My sister Amy, much like the Muppets, has taken Manhattan. We haven’t lived in the same time zone for eight years, so it’s pretty exciting to be able to call her without having to go through the exhausting mental gymnastics of subtracting three hours. Also, the only female to ever properly execute a simultaneous headlock and wedgie maneuver on me is now just a short train ride away, and that is most excellent for many reasons, not the least of which being that her proclivity for applying said maneuver seems to have diminished greatly ever since she became a lawyer. Lawyers can give people headlocks and wedgies with words.
So now when my wife Kara and I visit Amy in the Big City, we don’t have to worry about carry-on luggage and putting on our prettiest socks for the security people. We just hop on a train and relax for a couple of hours, listening to the surrounding cell phone conversations and letting them lull us gently to sleep like sweet lullabies, sweet, cacophonous lullabies about the merits of piercings vs. tattoos, punctuated liberally by laughter that could wake road kill.
Since we know we’re going to be doing a lot of walking in the city, we pack in our old camping backpacks like we’re attempting a through-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Somehow during the packing process, Kara stops looking at me as her husband and starts viewing me as her own personal burro.
“Oh, can you fit my boots in there, too?” she asks, looking at the cascade of tampons, purses, hair dryers and Gap jackets overflowing out of the top of my bag.
“Hee-haw,” I reply, adjusting my saddle blanket.
Last weekend, Amy was traveling away from the city, so Kara and I selflessly volunteered to keep her vacant apartment from getting all lonely and dusty in her absence. This is a service which we provided (perhaps a little too generously) completely free of charge. Sometimes you just have to make sacrifices for family.
We also enlisted the help of several of our friends, just to make doubly sure that Amy’s bed, couch and floor were properly slept upon while she was away, keeping them nice and broken in for when she got back. If you’re going to do a job right, you need good help. Besides, Kara and I couldn’t be expected to go out on a Saturday night in New York City and drink enough alcohol to get ten people drunk all by ourselves — that would have been totally irresponsible. You need at least five people to do that.
When my buddy Josh and his wife Jaime arrived at Amy’s building, I met them in the lobby, gave them a high-five and a hug, respectively, and strolled over to the elevator with them, not paying any attention to the man who came up behind us. Had I been more alert, I would have let him get on the elevator first and then quickly come up with a reason why we needed to wait for the next one. Unfortunately, I didn’t have this foresight, and I paid the price for it.
Josh’s favorite game to play, besides Fill up the Hard Drive with Illegal Material, is a pastime most aptly described as Embarrass Mike in the Elevator. Whenever we’re on an elevator with a stranger, properly observing elevator etiquette by standing in silence that is only mildly awkward, Josh likes to turn to me and say things like, “Oh, I hope there’s a view. It’s going to be so romantic up there.”
Last weekend, as we stood in the elevator with the stranger, watching the digital number beep upward towards Amy’s floor, Josh looked at me and asked, “So has that rash cleared up yet or what?”
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