Bedazzled

I was just wondering the other day as we walked into Times Square, surrounded by those giant billboards and dazzling neon signs, the crowds, the clouds gathering steam above our heads and the insanely tall buildings – what if Charlotte Brontë found herself here? I will tell you why that strange thought entered my mind. I was carrying a capacious cloth bag that I had bought at the home of the Brontë sisters in Haworth the previous summer. On it is a logo drawn out in lashes of thick black ink which puts you in mind of Charlotte sitting at her mahogany desk.

It makes for such a wild leap. Haworth to Times Square. The house in the open country leading to the vast moors, a time capsule of sorts, and then several worlds away it seems, this ultimate tribute to capitalism.

‘It is a strange kind of parallel universe,’ Charlotte might have noted in a letter to her dear sisters, never mind the alcoholic Branwell. ‘The girls they wear pies on their heads, the men wear shiny costumes with crowns around their heads and I cannot take my eyes off the neon signs towering above me. I fear my neck might snap off from the effort of staring and swivelling my head to take it all in.’ One thing is for certain – that it would have been a welcome reprieve from the dark industrial world she was born into.

To return to Midtown Manhattan to the arms of flashing neon capitalism. The billboards that dwarfed us, Broadway marquees, the people braving the heat in their motley costumes – indeed here was butch Liberty walking around with her beacon of hope, a couple of Spidermen chatting with passers-by, a Minion or two there and the Fat Blue muppet. Odd to think that it was the centre of a horse exchange trade sometime in the 1870s, then its reputation as the ‘Thieves Lair’ because of the seedy entertainment (gambling and prostitution) it offered and its sudden growth following WWI… Times Square has history and the promise of a gazillion musicals to make the head spin. Adi and I did not know where to look.

There was a reason why we had ended up last Saturday in Times Square. During a pitstop in an Irish pub for strong ales to tide the sudden stifling heat outside, we had a craving for Buffalo Wild Wings. The last time I had tried it (also the first time) was in Seattle with my sister-in-law and her family. We ordered up portions of Wild and Mango Habanero wings along with a sampler of Blazin’ wings which arrived as a small tub of sauce churned out of  Ghost Pepper. It is Bhut Jolokia, a hybrid chilli from India and one of the hottest chillies in the world. It would be no surprise therefore that I could feel my ears singe. Meanwhile my tongue begged to be soaked permanently in a vat of beer.

With it came the realisation that no longer are Adi and I ready to take part in the Blazin’ challenge which means that you have got to eat 12 Blazin’ wings in 6 minutes, without using a napkin. Burning skin, burning ears, burning everything…you would be on fire and really have earned that place on their wall of fame. It makes me shudder to think that my young niece has a plan for her mother and I. She is of the opinion that we can conquer the ghost at The Wing Dome, a local Seattle wing hotspot, where they have a similar 7-Alarm Challenge.

Where beer could not help, sweet treats did. I took refuge in bite-sized cupcakes, and in the matter of a few minutes, crisp churros coated with chocolate. Adi was delighted. For the rest of the evening he kept calling out to the fat girl who lives inside me.

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Perchance, Charlotte travelled to NYC
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Bigger and badder indeed
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She loves her pie
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Eye-catching marquees
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Times Square’s busy persona

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Wings to make you sing
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Cookie-creme offerings from Cupcakes by Melissa
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Double chocolate and salted caramel mini cupcakes
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To round it off – chocolate and almond encrusted churros. Let’s not live half a life.

These Fleeting Days of Summer

Midday. I was standing on Broadway, the stretch on Bayonne where a row of ramshackle storefronts stands shoulder to shoulder. Old-timers from the look of it. Dry cleaners, pizza joints, a dental center or two, a bank… humdrum life passed by me. Then an old geezer flashed by on a Harley. One of those muscular, red breeds. Not the man, the bike, broad, low-slung and stylish. Its rider’s blond white moustache defied gravity in the face of momentum. It was all over his face not unlike bleached cotton candy (if it could glide in the air). Now I have seen all kinds of moustaches – the narrow, pointy and long Dali one, the broader Chevron, the spaghetti variety…but this was the stuff that legends are made of. I suppose if doormen of old hotels, with their plush Victorian whiskers, were asked to take over the roads on superbikes, they would look just so. Of course they would have to swap their livery for leather. You’ve got to respect tradition.

The humidity levels are abating and my hair feels better already. On early evenings, I find myself savouring sprints in the park. They are no longer a painful chore. Is autumn knocking on our doors already? It certainly feels like it as I jog down to the waterfront, the heart and feet pounding at tandem along the length of the wooden path that trails through marshy green acres by the mighty Hudson, long reeds swishing in the cool breeze of the evening. A solitary gull steps nimbly through tiny pools of water, peering intently into the shallow bed. It is a great stretch for birdwatchers, for warblers, herons, yellowlegs and egrets like to swoop in once in a while for their inspection of the scabby marshes. The turnpike bridge over the bay brings in a spot of the city in the backdrop but otherwise you might as well be in the boondocks. Nearby in wooden sheds, people have scribbled odd somethings.

I wonder if it is true – what they say about the park. At one point it had been a boat-building factory where PT boats (Patrol Torpedo boats which were torpedo-armed fast attack crafts used by the US Navy during WWII) were manufactured. There was supposed to have been an accident at the factory. A boat fell off its railings crushing two men. The daughter, of one of those unfortunate men, is said to roam the area calling out for daddy. It is a good thing that I wrap up my run before dusk falls.

It would be even better if I could manage to take Adi running there and he could encounter the young girl. He is such a braveheart. But no, that is not to be because my husband shall not be budged from his seat on the couch. Nowadays he is working from home, and in between work, sneaking in sessions of solving puzzles. We have been incredibly indolent this summer. Apart from the occasional jaunts into the city, we have been sitting at home, doing it up slowly, binging on TV shows, reading, tucking into popcorn and pizza, attending rooftop barbecues and meeting neighbours, guzzling bottles of wine and hunching over jigsaw puzzles apart from demolishing home-made cakes quite readily. A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips. Who cares? Not Adi. He will have you know, if not through words, that he Shall Not Run because my man is a man of action, if I may say so.

I have been ripe for a disjointed summer ramble for some time now and this is my bit towards the end of summer musings along with some photos from Bayonne.

Toodle-oo.

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