Yesterday's action-packed Independence Day began with a subway ride down to Chelsea on the significantly less crowded E train. The absence of crowds is one of the perks of staying in NYC on summer weekends. As the glitterati and other trendy folk flee en masse to The Hamptons, etc., they leave the rest of us with a quieter and, dare I say it, gentler Big Apple. Let the staycation begin!
Strolling down 8th Avenue to meet my dear friend Leila, I overhear a guy tell his friend--
"I slept alone last night." He pauses deliberately before adding, "By choice. All the women who have my number...."
His voice trails off as I walk past him, leaving me to wonder how he finished the rest of that sentence. I suspected, though, that his solo slumbering was not necessarily by his own design.
Leila and I had a good laugh over this while making our way over to the West Village for lunch at Rare burger bar. I somehow managed to resist ordering the fry sampler plate with 3 varieties and 4 dipping sauces, opting instead to indulge in the truffle fries. Delish!
Our next stop was the newest outpost of Grom, the popular gelaterie, on Bleecker Street. Dessert was made even sweeter by the absence of Grom's typically long queues. The Tirami Su flavored gelato hit the spot.
We jumped on the 2 train to Wall Street and headed over to one of NYC's summer staples - the street fair. In between the ubiquitous cheap t-shirt and ethnic food stalls, we stumbled across some colorful gemstone jewelry. Leila convinced me to abandon my accessory comfort zone and purchase a chunky turquoise necklace. For $10 and a pair of matching earrings, how could I say no?
Finally, we arrived at the day's primary destination - the Lower East Side apartment of another soul sister, Amanda. She and her two roommates continued their tradition of holiday hospitality, welcoming about 25 of us into their fabulous home overlooking the East River. In addition to patriotic red and blue Jell-O shots, burgers, hot dogs, pizza bagels and Amanda's legendary four-layer dip, we feasted on yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting that put NYC's overhyped Magnolia Bakery to shame.
With a picture-perfect view of the fireworks, everyone burst into a rendition of "America the Beautiful" that made me think of my beloved late mom. Mom adored this country. Every Independence Day, she would belt out patriotic tunes, clapping her hands and marching in place excitedly while watching July 4th celebrations on TV. It is because of her that I appreciate how fortunate I am to be an American. Thanks, Mom.
Leila and I joined the crowd assembled on the terrace, where we had a good laugh with Ross, a master joketeller with an uncommon modern-day specialty in PG-rated humor. With perfect pitch, he says,
"A priest, a rabbi and an acrobat walk into a bar. The bartender says--what is this, a joke?"
A little later, Ross has us chuckling again when we overhear him talking about the social networking site he belongs to.
"All of the girls from high school who've chatted me up seem to be unhappy in their marriages," he says.
Maybe there's something to be said for singlehood after all.