I thought Manhattan was supposed to be flat!
–my dad while walking up 116th St from Riverside to Broadway
My parents came for a visit on Saturday, their first to see us since we moved and likely my father’s first trip into the city together since I was maybe fourteen years old. He’s not much of a city person, you see, and he would be the first to tell you–his first words to me when they poured out of the taxicab early in the afternoon were “I hate the city.”
Under normal circumstances I tend to shrug off these kinds of pronouncements from him and think them unfounded and exaggerated…but then my mom proceeds to inform me that they have stories and they already had a run-in with the NYPD.
It ended up not being nearly as big a deal as I thought: they were wandering around Penn Station looking for taxis when a guy approached them and asked if they needed a cab. He said it would cost $17.50, so they followed him to a yellow cab and my dad handed him $20. What they didn’t know (and we didn’t think of because we never take a cab from Penn Station) was that scammers are all over the station trying to rip people off while “fetching” them cabs and then walking off with their money, the grifted left to pay the driver to get them where they want to go.
They didn’t sweat losing the 20 bucks all that much, thank goodness, and I’m pretty sure they had to endure a lecture from their cabbie on how they should NOT SPEAK TO ANYONE EVER in the city…but then their car was pulled over by the police. A plainclothes officer showed them his badge and said that he had caught the guy who ripped them off, and amazingly retrieved their $20 bill! Michael and I were floored when they finished telling their story over eggs and coffee at Deluxe–it all felt ripped from a cheesy romantic comedy meet-cute moment and not something that would actually happen in real life.
Stranger things have happened, I suppose.
The rest of the trip was mercifully smooth: brunch was delicious, and we took them on a tour of the neighborhood, keeping them within the relatively safe confines of Morningside Heights and going no farther north than 120th St. They enjoyed seeing Columbia, of course, and enjoyed the views availed by both Riverside and Morningside Park. Our apartment passed muster (I think) and we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon chatting in our living room.
Dinner that evening was quiet and simple: I was craving cacio e pepe and we served it with some fried okra, the entire process barely taking twenty minutes to do, and we toasted to our relative success in showing my country-preferring parents a fun afternoon in the city.