new york, part three, anything but miserable

The back story:

Part One

Part Two

Walking out of the theater, neither Katie nor I could stop smiling. The air was cold, the city aglow in that magical twilight that comes with a midwinter’s dusk, and endless possibility.

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{image is a photo of a car that was parked across the street from the theater. In the snow blanketing its windshield, someone has traced the word, “COLD.”}

I looked at Katie and asked what she wanted to do. It was only 4:30, after all, and we had no plans. She shrugged. “I’m not really sure.” She was lying.

For months, Katie has been obsessed with Les Miserables. She plays flute in her school band, where they’ve been working on “I Dreamed a Dream,” she sings in the chorus, where they put together a medley of tunes from the soundtrack, and, thanks to having fallen in love with the music, she put the book at the top of her Christmas list and had been reading it since she unwrapped it on Christmas morning. She knew exactly what she wanted to do. She wanted to see Les Miserables on Broadway.

I had tried desperately to wrangle tickets before we’d gone. The only available seats for the dates we’d be there were $147. Each. Plus fees. It was, of course, worse through the scalpers. It just wasn’t doable.

Twenty-four hours earlier, we’d been standing around the island in my dad’s kitchen on Long Island. It had been a long couple of days surrounding my grandmother’s funeral and we were losing steam. I’d reluctantly told my dad that it was time for us to hit the road. He reached into his pocket and handed me two neatly folded fifty-dollar bills. “So you have a little spending money tomorrow,” he said. I’d started to cry. “You need more?” he asked. I’d started to laugh. That’s my dad.

I asked Katie if she wanted to walk over to Times Square. “As long as we’re right here,” I said, “we might as well.” She agreed.

I steered us to the electronic tote board outside the TKTS booth, the iconic red and white building in Times Square that hawks same-day theater tickets at deep discounts. When I saw Les Miserables on the board, I asked Katie if she wanted to go check and see how much they were. Her face lit up. I warned her that it still might not be doable, but we could look. She nodded so hard I worried her head might go rolling off into the street.

We walked over to the booth and made our way through the scrum of confused tourists, aggressive locals, and a couple of guys trying to quietly scalp their wares. The lines, as always, were ridiculously long. And then a guy working the booth yelled into the crowd, “Can I answer any questions?” I answered, “Um, yeah, how does this line work?” He pointed to an unoccupied window. “Well, there’s no one at that one. Go for it.” And so we did. Zero wait. It seemed too good to be true.

I asked the woman at the window what she had available for Les Mis. “Rear mezzanine,” she said. “$120.”

It took me a moment to process. “$120 for one,” I asked, “or both?”

“$120 all in,” she said. “Total.”

I looked at Katie, who was now bouncing on the balls of her feet. “Do you want …”

“YES!” she yelled.

“Um. hold on,” I said. “These are REAR mezzanine. These are REALLY far from the stage ..”

“Last row in the rear mezz,” the woman behind the window added.

“Are they IN the theater?” Katie asked.

I laughed. “Yes.”

“Then YES!” she said.

“We’ll take them,” I said, sliding my credit card through the slot in the window, then turning to Katie to add, “Thank you, Papa.”

She squealed, “Thank you, Papa!” in return.

I then sent Luau a text reading, “This is her Oh My God We Just Got Tickets To Les Mis Face.”

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{image is a photo of Katie in Times Square looking very, very happy.}

 With a couple of hours before the show, we decided to make our way across town, have dinner and hit Dylan’s Candy Bar. Not necessarily in that order.

But first, we had to check out the scene in Times Square. It’s changed a LOT since I was a kid. And I’m not entirely sure it’s for the better.

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{image is a photo of Katie standing in Times Square doing her best impression of, well, a tourist in Times Square.}

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{image is a photo of Katie walking by two different Statue of Liberty street performers, one green, one silver. The green one is trying to get her attention. Her response? “There can only be one.”}

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{image is a photo of  the scene just to the left of the Ladies Liberty: Two Elmos, a Mario, and a Woody, all wearing backpacks tp hold their money.}

I’m not sure when Times Square becoming a gathering ground for amusement park characters gone rogue, but it’s weird. Bring back the Naked Cowboy, people. That’s entertainment.

Anyway, not feeling particularly compelled to stick around, we walked East. And landed here.

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{image is a really badly lit photo of Katie standing in front of the entrance to Dylan’s Candy Bar.}

For those who haven’t been to Dylan’s, picture walking into Willy Wonka’s candy factory. It’s THREE FLOORS of candy. To put it another way, if you’re thirteen and love sugar, welcome to Mecca. It took her twenty minutes to choose a candy bar from this one, tiny section of the store.

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{image is a photo of Katie staring at the classic candy bars. We didn’t move from this spot for a while. A very long while.}

Finally, we headed up to the main floor to hit the “penny” candy.

Ed (very sarcastic) note: Our story is about to take a tragic turn. I’m warning you so that you can emotionally prepare yourselves for the blow.

After heading in different directions around the circle of candy bins to make our selections, we met up where we’d started. “I didn’t find the strawberry puffy puffs,” I said, “Did you?” She said she hadn’t either, so we made another loop together. Nuthin. We searched the perimeter of the store. Nothing. Increasingly panicked, we found someone to ask. After keeping us waiting just long enough to convince us he’d forgotten we were waiting, he came back to say that they MIGHT have them on the lower level.

Katie and I bolted down the stairs and frantically searched the shelves to find … NO STRAWBERRY PUFFY PUFFS. I know. What has the world become? I think perhaps a moment of <sarcastic> silence for the sadness is in order.

But there wasn’t a lot of time to grieve. We had a show to see.

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{image is a photo of our tickets to Les Mis}

…. to be continued.

2 thoughts on “new york, part three, anything but miserable

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