I have a membership to the gorgeous American Museum of Natural History. I can say it's gorgeous because I have looked at it extensively online. I have never once set foot inside its doors. So when I scored two membership tickets to the Museum's almost-closed Brain: The Inside Story exhibit, I was excited to finally get down there and check the place out.
Starting the journey from the Bryant Park subway station (not far from my office) was simple enough. The tunnel to our platform smelled like most subway tunnels in the City (or anywhere in the world for that matter). Taking the B line would get us directly to the Museum's front door. Only the D train came along first. "Can we take that one?" asks PL. "Sure," says I - after a rudimentary scan of the adjacent subway map. B was next to D on the map, so why not?
Friends, let me tell you that the D train does indeed go to the Museum; it just doesn't stop there. Oh no, it goes shooting past the Museum at lightning speed and catapults you an additional forty blocks beyond it, ultimately depositing you in Harlem. Silence from PL - he is totally used to this with me. I just laughed - what more could I do?
Alighting at Harlem, we got on the Downtown platform and waited for the B train. I looked down to the tracks where PL was pointing and saw not one but three rats just going about their business. Up to this point, I had never even seen one rat, so three was a real (creepy) coup! Judging by their size they weren't particularly well-fed rats but I got a good enough gawk at them anyway.
The B train came along in a few minutes and got us back to the Museum smack at the time we were supposed to start our behind-the-scenes guided tour. Much to our chagrin all the obvious Museum entrances were bolted shut and entirely unattended. It became clear that we were not going to see the exhibit after all. Sad.
But as Reverend Mother used to say, "When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window". And so it was that I suggested to PL that we head over to Broadway and check out my favourite, Zabars. I had been nagging him about this store for weeks. "Now then, which way to Broadway?" I asked, only somewhat rhetorically. We both pointed in opposite directions. Again, neither of us were surprised.
Doing gourmet foreign food shopping works up quite an appetite, so we walked Downtown past Lincoln Center and through Columbus Circle, and headed to Guantanamera where we cashed in one of my Groupon vouchers for dinner.
I remember buying the Groupon because the restaurant sounded so cool. The online menu looked great, but I was quite taken with the promise of a live band and cigars. The latter only appears on Friday & Saturday nights, but the band was on from 8.30pm tonight and they were fantastic. Reminiscent of the Buena Vista Social Club album that I love so much, the band had energy and talent to burn. The seafood stew and warm chocolate cake & ice cream dessert that I stuffed in were probably not on my eating plan but did I care? Hell no.
On the plan, tonight was supposed to be good but geeky. Instead I went to Harlem, saw my first NY rats, and escaped to Cuba through music and food. Who can complain about that?