03 August 2015

My Big Fat Ticker Tape Fiasco



My partner had a business trip to New York City a few weeks ago. He was going to One World Trade Center for a meeting in the Conde’ Nast offices.  An impromptu get-a-way is something we both enjoy, so I was invited to go.

 It was a great opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and the “One World Observatory.  He made reservations at the Millenium Hilton across the street from the World Trade Center Complex. I pulled out my overnight bag and prepared to enjoy the city.

I received a call from my sister who watches the news much more than me. She is a great source of late-breaking information including weather updates. I now refer to her as SNN (The Sister News Network). So, SNN calls me and asks if I knew there was a ticker tape parade scheduled for the day of our trip?

Of course, I had not heard of the parade. I wasn’t aware of any recent major historical events  - no war heroes making headlines or astronauts returning from the International Space Station. Aren’t ticker tape parades supposed to celebrate some momentous occasion?


SNN advised me that the parade was for the US Women’s Soccer Team who had just won the World Cup. Wait, what? soccer, women, balls, cups? I don’t really follow sports. My idea of a contact sport is an actor storming the stage to receive their Tony Award.

I struggled to recall if I had heard anything about a soccer event. The only thing that comes to mind when someone refers to soccer is David Beckham. I’m not really interested in his sports prowess – he just looks good in underwear. Check out his H&M ads. WATCH!

Like Bonnie Tyler asked “Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods?” Recent ticker tape parades have celebrated sports teams and crowds go wild. I just don’t get crazy sports fanatics. It’s just a game, not a cure for Alzheimer’s. Most professional athletes are over-paid and over-promoted, and as media reveals, quite a few are not the hero type.

This country’s hero worship is very skewed. What about a ticker tape parade for the 9/11 first responders? They are true heroes. I understand that it takes hard work, determination and talent to play a sport.  Winning a championship is hard work, but they received an award. An official pat on the back is enough.

All I knew was that suddenly my trip to NYC was not looking so promising. We looked at the parade route, and it was physically a block away from our hotel. Our plan of taking a car into the city was squashed. Online information advised not to drive into that Wall Street District. No valet parking for us. It looked like public transportation was the mode of travel.

Let me share something - I hate public transportation. It is right up there with a hot poker in the eye or a tank running over my foot. Not something I really want to endure and it never has a good outcome. I will admit, I am impatient and don’t like crowds. Trains, planes and buses can be almost tolerable, but subways are the worst.

They are smelly, dark and underground. It’s like being a groundhog or mole, except you have to pay to be there. I dislike train schedules and having to wait for a ride. During rush hour, the cars are always packed, and if you have to stand it’s like a circus balancing act. I’ve been flung around more times than laundry in a dryer. Hold onto the slippery metal handrail and hope that the smelly guy next to you doesn’t take out your eye with his umbrella. During the whole ride, I think of Purell® and a Silkwood shower.

If you manage to secure a seat, you can wind up with someone’s belt buckle in your face. Being at crotch level with a stranger is not one of life’s simple pleasures. I can understand how the munchkins felt.  Perhaps that is why they sent Dorothy down the Yellow Brick Road so quickly.

Gary suggested we drive to Jersey City and take PATH right to the Financial District. I suggested we rent a limo. Guess which option won? The PATH train was busy at 8:30 am. I had a small wheeling suitcase to contend with. Getting into a standing room only subway car with luggage can be a challenge. I felt like I was trying to navigate a roller skating toddler who wanted to kick everyone’s ankles.

No one said a word as I juggled myself into place. I guess my Rasputin-like glare sealed their lips. I just had to stop my train of thought from derailing, as I was being hurled through the bowels of New Jersey. I never know whether to look up, down or stare directly into the eyes of a passenger while someone breathes down my neck.

I choose to glance around, and then I saw them. Dear God! A family dressed in red, white, and blue. They were on their way to the ticker tape parade that was disrupting my morning. I dripped a little venom onto my suitcase and gave them the stink eye. I heard some vague whisperings about soccer and then noticed a group of woman also displaying our country’s colors. They were homing in on the city like lions to a wounded gazelle.

Thankfully the train ride from the station was a short one. I only had to counterbalance my body, the luggage, and the distaste in the pit of my stomach, for seven minutes. The PATH station right next to the World Trade Center, was crowded. There were people headed to work, and the dreaded red, white, and blue soccer fans stumbling toward Broadway.

Lots of women were draped in flags, wearing bedazzled patriotic shirts, and buying foam rubber headpieces that resembled the crown on the Statue of Liberty. I really hadn’t connected the dots what a parade for a WOMEN’S soccer team meant - a huge amount of lesbian fans.  I’m not trying to perpetuate a stereotype, but it is women’s sports. Softball, tennis, basketball, field hockey – you know what I’m talking about. Lesbian women spend more time handling balls than a group practice of urologists. I had literally and figuratively walked into Ground Zero. I was in the midst of women’s soccer mania. I could smell the estrogen rising out of pavement.

Seeking refuge from Lady- palooza was my goal.  Hotel lobby was my mantra. I needed a drink and a place to store my pesky luggage. I had to maneuver through the pre-ticker tape madness. Luckily, we only had to survive two blocks.

I approached the Hilton like I was approaching the gates of the Emerald City. There was refuge – the desk clerk would protect me. I would find solace in the great and powerful concierge. Stow my overnight bag and point me in the direction of libations. I glanced around the large lobby, and gasped as I realized that my sanctuary had been invaded. Getting off the elevator was a group of women carrying flags and “Go USA” posters. OMG!! The last bit of my sanity was sliding into the void.

There had to somewhere I could escape to. Where was my fortress of solitude? I just wanted a leisurely trip to the city and a tour of the museum. Now, I was thinking about Xanax and a vodka I.V. drip. Sure, I was a bit overwrought, but I wanted the day to be on my terms. I didn’t need any parade raining on me.

Gary’s meeting was at 9:30 AM, and I had to find a place to land. I spied a nice alcove with two comfortable chairs right by a large window.  A great place for me to hang out and unwind. The view was awesome. I was directly facing the new One World Trade Center. I could watch the ongoing construction and be separated by a thick pane of glass from the groups of flag laden parade goers.  I enjoy people watching, and there were hundreds of parade spectators flocking past the window.

I really just couldn’t channel the excitement. It wasn’t the Macy’s Parade. There were no giant balloons and Santa Claus. It was just some women on a float and lots of paper.  There would be no giant soccer ball balloon. I doubted there were bands and flag twirlers.  Please, just let it be over.

Still they came - groups of star-spangled fans. It was like the gates had just opened on a Fourth of July Melissa Etheridge concert. I hope they were all going to enjoy their one-minute glance at their sports heroes. Let them revel in the New York minute and then get out of my way.



I hate to be right about things, but sometimes I just am. Faster than I could say Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova the parade crowd was headed back past the hotel. Was all this schlepping and hoopla really needed?  Was it worth the chance for women, and yes, families also, to come out in their God Bless America attire and scream “Go USA”?

I firmly believe we all need to have those feel good moments. There are far too many tragedies, and we always need a dose of the good stuff, but at what price?
It’s reported that the parade cost $2 million. The city paid $1.5 and there were
$450,000 in private donations. This is when “we” as a country misappropriate money.

What about using the $1.5 million on programs that will feed children who go to bed hungry every night, assist the homeless in the city, fund programs in schools to stop bullying, provide counseling for at-risk transgendered youth, or buy clean underwear for the Naked Cowboy?

We need to stop being so frivolous and really support citizens that are in financial need. The amount that was spent on just the cleanup was a big chunk of the parade price tag. We were on Broadway after the event and the there were piles of paper for blocks. Street sweepers and teams of city workers were everywhere. 
As dust and paper blew in my face, I had a thought - I have a paper shredder and a portable Dyson. I will gladly bring my shredded documents and toss them at our latest and greatest so-called heroes.  It certainly would cost the city a lot less money.

I can be entrepreneurial, and make a few dollars for myself, and the city can invest in its own resources. I have only one request. I want NYC and Mayor de Blasio to check with my travel itinerary.  No parades on my visits to Manhattan. I’ve experienced the PATH train. The next time I want to be shoved into a small space with a bunch of over zealous women, I’ll take a bus to the Ellen show.

4 comments:

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