The cab pulls up to a corner.
“It’ll be 52.50,” announces the driver, then the old man jumps out to get our bags. I see the red numbers glaring back at me from the dash. I knew this would be just the beginning of how quickly I could spend what little cash I had.
“OK, here’s my ten bucks, I swear I’ll pay you back!” insists Molly as she plops the money in my hand and tries to open her door. She shrieks as a car honks, splashes black sludgy ice and races by. It is followed by one after the other of furiously racing vehicles from the corner light.
“Well then, I’m sliding out on your side,” insists Molly.
She places her bag in her lap as she closes the door and scoots over to my seat. I count the cash and open the door just in time to see the cabbie tossing both of our roller suitcases in the salty black snow. We climb out onto the slippery curb and precariously walk over the piles of charcoal looking ice to take our luggage. After handing the driver a wad of cash, without so much as a word, the man does a quick count and trots back to the get in the car. Molly and I exchange questioning glances as if to say, HOW RUDE, and without a second thought, both of us say with a full southern drawl:
“Thaaaaaaank you!” we chime out together.
“Yea, whatevah… welcome to New York,” he says over his shoulder as he hops back in the car and speeds away tossing more snow behind the vehicle as it skids out in front of another honking car. The cabbie quickly responds by sitting on his horn and flipping him off.
“Well I guess we are here! I hope you didn’t give him a good tip!” Molly exclaims.
“I think I gave him a crappy one… like a few bucks. I couldn’t bring myself to give him more than that, he was less than pleasant to ride with. Anyway, I have a feeling we will meet many more seemly rude characters here.” I say as I pull my scarf over my nose and straighten the handle on my suitcase. We both laugh and shake our heads. Molly looks from one corner to the other as she stands on the wet sidewalk with her roller bag. The small phone screen is now up in front of her face as she scans through the texts. I take a second to text also my sister:
“Hey Nat! we are here in NYC! Looking forward to seeing you soon!” I say.
“I’m on my way! Long day but I will be on a bus, so I don’t have to get someone to drive me!” She responds.
Molly begins going through the directions that Shannon has just text her aloud:
“OK, so Shannon said she’s at the apartment and we have to walk across 6th and then go around the corner. I see 6th street right in front of us so, we cross to there…” she points to the other side of the street. “Then we have to be buzzed in by Shannon but first there’s a code we have to type for her to let us in. I guess that’s at the door? Yea…it’s inside the main entrance of the building. I’m waiting for your buzz!” she reads.
The green crosswalk man lights up and we rush across to a tall brown brick building that looks like it has seen many rough years in this city. When we make it to the building both of our boots are soaked from the slushy ice. The only heavy jacket that I have with me feels like a jersey as the wind rushes around us and manages to completely cut through every layer of clothing I have on. At this point, all I can think about is being inside. My brain is quickly processing the misery: How are we going to get dressed up for a party and go out in this city? I can barely tolerate being in the cold for 10 minutes!
We enter the front door’s small vestibule and are enveloped by the stagnant warm air. I can hear the water dripping onto the floor from the luggage as Molly attempts to punch in the code. The worn metal face has a faint green light behind it. The keypad is located on the side of a dark brown 70’s style doorway and it seems to be in its last days. The platform that the pad is attached to gives with every button Molly presses. Suddenly, there is a loud buzz and an interior latch at the door releases. I begin to anticipate what will appear behind these large ominous doors. Perhaps it will be people dressed in 70’s clothing or a vortex back into time… this place reminds me of my college dormitory; that was built sometime circa 1975.
We push the doors open and see that it leads directly to a narrow stairwell. We awkwardly pull our bags behind us as we climb the rickety staircase. The wheels of our luggage tap loudly against the black vinyl stair surface. I can smell cigarettes, mold and faint cheap perfume…or maybe, was it an air-freshener to mask everything else? Whatever the case, the odor was stale and not pleasant. We look up to see Shannon is waiting at the top of the stairs. She is excited to see us and clapping her hands.
Shannon begins telling us the rundown of tonight’s schedule that neither of us are aware of,
“So, Natalie took the Fung-Wah bus from Chinatown and she should be here around seven this evening. It’s like 4 right now, so, I was thinking we could get some sushi after you guys get all of your stuff where you need it,” she smiles.
Molly and I set down our things in the minuscule hallway behind her front door. The tiny bathroom is immediately to the left of the front door. It has a bright green shower curtain and a matching fluffy toilet seat cover. We quickly realize that this is an efficiency apartment. The tiny front door foyer opens into a barely 10’ x 10’ living room space with a kitchen that fits 2 people (not comfortably) straight ahead of us. The small wall where the stove is also serves as the side of her loft bedroom. The only privacy to the bedroom is a sheer curtain and small half wall. I notice that she has a full sized bed that just fits inside of the loft niche. This is hardly enough room for 2 people. There is a brown love-seat and a small antique chair in the living room. I start wondering how this is going to work. We never really planned out the accommodations because Shannon had promised all of the (12) bridesmaids that she had “plenty of room”. What we failed to realize is, that was in terms of New York standards.
“So how many girls are staying here besides us?” I ask.
“Well, Natalie will be here later, you two and probably 3 or four more people. It really depends on who makes it here tonight.” She stands in between the love-seat and the chair and points around the room.
“I figured we could line the bags up in the foyer hallway and then you guys can help me move the furniture around. I have a ton of pillows and blankets. We are going to just treat this like a slumber party!” announces Shannon.
Granted we are all poor and early twenty somethings, we agree it’s a great way to save money and have fun in the city. I begin to regret my frugality as I access the “sleeping area”. At least this will only be for a few nights.
“So what exactly is the Fung-Wah bus?” Molly asks.
“OH! It’s like the best way to get from Boston to New York. The trip is about three hours depending on traffic but the drivers drive super fast so you get here quickly. They travel from Chinatown to Chinatown. It’s so cheap too and a culture shock, always a good story when you travel Fung-Wah!” laughs Shannon.
I exchange glances with Molly. I cannot imagine my sister on a bus from Chinatown by herself. However, Natalie has been living in Boston for a few years now and the big scary cities seem to suit her well. I have a feeling that Shannon was the one who reassured Natalie that all would be safe when it probably wasn’t. The real issue was that no one was coming from Boston and Natalie did not want to drive herself. This was definitely going to be a crazy ride story from Natalie, I was certain.
“Well this is so great! I’m so excited you guys are finally here, I have been planning for weeks. I have all of these decorations I want to place around the apartment for Natalie before she gets here. We can start on this after we get something to eat and some drinks to tide us over. I was thinking it would be fun if we all did decorating together. I also have posters because we were going to write some messages for Al when we go to the today show live. I have plenty of glue sticks and GLIIIIITTER!,” squeals Shannon.
She then tosses plastic bags filled with streamers, pink metallic letters BACHELORETTE and various sized rainbow metallic penises. She points out the bright yellow pile of poster boards leaned against the living room wall.
“This is going to be so much fun! I forgot to mention, I need some help picking up the cake for tomorrow night. Would you guys mind walking over to the bakery with me? It’s pretty big and I cannot carry it myself.” Shannon smiles at both of us as she awaits our answer.
“Sure, where do we need to go?” I say.
“Oh it’s just a few blocks We can stop at the liquor store and get something for you guys to drink when we go too. Just wait until you see it, Natalie will be SO psyched!” trills Shannon.
“What is it of?” laughs Molly.
“Well, its HUGE to say the least and is cream filled. The best part is the cream shoots out!” giggles Shannon.
“Wait what?” I say.
“It’s EXACTLY what you think. It’s perfect and this place is the best in New York. It’s called “Masturbakers” I booked her cake like over a month ago,” states Shannon as she grabs her coat off of the wall mounted rack.
“If you guys are OK with going now, we can grab some sushi and alcohol on the way back from picking up the Big P cake!” She waves us toward the door.
Shannon grabs her keys as we set down the plastic bags full of metallic decorations and start re-layering our clothes to prep for the frigid walk to fetch the cake…