Saturday, May 31, 2008

Parental Visit Day Two: A tale of epic proportions.

10:15 am - so I wonder which level of hell this would translate to?

OK. So today's the day that my parents arrive, that I have to get them (along with Jonathan's parents) out to dinner together without incident, and that we will (hopefully) deliver the big news to (hopefully) the delight and glee of all. This, in and of itself, I was finding stressful enough. As we know, I came to the realization last night that my parents are not going to behave themselves, and it is I that will have to be the eye in the center of the storm, the voice of reason throughout the proceedings. I who will have to be the rock.

So I'm super excited that I'm on 5 hours of sleep, and that there's a crew of men banging on the exterior of my apartment building right now.

See, we live in a "pre-war" building. This is actually code for "hasn't been renovated (or cleaned all that much) since it was built in 1915". And that's fine with us; the place has character, with its crown moldings, high rounded ceilings, wood floors, and plaster walls. And it comes with that magical phrase that glosses over all manner of sins: rent stabilization. But every now and then some crucial bit of maintenance does have to be done. And apparently, this week that bit is to scrape the last 40 or so years' worth of accumulated rust off of all of the fire escapes.

The enterprising young men pursuing this endeavor were not at all dissuaded by the fact that today is Saturday, no. They in fact began their work at 7:50 in the morning, approximately five hours after I was finally able to get myself to sleep last night. Now, for some reason that I don't completely grasp, this job requires banging as hard as possible on these ancient metal structures. And it just so happens that today's assignment is the death trap / BBQ platform directly outside of my kitchen window, the one bolted to my bedroom wall. And so, since 7:50 am, no less than three full grown men have been serenading us with five floors of wrought iron xylophone orchestra.

Just the thing to put me in a calm, relaxed mood to deal with mom and dad!

* * * * * * * * * *

11:40 am - so that's why the banging stopped...

Around 10:50 or so, the banging stopped. So I was able to relax for a minute and have my breakfast. We figured that the guys were just on a ten or something, but the work did not resume. Maybe they're finished with that set? I'd seen them on the second floor, the one just above ours. Maybe that was their whole goal for today?

Jonathan went out for a cigarette, came back in reporting that he'd seen police outside. I peeked out, and the first thing I saw was a smashed car window. Ahh, I thought, isn't it wonderful when the neighborhood's children become teenagers. But people were gathering, and the police were yelling at people that there was nothing to see here (universal code for "there's something big to see here!")... and then there was the ambulance. So, maybe the car window wasn't the news. What was the commotion? I got a feeling. I went into the kitchen and just happened to notice about a gallon of fruit punch spilled in the alley below my kitchen window... below the fire escape. Or maybe... not fruit punch. I looked up to the fire escape on the second story, and saw that part of the railing was now missing on the side. Just about exactly above where that enormous red stain is.


So that explains the cessation of the noise, and the ambulance, and the dozen or so people milling around on the sidewalk out front; directly in front, in fact, of the gate leading out of the alley beneath the fire escape in front of my kitchen... I feel like an ass for not having seen or understood more sooner, but then images like that tend to haunt me, so it's probably for the best. The giant pool of blood I suppose is enough. I'm really just hoping that the kid's not dead. I mean, I wasn't exactly in love with them being here making all that racket so early in the morning. But I'm guessing it wasn't on their "top ten fun things to do on Saturday" list either, and I wasn't wishing severe bodily harm on any of them. Actually I just wanted them to have a day off...

Ah, well, anyway, time to go into the city and meet the folks!

* * * * * * * * * *

1:30 pm - It could be worse; it could be raining...

Mmm. Right. So I leave my studio, and it's pouring. And I'm the moron in the impractical shoes, because I haven't seen my parents in a year and I want to look good. Which for some reason requires not the most practical rain shoes. And it's as if the rain is coming on cue; it gets thin, and so out I step. But just at that moment, it becomes a torrent. So I run to the next enclave. But as soon as I duck in, It slows up again. So out again I go, only to have it come down again hard and heavy... By the time I make it to the subway my lovely, impractical shoes are slick and slippery on the inside, and I'm soaked up to my knees...

* * * * * * * * * *

1:45 pm - Seriously? On Lex? You must be joking.

But they weren't joking. There it was, with the grilled meat and the pineapple chunks and the cheap pashminas and the "Chanel" handbags only $9.95 - a goddamn streetfair. Ok. Sure. Of course. Why not. Why wouldn't there be a street fair on Lexington at 48th street the day that my crowd hating, agoraphobic parents are arriving?

* * * * * * * * * *

3:00 pm - Maybe they left the phone at home. Or did they think the flight was tomorrow?

The internet claimed that the flight landed at 1:51 pm. So no way were they still stuck on the airplane - and even if they were, they would have been allowed to turn their phone back on, to call me or at least accept my call. Unless, of course, they'd left it at home. I called their house, just to make sure my mom didn't pick up. She didn't pick up. Jonathan kept saying that they must have forgotten to turn their phone back on after landing, but how could they have forgotten? The captain and crew remind the passengers about when they can and can't use phones approximately every ten minutes. Finally, I just go down to the lobby to wait, hoping that they'll pop up.

And at 3:30, they pop up.

They forgot to turn their phone back on after landing.

This, of course, doesn't explain why they didn't call me upon landing, but what's the point? They're here, and there are bigger fish to fry...

* * * * * * * * * *

Fastforward: 10:00 pm - and they all lived happily ever after, because apparently hell froze over?

Well, it's done. The parents met each other. They got along just fine. The rain stopped. We all took the subway together, my parents included, down to Soho. And no one freaked out or got upset or anything. We even got seats. And we got to the restaurant, and it was half empty, and we got a nice table and ordered. And then, as planned, I put on the ring. And my mom noticed it first, not Jonathan's mom like we'd figured. And then I said it, and a cheer went up, and everyone was thrilled, and my dad ordered champagne for the whole table and then picked up the tab. We rode the subway home - seats again, even, for all six; Jonathan's mom was seen tearing up a little bit. We got them all back to the hotel, and slowly said our goodbyes to each parental set.

And now we're home, and exhausted, and relieved, and happy, and wondering how we pulled it off, and how we're going to get through tomorrow...

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