The weather didn’t improve on our last day in New York City. On th fifth morning, snow flurries danced in the air By the time Chris left for work. Richard was free until later. It was a typical workday for them even though Rooster and I were still on vacation. Life goes on at its usual pace even with Thanksgiving leftovers in the refrigerator. Last year he hypnotized me. This year he decided to record a podcast with writer Molly Shea as his guest. I should probably mention my son is a therapist. He’s worked long and hard to get where he is today. About six months ago, he started a podcast called Talk Sex with D!ck. It’s not a porno site like the name might suggest. The focus is therapeutic in nature. One of his areas of expertise is sex, gender, and reproduction. He has two degrees from Indiana University, home of the famous Kinsey Institute. People send in questions and he provides an answer for them on his podcast. He also gives them resources and places where they can go to find help. Sometimes he has a special guest on his program. This morning the guest was me. The subject we planned to cover was my being the mother of a gay son in a small Indiana city.
For those of you who haven’t caught on, Molly Shea is a pen name. I decided to take on the Molly Shea identity when I ventured into the world of writing my Hen House Series. I don’t know why I felt the urge to take on a pseudonym. I guess it was the same urge Samuel Langhorn Clemons felt when he decided to become Mark Twain. I think his original name was pretty cool, but would he have produced the same storytelling style if he hadn’t invented mark Twain. Rooster likes the pen name idea. He says it’s like having another woman with his wife’s permission. He gets excited when Molly shows up at the house. I must admit, sometimes I get a little jealous. Maybe my fake identity and my husband’s strange attraction to it will be the subject of next year’s podcast.
I found the process of recording the podcast interesting. We got a late start due to technical difficulties. Richard bought a new computer for the specific purpose of recording these short interviews. After several calls to a support line and a download, we were ready to get started. Richard introduced me. We talked a little about my writing before we breached the subject of our mutual experience of what it was like when he came out to his family and friends. Overall, I found the interview to be a pleasant experience. I usually don’t like the sound of my own voice, but I thought the equipment he used made me sound pleasant. He does these podcasts wherever he finds a willing victim to play along. We did the recording at his kitchen table. Occasionally, you can hear the subway and emergency vehicles in the background. I thought it lent a particular New York City feel to the recording.
After we finished with the podcast, we strolled around the corner to eat lunch at a Greek restaurant called Omonia Cafe. The eatery had a pleasant local neighborhood atmosphere like what we would encounter back home in Indiana. It was the sort of place where you could find a good liar’s table if you walked in at the right time. The kind of restaurant where the old guys come to tell stories about their glory days. The most astonishing difference is the pastries displayed at the front of the restaurant. The most amazing desserts I’ve ever seen were waiting to be purchased behind a row of glass cases. This establishment couldn’t be trendy if it tried. The restaurant is a long-time resident on Broadway in the Astoria, Queens Borough of New York City. We enjoyed a pleasant lunch watching the traffic pass down the street in the snow through the eatery’s large glass windows.
Our next stop for the day was to travel to Manhattan to check out our son’s office. The snow had turned to rain by the time we got off the subway at the 34th Street stop. We climbed the stairs and walked into the cold and the rain. Richard’s office is only a couple of blocks from 34th Street. He took us to his new office and showed us around the practice where he works. It melted my heart when I saw all the degrees and certifications hanging on his wall. I knew he had them, but it was impressive to see them put on display. His holiday was officially over. It was time for him to get to work. There were several clients he needed to see before the day was done. Richard turned Rooster, and I lose on New York City with an anxious look spread across his face and a warning on his lips.
On the elevator ride to the first floor, Rooster complained about our son’s anxious demeanor. “I’m a grown man. I don’t know why he thinks I’m going to get lost or have my wallet stolen.” I had to remind my husband on our last trip he earned the name Rooster Swag because he fell for the free CD scam. I also brought up the fact we had to pay a dollar for the free hug picture I snapped at Union Square. “Well. Let’s see if they fall for the ‘I bet I can tell you where you got your shoes scam’ when we go to New Orleans,” Rooster said as he started to walk the wrong direction as soon as we left Richard’s office building.
The snow turned into a cold rain by the time we managed to find the subway stop on 34th Street. We descended the stairs and swiped our Metro Card. Richard told us we should take the train one stop to Times Square. We could catch our next subway from there. The plan was to journey to Central Park and take a horse-drawn carriage through the famous park. In theory, it sounded like a romantic adventure. We’d changed our mind about Central Park by the time we reached Times Square. The thought of a ride in the cold rain wasn’t nearly romantic as one taken in the snow. The quandary of picking the right subway to carry us to a location where we could find one of those carriages was also a problem. We listened to a cool band playing in the subway while we decided what to do to spend the two hours before Chris and Richard would be done working for the day
Rooster and I decided to hang out in Times Square. It wasn’t the first time we’d visited this area with magical electronic billboards. We’d come to the spot last year while we waited to get into The Cher Show. The steady cold rain on this visit covered the advertisements attached to the sides of the buildings with an eerie mist. The giant electronic signs advertising name brand products were muffled by the moisture. Their glow was dampened in the haze, producing ghost-like images of their former self. We found a local chain coffee shop where we could get out of the wet. Booths lined the front window. Rooster and I did some serious people-watching before we decided to brave the elements again.
Times Square is no stranger to gift shops where tourists can buy trinkets to take back home with them, proving they’ve visited the Big Apple. We meandered down the street until we found one of these tourist traps. It was the perfect place to spend time out of the wet weather. Chris called to tell us he was done with work and was headed in our direction. We bought a refrigerator magnet before we met Chris on the corner outside the gift shop. We walked the streets for a while, looking at the sights. We strolled past The Harry Potter play, which is impossible to get tickets to see. They do the show with two performances. It sounds like an exciting concept. We stepped into a chain restaurant to wait for Richard. We ordered after he took a seat at our table. I ordered a salad. Rooster decided to do a hamburger. We were charged an outrageous price for the food. (A tip for people visiting New York City. Don’t eat in Times Square. You will pay twice the average rate for a meal.)
The subway ride back to Queens was somber. We’d climb on a plane bound for Indiana in the morning. Our New York City adventure was about to fade into a million happy memories of a time spent with people we love in one of the greatest cities in the world. Folks told us when we got home, they wouldn’t like to go to a crowded city like the Big Apple. There were too many people crammed into that little piece of real estate for them. They wouldn’t care to ride the subway or walk in a continuous cold rain whenever they wanted to get somewhere. There were too many rude people in a city like New York. They didn’t want to stand in line everywhere they visited. Rooster and I thought our time spent in the Concrete Jungle was one of the best adventures we’d ever been on. We might not be young enough or courageous enough to live there, but it was a great place to visit. If we were lucky, we’d make a return trip for Thanksgiving next year. Maybe we might even be able to arrange a visit in the spring. I hear the city is beautiful at that time of year. There might be more than corn in Indiana, but nowhere in the entire state is it as exciting as a week in the Big Apple.