Saturday began early for I was anxious to see everyone and wanted to get an early start. Kelly and I had gone to bed around midnight and I was up at 6:40 AM. I showered and then headed downstairs to sit on the couch and read until everyone else woke up. Kelly was up early too, and so we waited for vickyandnorm (Norm and Vicky) and kruppenheimer (Lisa) to awaken and get ready. It didn’t take too long but it seemed as though it took forever. However, we were ready to go by 9 AM, which is what I was hoping for, and at that point, we hit the road.
We made a brief stop in Nanuet in order to pick up bagels at the Rockland Bakery. Kelly thought it was pretty cool how you could wander about the freshly made racks of bagels and breads and pull of what you wanted. It was also cheap. $4 for 8 fresh bagels. Lisa got her bagel sandwich and then we hit the road and headed into New York City. There was no traffic and it was a smooth ride down. We parked in a garage at the corner of 2nd Avenue and 85th Street, half a block down from he11o_sunshine and stubiebrother‘s house. Lisa headed off to meet a friend of hers (the details of which will be appearing on her blog, I’m sure) and Kelly and I headed up to Jen and Jason’s place. Doug and Rachel were not there yet. In fact, when I texted Doug, he told me Rachel was still sleeping So we sat around chatting until they finally arrived.
So excited was I, that I ran out to meet them in the street, dashing across 3rd Avenue when I spotted them. They came up to Jen and Jason’s and we sat around a while longer, eating bagels, talking, it was great! Jen and Jason gave me my birthday present, which is a flight down the Hudson River to the Statue of Liberty for two. They know someone at a Bed and Breakfast who runs these flights and that sounds just so cool to me! Doug and Rachel also gave me a really cool gift: a cooking lesson from a place in Arlington that both Kelly and I can go to learn to cook something new. There are a variety of classes to choose from. I’m very excited about it.
Finally, we left Jen and Jason’s, headed to Duane Reede to pick up some essentials and then we walked into Central Park. We lucked out on weather. It was warm, with a breeze and clear blue skies all day long. We wandered into the park at 86th and 5th and gradually made our way down to 59th and 5th, taking in sights along the way. We saw some performers, we walked across the Bow Bridge, and passed the Bethesda fountain. We took some pictures. We smelled the horses. It was terrific.
When we arrived at the south end of the park, we split up. The girls, Kelly, Jen and Rachel all headed on the subway to Jen’s showroom to look at clothes. The guys, me, Doug and Jason headed into Mickey Mantles for some food and drinks. strausmouse joined us at Mickey Mantel’s a short time later. Within seconds of Eric sitting down, both Doug and Eric had pulled our their respective baby pictures and were swapping them with one another, in a strange male-bonding ritual that I had never before witnessed. We drank beer. We ate feed. We had some tequila. We watched the Yankees lose. In no time at all, it seemed, the girls were back and joined us. We stayed for another 45 minutes before heading out. Doug and Rachel went back to their hotel to get ready. Eric headed back to his. Jen, Jason, Kelly and I took a cab up to Jen’s place to get our stuff, and then Kelly and I got a cab down to the W New York to check in.
Norm met us in the lobby and got us checked into our room. The room was on the 15th floor and was the smallest hotel room I’ve ever stayed in, not much more than a bed. But we were also paying the discounted rate that Norm gets and it would be impossible to complain about a nice small room for the price we were paying in the heart of New York City. We got ready for dinner. I showered but I did not wash my hair. This piece of information may seem trivial even for me, but it will play an important role in the story tomorrow, so don’t forget about it.
Finally, dressed to the nines, Kelly and I headed to the lobby bar to meet up with everyone. And just about everyone was there, looking amazing. Aside from myself, and Kelly (who looked incredibly gorgeous in the black dress she’d gotten for the occasion) was Doug and Rachel (in a Vera Wang dress), Jen and Jason, Norm and Vicky, A.J. and Denisse. A little while later, kevnyc (Kevin) showed up, and shortly after that, Lisa arrived. People mingled, talking, drinking. I abstained from drinking before dinner because I’d had quite a bit to drink at Mickey Mantle’s.
At 8 PM, we headed to the Rainbow Room, which was about 4 blocks away. Almost everyone walked, but Norm, Vicky, Kelly and I grabbed a cab ride there and so we were the first to arrive. We headed up to the 65th floor and I gave my name. We were seated at once at the best table in the restaurant. It was a corner table on the southwest corner of the building and we had a spectacular view of midtown Manhattan to the south, and western Manhattan, the Hudson River, and New Jersey to the west. We were seated as follows, from the southwest corner, clockwise: Denisse, A.J., Lisa, Jen, Jason, Kevin, Doug, Rachel, Ryane, Eric, Kelly, myself, Norm, and Vicky. Incidentally, rmstraus had presented a paper in Chicago earlier in the day and flew into Kennedy at 8 PM, and still managed to make it to the dinner before anyone had ordered their food.
We ordered drinks and I set the trend my ordering Planters Punch (they have the best at the Rainbow Room Grill) and 10 other people followed suit. We chatted, we took lots of pictures, we scanned the menu. I asked Norm to help select wine and he did so. We shared three bottles among the table. Eventually, we ordered our dinners. I can’t even begin to tell you what everyone had, but I had the beef medallions, which were excellent. Of the three years I have hosted this dinner, this was by far the most successful. I made a brief toast, where I thanked those people like Doug, Rachel (who came in from Seattle) and Lisa (who came in from L.A.) for coming as far as they did. I also pointed out that this was a birthday “bash” because there were really multiple celebrations Involved. Denisse and I share the same birthday. Kevin, Jen and Jason’s birthday are all within the next two weeks. Finally, I pointed out how lucky I was to have so many good friends and siblings.
We ate. We laughed. We drank. We joked. We took pictures. We ordered desserts and after dinner drinks. And finally, the evening wound down and it was time to leave. But the party did not end there. Kevin headed home. Eric, Ryane, Norm and Vicky headed to their hotels. A.J. and Denisse followed suit. Jen, Jason, Doug, Rachel, Lisa, Kelly and I headed back to the W. Kelly and I changed our clothes and then met everyone back in the lounge. We sat around talking and drinking Kelly finally went to bed at 1 AM but I didn’t head up to bed until 2 AM, after last call, and after watching Doug in rare form, high-fiving random guys in the bar and having a good time. I saw Jen and Jason in tears from laughing so hard. It was a terrific end to a terrific evening and a spectacular day.
To be continued…