When I learned that my Florida friends Fred and Sonia planned to spend the summer in NYC, I was thrilled. A lifetime New Yorker, I would guide them to the special, hidden treasures this great city offers.
I made a list. From the big-splurge restaurants to the Chinatown bargains to the dive bars. From free Shakespeare in Central Park to the outdoor concerts in Prospect Park. From the Times Square TKTS discount booth where they could get Broadway tickets at half price to the less-crowded TKTS booths in Brooklyn and the South Street Seaport.
I told them that New Yorkers walk instead of drive, which is why we are all so trim and incredibly attractive. We ambled the 20 blocks from my house to Lincoln Center, and they didn’t complain. Good sign. I gave them my handwritten list of locations that only a real New Yorker would know, then left them to their own devices.
A week later, I got a call from Fred. They had already visited Chinatown — twice. And while they enjoyed the $5 dumpling platter at Wonton Garden that I suggested, wasn’t Prosperity Dumpling’s $2 dumpling platter an even better deal? Uhm, haven’t tried it . . .
And the museums! Yes, they enjoyed the Met and MoMA, but didn’t I also love The Jewish Museum and El Museo del Barrio? Can’t say — haven’t visited either. I changed the subject. Isn’t it wonderful how our 24/7 subway gets you everywhere? Actually with so much to see they preferred to walk, including a 90-block trek downtown to SoHo and TriBeCa. Ninety blocks? Really?
They gushed about their breathtaking stroll over the Brooklyn Bridge at dusk. Right, I vaguely remember doing that once. And yes, Central and Prospect parks offered endless discoveries, but what about Riverbank State Park, they asked. Surely I was familiar with the magnificent park off 145th Street with its 800-seat theater, 150-seat restaurant and 2,500-seat sports athletic complex, not to mention the spectacular promenade views of the Hudson River, the Palisades and the George Washington Bridge?
Oh, that one . . .
Before they departed on Sunday, I swallowed my NYC pride and asked them to repeat the names of these cafes, parks and other gems.
They wrote me a list.
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.