Sunday, August 17, 2008

New York with the folks

I have very equivocal relationships with cities - and New York is no exception. I not-so-secretly fantasise about one day buying a little 1 bedroom place in Greenwich Village and taking ultra-long summer holidays here (when the cat dies). But at the same time, all I have to do is switch on the tv or go to a restaurant and I'm filled with fury at how noisy, confident and often insane so many Americans seem to be. I guess it is a sign of a good holiday when you return home feeling refreshed, not regretful, and ready to return to your normal life.

My parents were here with us for some of the holiday. It is their first (and probably last time in America - my Dad is in his 60s so doesn't like to do long flights). We decided to pull out all the stops for them by paying business class, hiring a limo to take us from the airport, and taking them on a helicopter tour over Manhattan. My Dad said it was the best week of his life. My mother is unable to speak except for making the exclaiming "eeee" noise that Geordie women tend to make. It was kind of stressful having them here - I worried that they would get lost or into trouble. At the Empire State Building, my mother caused an incident at the x-ray detectors when a strange knife-shaped object showed up in her handbag. This caused all the security guards to start barking orders at her, none of which she understood - instead she walked back through the metal detectors while the security guards were screaming "Ma'am, get back! Get back!" I had to intervene and said "She doesn't understand English." It turned out that the offending item was an affro comb with a curved handle. I don't know why she had an affro comb on her. She also had a compass (she likes to know where north is at all times) and five pairs of sunglasses of different strengths (she doesn't like sunlight - she claims it gives her eyes electric shocks). Considering those few facts, it's suprising that I turned out as normal as I did. However, she impressed everyone on the third day by announcing that she was going to Macy's unaccompanied. She managed it, taxis and all. I think she would cope in New York, just another crazy little old lady, walking around and talking to everyone.

My Father on the other hand was regularly mistaken for Irish (his accent his completely incomprehensible), and every mealtime was a potential ordeal. He likes food. A lot. To say he lives for food is an understatement, and that he is likely one day to die from food is also sadly true. But the Americans like food too, so we thought this would be the one place in the world we could take him where he would not pull a sulky face at the menus and food portions. On the whole he was impressed - although he didn't think much of the breakfasts "Where's the tinned tomato and mushrooms?", and wanted to know where the brown sauce was. He ordered rice pudding for dessert and was mortified when it arrived and was cold rather than warmed up (I swapped him my apple pie). He also moaned that he couldn't get his favourite drink "lemon and lime) (lemonade with a dash of lime cordial in it), but seemed happier when he discovered Mountain Dew (even though they have it in Britain he rarely buys anything that wasn't on sale in 1975). So it was nice to have them around, and to show them around, but it was also a relief to have a few days at the end to recover. I have probably stored up a few good karma points. But in writing this nasty expose, I've probably wasted them all again!


Fin De Fichier said...

Love this narrative!

KAZ said...

You were very brave - I never ventured to take mine on holiday.

I also carry a compass around - but I need to know where the south is!

Flaming Nora said...

A wonderful post. I also make the "ee" noise :-)