Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Manhattan

Forget New York at Christmas or autumn in New York. New York on Memorial Day is where it’s at.

Nobody is around. There is TONS of street parking. No lines at my favorite bustling restaurants. Museums empty.

I LOVE Manhattan on Memorial Day.

In fact, we left town this weekend, and headed to my parents’ place in the Jerse, for some masquerading as suburbanites. We filled up a little wading pool with the hose. We had bike races. We gardened. The children played with worms. We even played baseball in the front yard. And all of us HATE playing with balls – every single one of us, including David and Primo – but I guess having so much open space got us heady and we started slugging that shit out. Afterwards I felt wildly proud of all of us, like we were a model family, doing what families should, covering all our bases, so to speak, fulfilling a conventional notion of summer fun. It’s something that I, as the leader of a bunch of bizarre eccentrics, feel rarely, but when the sentiment strikes, I do enjoy it.

But we always like to end our three-day weekends in suburbia one day early so we can get back into NYC before everyone else and enjoy the emptiness for a bit.

Primo is in the throes of a serious Greek myth fever and just last night, we finished Part One of Tales from the Odyssey, by Mary Pope Osborne. The kid is OBSESSED with Odysseus and I am OBSESSED with him being obsessed with Odysseus. The level of pretention is so friggin’ high right now in our house, it would probably make you yak. But since he started this new monomania, he’s been begging to go back to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, to check out (again) the exhibit on Gods, Myths and Mortals.

If you haven’t been to CMOM yet, go soon, because the exhibit will be coming down. And it is so fantastic. The exhibit basically takes kids on O’s odyssey from the Trojan Horse (there is a mammoth wooden horse with four levels of kid-climbing fun) to the Cyclops and the Sirens and Scylla and Charybdis. It makes former-English-majors like me swoon.

So on the way home, we stopped by CMOM and – wonder of wonders – no one was there. It was like they’d closed the museum for a private event – no elbow-jabbing between the kids in the Dora the Explorer fruit stand, no throwing sand at each other in the sand table, no bogarting the Siren karaoke. I never get a taste of VIP but today I did. David and I decided we couldn’t go back until next Memorial Day.

Then we walked down to Zabar's and bought some fancy cheese and coffee and a bunch of imported black licorice for my grandmother since it’s her birthday and that’s the only gift she won’t complain about.

I even got to try the gelato at Grom which usually has a super-long line down the street. There was still a line but manageable so Primo and I ordered a gelato with nocciola, ciccolato fondente and coco (I let the kid choose the combo, what can I say?)

First authentic gelato I’ve tasted in New York. The nocciola was a dream of Rome.

Only trouble was the small – SMALL – cost $5.25 so I made us all share one and sent David went next door to Beard Papa to get a few mochi balls ($1 each) to supplement our ice cream fix.

Lovely day.

Dreamy dreaminess.