Monday, June 12, 2006

I've Said "Puerto Rico" So Many Times That It Doesn't Even Sound Like a Real Commonwealth, Anymore.

There’s lots of things that can keep you from getting from here to there (and from there to here, on the way back) – car won’t start, spring just broke on your pogo stick (and your spare!), all you have is a bicycle built for five, and you’re beginning to think you picked the wrong day to drop the rest of the band and start a solo career, even if “The Paperback Novelists” is a stupid name for a band, and if that’s what they’re going with, then you quit! (All of which, by the way, would also make great answers for Scattergories “Reasons For Being Late” category – and I would know, because this one time, our game of Scattergories devolved into playing only that question and seeing who could create a story worth the most points within the three-minute time limit – alliteration is fun! And so are my weekends! No, really!) But all of those things pale in comparison to what I went through yesterday, because, as it turns out, that banned episode of Seinfeld was onto something, and if there’s one thing you don’t want to run into between point A and point B? It’s a Puerto Rican Day Parade (unless, I guess, you’re Puerto Rican, but even then, you better really like Puerto Rico). I mean, all we ever wanted was to go to the Apple Store.

But it became apparent, the minute that we stepped out of the Port Authority and onto the streets of New York, that we picked the wrong day to not be Puerto Rican in the city – because either everyone just happened to wear their “I [Puerto Rican Flag] Puerto Rico!” shirts on the same day (embarrassing!), or something was going on that we were clearly going to be on the outside of (and I guess there was also the slight chance that the bus accidentally took us all the way to Puerto Rico, but that seemed less likely, as the Caribbean Sea still felt pretty far away). As we made our way down the avenues and up the streets, the crowd thickened, and it wasn’t long before we were swimming against a sea of Puerto Rican pride, the blocks twice as hard to walk up as they are on the days when all you’re dodging is people asking if you like stand-up comedy (“Nah, I’m really more of a stand-up tragedy kinda guy, but if you’ve got tickets for that…”) and people who should just take the picture, already, so I could walk by! Sure, we were still blocks away from the parade, but then, I guess Puerto Rican pride know parade route!

The closer we got to the corner of 59th and 5th , the more pointy flag poles, “Go here after the parade!” fliers, and girls who, quite honestly, maybe should have worn more clothes and less…not-clothes that day, we were dodging. It sort of felt like the running of the bulls in Spain, except in any of the ways that it would be considered offensive to compare Puerto Ricans to bulls (because Puerto Ricans are not like bulls! What Puerto Ricans are is awesome! Though I have to admit, in some cases, just as tramply, but I’m sure that’s not a trait particular to their homeland.) Honestly, I think there were more Puerto Ricans in New York, yesterday, than there were in Puerto Rico.* Oh, and who knew a Puerto Rican flag made such a versatile accessory? Whether you’re going for smart (behind the ear), stylish (bandanas are all the rage, these days) or superhero (flag cape!), a Puerto Rican flag is all you need to go from boredrobe to wardrobe™!

So, after we finally traversed the four avenues, the 18 streets, the detour through Central Park that proved, by taking us an extra 15 minutes, that the shortest distance between two points really is a straight line, what did we learn? That everyone’s favorite commonwealth decided to pass right in front of our destination, and, despite the fact that we were the width-of-5th-avenue away from where we wanted to be, there was no way we were getting to the Apple Store, unless we had it in us to hop a few barricades and risk a run-in with a marching band.

We took the subway back.

Though this story does have a happy ending, because we did achieve our goal (which, by then, had become less about seeing the Apple Store and more about just proving that we could) after we churched it, and, like all Apple Stores, it was very cool to look at, but once your inside, it’s kind of like, “Well, either we buy a computer or leave, so…yeah, that was fun!” But still: It was fun. Oh, and incidentally, this isn't even the first Puerto Rican parade that I've accidentally gone to - but at least this one didn't inspire an ominous, "Kids...lock your doors..." from the front seat.

*Probably not true.

Background Noise: So it was going to be Rogue Wave’s “Salesman at the Day of the Parade,” which didn’t have much to do with what I just wrote, aside from having the word “parade” in it. But then I remembered The Gallery EP that they handed out at church, once. And, since church was the whole reason we were in the city, in the first place: Congratulations, Brett and Cynthia – you’ve officially been shout-outed.


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