was cash only and when it came time to pay the bill neither of us had enough cash on us. Uh-oh!!
Bill, kindly volunteered to brave the cold and dash to the Chase ATM the waitress told us was around the corner on The Bowery while I stayed with our bags. The cash only thing seemed to be a bit of a problem for this restaurant as the women sat next to us had the same issue and shortly after Bill left to visit the ATM one of the women followed suit.
After 5minutes, she returned and the women paid the bill and left the restaurant. Bill still hadn't showed. Another 10minutes went by and I started to wonder whether he'd run out on the check. The waitress also seemed to think the same thing as she kept giving me concerned looks and making jokes about him being lost. I was worried, but then I still had his bag with me and he didn't seem the type. I sent him a text message asking if he was lost.
Two minutes later he stumbled through the door smiling sheepishly.
"The bank was closed" he said, “I had to go up to the Wholefoods to get cash”
"Did you try your card in the slot by the door", the waitress asked
"Um.....no, I just tried the door. It was locked"
"Yes, you have to swipe your card to unlock it" she laughed.
"Oh!! Hmmm. We don’t have that in North Carolina" said Bill
...and there's the catch kids, I had a very nice day out with Bill, but he's not of these parts, he was just here for the weekend visiting a friend.
It was fun for the 5.5hours it lasted!!