Before we left for the beach, I was imagining Gatsby's Long Island which I am reading while in New York. Palatial mansions by the ocean, Gatsby's hydroplane over a clear blue sky ... but it turns out that we were nowhere near the fictional setting of West Egg (based on the town of Great Neck) and East Egg (Sands Point) on Long Island Sound.
The beach was powdery white and astonishingly clean. It was filled with families and couples enjoying the good weather. I read The Great Gatsby on the beach and our offspring ran along the edge of the water and played with the younger kids. A and I brought back hot dogs and fries from Five Guys, a burger joint down on the main strip. It felt like we were hundred and hundreds of miles away from NYC but we were only a short train ride away.
|In Times Square with friends ...|
Surprisingly, J was a bit overwhelmed by Times Square - the crowds, the lights, the heat, the flashing lights. I believe her first remark upon entering it was an astonished, "Too big, too bright!" I remember her reaction was much more muted the first time we were there together three years ago.
|Times Square at dusk as taken by J|
One of my goals on this trip was to return to the Stage Deli, 834 7th Avenue (between 53rd & 54th). We have been going to the Stage Deli since the 80s. On the first or second trip there I said to R in an offhand way during a particularly enjoyable breakfast that I liked the ashtrays they had (although neither of us smoked, I coveted one). They were red and white, fit in the palm of your hand and embossed with the name of the deli. Quietly, R slipped one in his coat pocket and showed me later what he had done (much to my delight).
|Stage Deli by night ...|
"Did you tell him you had stolen an ashtray the last time?" my daughter asked. "Of course not!" I told her.
So we set off for the Deli that warm Wednesday night. Some things had changed. The restaurant was (physically) exactly as I remember it from the 80s but the waiting staff tended to be older then. Now the staff seems younger and more racially diverse.
The prices have certainly increased exponentially and the portions are still enormous, almost unmanageably so. But we eagerly dug into our BLTs and pastrami sandwiches. The three kids tackled an enormous piece of Oreo cheesecake with whipped cream at the end of the night (just barely finishing it).
And I liked the idea of passing on the Stage Deli story to J - should the kid come across the ashtrays
|J enjoying her matzoh ball soup.|
A New York moment:
As we were waiting for our friends at Penn Station there was some confusion about which ticket counter we should be standing at, J and I went in one direction, R went in another searching for them. It was hot, we were getting tired. We passed an older Mediterranean-looking man, small in stature, mustached, wearing a small cap and carrying a cane, who was standing stock still in the middle of the station, doing nothing in particular. J and I glanced at him quickly as we passed him and he looked at us and said, "Meow!" Not a "sexy" meow, not a "You're being catty!" meow, just "Meow!" as in "I think I'm a cat" meow. I looked at J and involuntarily swore ... what the? What was that about? Then we both burst out laughing!