Saturday, December 19, 2009

Be sure to look both ways.

My father is very generous. My mother never spent; Dad overspent. His purchase philosophy remains "it only costs a little more to get the very best." Between the two of them, our family had good stuff that my mother usually found at a bargain price as she was 'very reluctant' to spend money. It seems a lot of things they acquired over the years were 'investments' of 'good quality'. Often, however; there would be confrontations between them over his spending versus her frugality. Most expenditures had to be justified. I think I have inherited both my mother's and father's emotional issues regarding money- which, in me, still remain in conflict.

When Stephen and I moved to New Jersey with young Justin, Andrew, Kathryn, Olivia, the dog and cat, we first lived on the 34th floor of The Marriott Marquis hotel in Time's Square. We stayed there for several weeks while Stephen worked as a computer consultant in Mid-town Manhattan. While he was working during the day, the kids and I tried to experience all that Manhattan had to offer for free since we had very little money at the time. However, if it meant we'd miss out on a significant experience, unique cuisine, or 'investment in quality', we'd find the money.

Eventually, we found a home, across the Hudson river in New Jersey, where the majority of Stephen's consulting work would continue. Since we'd just moved from Omaha, Nebraska, it had been quite a while since we'd seen my folks who years earlier had semi-retired and lived in Canada. They made the trip to N.J. to visit and stay with us once our life had quieted down. Eager to share our experiences in New York City we made several suggestions for Museum trips, shopping excursions, cultural events, fine dining, and sight-seeing. We settled on a trip to see the current Broadway show called Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk starring Savion Glover.

Dad told Stephen to call the theater to inquire about tickets for the eight of us: his treat. My mother and I both began to wring our hands at the anticipated cost the day's event would incur--transportation by train and taxi times eight, tickets times eight, meals etc.--all at inflated New York City prices. While Stephen was on the phone, Dad called out from the other room, "Ask for 'the best seats in the house'!". Again, he was going to get the very best. Soon, we had eight front row seats for a 7:00 first-run Broadway Show in New York City.

We all took the train to Penn Station--about a 40 minute ride from our home in New Jersey. During the ride, we all sat together and talked in wonder about the infrastructure of a major metropolitan city and the local news--the most topical being Mayor Rudy Giuliani's latest measures to decrease peak-hour gridlock, accidents, and increase the flow of traffic at high congestion areas. Mayor Giuliani had imposed strict Jay Walking laws with a hefty penalty for violation in the high-congestion areas, even erecting pedestrian gates at key intersections to prevent jay walking.

Arriving at Penn Station, Dad, Mum, Kathryn, Olivia and I took one cab to the theater; Stephen, Justin, and Andrew took a second one, each which required about a 10 minute ride depending on city traffic. Our cab arrived first so we positioned ourselves outside the theater and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Dad suggested we go into the Italian restaurant across the street, get a table and start with a pre-theater appetizer while he waited outside until the boys all arrived. We did. And it was quite some time before Dad finally entered the restaurant wearing his wool tweed hat and coat. Stephen and the boys were just behind him, and they were all enjoying a laugh.

I expected Stephen was sharing a story explaining their delay, but Dad approached the table quickly and quietly explaining he'd been propositioned while he stood just outside the door, and was invited 'down to the docks', ensured he'd have a 'very good time', and it 'wouldn't cost much' by a fairly attractive, scantily clad, young woman.

We girls tittered, the boys shared knowing elbow jabs. Dad was downright flushed!

My mother misheard him, however; somehow she thought he'd been ticketed for Jay Walking! Mr. Giuliani's latest victim. She became irate.

She sharply banged her fist on the table making the silverware bounce and the dishware clang and exclaimed loudly, "You tell them you refuse to pay whatever it costs! We're Canadian, and we WON'T pay!" She protested, growing louder and more angry, she was sputtering and working herself up creating quite a case in their defense. We were confused at first, until she demanded, "I will write a letter to Mr. Giuliani, MYSELF, and tell him that we can do that wherever, and WHEN ever we want in OUR country!"

We now realized what had happened, and we all burst into laughter.

This made my adamant mother very angry. "WHAT?" she questioned us. "You've never done that in the middle of the street? I have hundreds of times, and I have NEVER been ticketed. Who does Giuliani think he is picking on tourists and expecting them to pay huge fines--how is anyone supposed to know it's not allowed here?"

When we were all finally able to catch our breath, we explained what WE were talking about versus what SHE was talking about. More explosive laughter.

By the time we caught our breath the second time, the waiter approached our table and said he was glad we were all enjoying ourselves.

The Broadway show was good, too.

1 comment:

  1. And once she caught on, she laughed the hardest of all. She could laugh at herself like nobody else.