New York, New York

The first time I passed through New York—well, actually just the airport—was on my way to India back in the Seventies. My chief impression was amazement, that people actually talked like dat.

Twenty years later, I had a book published by St Martin’s Press. It did okay, well enough that they wanted another book, and maybe one after that, so I began to think that maybe I should pull up my stumps and go introduce myself. I had chosen an agent by eliminating those I couldn’t drive up and see, but there wasn’t much I could do about moving the actual publishing house into this time zone.

So in September of 1993, when The Beekeeper’s Apprentice was in production (for publication in early 1994) I got on a plane for New York, a young hippie mom venturing into the Big City.

My introduction to New York’s gentle manners was when I was standing in line (yes, I know, being New York I was in fact standing on line) for the shuttle bus into the city. For some ungodly reason, I had decided it would be a good idea to fly on the Monday of Labor Day Weekend. The line was long. The bus was stuck in all the other traffic trying to get to the airport. We were there a long time. And the young backpackers next to me, spotting the ticket-seller coming past, asked him in all innocence if he knew when the bus would come.

“You don’t want to wait? You don’t have to wait, you can have your money back, you want your money back, here, I’ll give you back your money, you don’t have to—” How you say, In your face? With each demand, the two Californians stepped back a little more, as if adjusting their stance to a high wind. When they did not thrust their tickets out to be exchanged for cash, the man gave up and went away, leaving two pale visitors who would think twice before venturing a question.

The bus came eventually, and we all crawled our way into Manhattan, but one thing I never have figured out: Why haven’t all the residents of New York just murdered each other in a fury?

In our next adventure: Laurie meets her editor, and is reduced to tears by a cover.

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  1. tangential1 on May 7, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Somehow, I can’t really picture you as a hippie mom. A mom, yes, but not so much a hippie.

    Although perhaps my view is skewed. Davis being the town where all the hippies come to retire when they get sick of Berkeley;)

  2. Jessara on May 7, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    I think it’s because they don’t have any repressed fury. They vent, therefore they survive. Beware the quiet ones; I keep remembering Son of Sam.

  3. Bachi on May 7, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Being born and raised in the NY Metro area, I feel obliged to protect and defend. It sound like what you encountered was a stressed out employee with poor customer service skills. I have encountered the same just about everywhere I’ve traveled. One of the worst encounters was at Denver Airport. Now, I’m not saying that the –In Your Face- delivery isn’t difficult for people to deal with if you are not accustomed to it, but rude and poor service, in any form is extremely troublesome especially if it regards travel and you are at their mercy. Given a choose between -done with a smile, indigent with power, or loud and in-your-face, I choose the in-your-face, ‘cause I was raised “Back-At-Ya” and haven’t been murdered yet!

  4. Bachi on May 8, 2008 at 1:11 am

    I really wish we could edit these posts like we can the posts in the VBC, I hardly ever get it right the 1st time,

    Just in case someone is wondering about a few of my mistakes above

    It sound… s/b It sounds…

    Given a choose… s/b Given a choice

    …indigent… s/b indignant (this one cracked me up)!

  5. admin on May 8, 2008 at 8:32 am

    I have enquired from the Powers Behind the Throne, aka the Software Queens, if it’s possible to add to the program. Not holding breath…

    Besides, typos are often a cheery way to start the day.


  6. nkk1969 on May 8, 2008 at 9:40 am

    [Davis being the town where all the hippies come to retire]

    Retired Hippies? I love ’em! I worked for a wonderful older hippie gal who retired a few years back. It was five great years of sewing while listening to books on tape and burning incense. (People often remarked on the different smells clinging to their clothes when they picked them up.) Mondays were always tons of fun because she regaled me with tales of what happened over the weekend at the Unitarian Fellowship.

    “But, Sheila, you’re a Buddhist. What’s at the Unitarian Fellowship for you?”

    “Oh, honey, the UF is a bunch of folks who where raised to go somewhere on Sunday morning. Most of us don’t really believe anything, but we do need somplace to go and they have coffee and donuts.” LOL

    Sorry Ms. King. I just can’t quite see you as being a full blown hippie. You’re much too, umm, grounded.

    About New York: IMHO, the people are great fun, but the city makes me claustrophobic and I can’t wait to get home where I can see the sky.


  7. nkk1969 on May 8, 2008 at 9:43 am

    P.S. Hey Bachi, is Mama Leone’s still in business?

  8. Bachi on May 8, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    I’ll have to ask my friends, you forget I’m displaced out here in MT!

  9. LaideeMarjorie on May 8, 2008 at 3:17 pm


    Mama Leone’s is long gone. If you are looking for something similar in Times Square on your next trip, there is Carmines (family stye service) or Bond 45. I went to Mama Leone’s as part of a high school class trip in the early 70’s. I remember it being terribly expensive and not very authentic for good Italian food. I am very happy to say that a visit to the city is a much pleasanter experience now than it was back then, whether for food or for the general ambience! If you ever need a recommendation for a place to eat, let me know. I live in Connecticut, but I go to the city often.


  10. nkk1969 on May 9, 2008 at 7:12 pm


    I have fond memories of ML’s from the early ’80s. I used to love to go there with my friends. The food was not expensive when you shared a meal, and since the plates of food were huge, it worked out. We didn’t go there for the food anyway. As teenagers we mostly went for the show the waiters put on. They could fill a water glass from the other end of the table–a thick, steady stream shooting down the length of the long table–without spilling a drop. And then there were the strolling violinists who serenaded us. We felt ever so grown up and sophisticated. 🙂


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