Friday, November 29, 2013

Before The Parade Passes By

There are few things that clearly define Thanksgiving for me. 

There's football-particularly high school football.  From the time I was young, there was always some cousin, brother or son playing somewhere.  Games played on crisp autumn mornings with moms and cheerleaders wearing big pompom chrysanthemum corsages while turkeys roasted at home. The most popular members of the senior class being elected Homecoming King, Queen and their royal court.  In the blink of an eye, I went from wishing I was in high school, to being there, to ruefully looking back on those days. And it ticks me off that the big corsages went out of style before I ever got to wear one. 

There's the turkey of course. I remember the one my aunt dropped on the kitchen floor right out of the oven. My Mom blamed it on too many Pina Coladas until an MRI the following month showed an inoperable brain tumor. Her roast turkey recipe has remained, but we've added deep fried to the menu as well.

There are TV classics like Laurel and Hardy's "March of the Wooden Soldiers" and "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" and of course, football for anyone who didn't get enough of a high school game.

But for me, NOTHING defines Thanksgiving, like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Back before TIVO or  DVR's, we watched until our parents dragged us kicking and screaming away from the TV sets to go watch a high school football game.  How could they let us miss Mighty Mouse? Bullwinkle?  SANTA??? On the oft year that there was no one we knew playing, or the weather was too bad, we bundled on the sofa and watched frozen and sometimes rain-drenched balloon handlers maneuver the big balloons as the bands played on and oh-so-pretty dance teams tap-danced in front of the flagship store.  How I wanted to be any one of them...

In college, I worked at Macy's and could have taken the opportunity to be IN the parade as a clown or some other innocuous roll.  Instead, I always went home to New Jersey, because my mom would have been mad if I was late for dinner.  It is a decision that I regret to this day.

When the boys were young, Wingman planned a night for us to watch the balloons get blown up. It was a cold and rainy evening.  Son #1 had surgery a few days before to remove a hernia so he was miserable. The other two weren't much better as we made our way through crowded streets to see Kermit and others tethered to the ground like Gulliver.  As they whined and complained, Wingman excused himself to go to the bathroom, but went into a bar for a quick shot instead, which I saw and which turned me into a raving lunatic.  As much as it should have been a joyful night for the boys, I/he/we ruined it for them.

And so, this year, I set out to make a memory by going to the parade.  I mentioned it to son #3's girlfriend, who offered to go with me.  Bingo!  A girl who, like me, loves roller coasters, Christmas, my son and the chance to try something new.  She's a keeper.  Anyway, due to the nor-easter that blew through on Wednesday, we didn't know if the balloons would even fly.  With coffee, powdered sugar donuts and hopefully a little luck, we headed out. I even got up the courage to tell my mother that I'd be late for dinner.

The ride to the City was quick and easy.  I found a parking lot right near Lincoln Center and we walked a block to Central Park West to claim a spot to watch.  With maybe 9 or 10 people in front of us,I didn't think we were close enough to the action, so I suggested walking up to 59th Street, crossing over and watching from inside the park. Mistake. Big one.

We got to Columbus Circle and I found out that there was absolutely no place to cross.  People started pushing us from both front and back causing a crushing scene.  A foreign speaking man behind me started yelling as he pushed me hard.  After a similar experience in Korea, I told him to shut up and just relax.  The girlfriend however, was claustrophobic, so we worked really hard to get out of the fray so she could relax.

We went back to 64th Street and were much farther back than when we started.  But now we had Tim.  6'5" Tim from Brooklyn along with his sister Cory from Jupiter, Florida, who gave us a better running commentary than Matt Lauer.  He told us about the bands and marchers with glittered faces.  He yelled and waved to the people on the floats.  His commentary on the balloons was the hysterical-particularly the Elf on the Shelf he deemed "constipated". And he acted like a little kid when the big man in the red suit came by.  When it was over, we said good-bye to the people we stood near, and left for the rest of our day.

  Surprisingly, many of the balloons look a little ragged when you see them up close. The patches of their collisions are visible and many of them need a good paint job. They reminded me of pictures of myself-better viewed from a distance. 

So here's the recap on the cost of two babes in the City for one Awesome Adventure:

Tank of Gas:          $40.00
Tolls and Tunnel    $27.00
                                                              Parking                  $45.00 (Rat bastard thieves)
 One Lost earring    $50.00

Memories of a Great Day:  PRICELESS


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