He was the sloppiest, nosiest, bossiest date I had ever been with. On the other hand, he was funny, interesting and certainly the most handsome guy I've ever met - but I would think that about my own son, wouldn't I?
Yes, it was one of those rare opportunities that I decided to take advantage and spend an afternoon alone - on a date - with my oldest son. No little brother in tow, no big Daddy to get in the way - just the two of us.
Our date started after art class and when I picked him up he was already a barrel full of questions.
"Where are we going? Are you going to spend money on me? Can I buy something really cool?"
"I thought we'd get some lunch first," I suggested.
"Lunch?" He asked as if I had invited him to look at furniture. "But I'm not hungry yet!"
"Good, because it's about a five block walk from here and we might have to wait."
Two blocks into our walk, he says, "Are we there yet because I'm starving!"
Any other day, I might have rolled my eyes and let out a grunt of frustration but this was our date, I just laughed.
We went to Grey Dog's Coffee in Chelsea for lunch. They have three locations, the original is on Carmine Street, another on University Place and the 16th Street one is the newest. I heard the food was awesome and the coffee, phenomenal so, that sold me. The crowd was young and hip, the music was loud to match and though it was a little intimidating at first, I coaxed my date into staying. It wasn't hard after he heard a large cup of Hot Chocolate was involved.
It was the steamed milk and real cocoa kind - can Mommy have a sip?
"Mom! You said just a sip!"
Resisting the hot chocolate wasn't as hard as picking out a sandwich, everything sounded so good. The B.L.T., the Grey Dog's Club, the Pulled Pork wrap - oh, the list was endless. We went with the Beef Brisket Press on Challah bread and got a mountain of fries to go with it. Needless to say, my date inhaled over half the fries and that coupled with the giant mug of hot chocolate, he was set.
The place got Mommy's vote - it was a lot of good food for nine bucks. The staff was friendly with the hip bus boys calling him "buddy" and the babes saying, "Awww, how cute." My date was in heaven.
We left the restaurant ready to explore and immediately, I was bombarded with the questions again.
"Where are we going next? Can I buy something for myself or will I have to share it with my little brother? Etc, etc."
I just watched his mouth go a mile a minute. Since he wasn't giving me a chance to answer, like he refused my offer to clean his face, I just listened to the sound of his voice resonate through the chocolaty ring caked around his mouth.
We made our way down towards the East Village and the whole time he talked about his imaginary friend, the talented Doctor Ripperts. Apparently, Doctor Ripperts was working on a new machine that was going to change the world. It's top secret, of course, so the work could not be discussed with an average citizen such as myself. But I told my son to relay my best wishes on the project and give Doctor Ripperts a hearty congrats on his new born baby who is only eight days old and is already eating baby food.
After an earful of Doctor Ripperts, I asked if we could talk about something else.
"Can I buy a toy?" My son asked.
I gulped because I knew the nearest toy store was either the excuse of a Toys-R-Us at Union Square or the absurdly expensive Toy Tokyo on Second Avenue.
You have to understand that the East Village and Manhattan in general is not really a shopping mecca geared for kids. Teenagers, maybe - young folks, definitely and even their babies, possibly if they are the eight-hundred-dollar-Bugaboo-stroller kind. But kids wanting toys are a reach. For a middle class kid like mine, there's getting Trader Joe's stickers from the cashier followed by a round of "Let's-Spot-The-Heroine-Addict," passing through St. Marks Place. So I lied.
"I know a really fun place where we can get you something," I said, knowing it was a long shot.
The Whole Foods in the Bowery had a section upstairs full of interesting items that a kid could want. Odd stuff such as chopstick trainers, cool water bottles and if that failed there was always the huge confectionery island right smack in the middle of the ground level.
As soon as we walked in, some dude who resembled Philip Seymour Duncan asked if we wanted to try a sample of designer flavored water. My date loves free food samples. He opted for the "red" one which was cherry-pomegranate.
"Do you approve?" Philip Seymour Duncan asked.
My date nodded, said thanks with an expression that basically said, "carry on."
Though the store was a dud as far as finding something fun to buy, my date loved hanging out in their huge cafeteria with the view of bustle on East Houston street. It was there that he decided he needed a new pair of sunglasses.
Rested, we made our way towards Broadway, where I intended to conclude our date at the Scholastic book store. Along the way, he paused for a photo by a wall of graffiti.
Then we passed by one of the street vendors who sold sunglasses and Bingo! A pair of really cool shades like the one Cyclops wears in X-Men was his, all for five bucks.
It was a good thing we made that find because we were not impressed with the Scholastic bookstore. I'm not crazy about their books to begin with but the layout itself was rather confusing. Was it a bookstore, a toy store or a party place? On the way in, nobody said hello and some chick in a mini-skirt and low cut blouse was throwing little bags of promotional Pirate Booty to the dude in the Pirate costume. They gave us each a bag on our way out, to which I thought - uh, thanks for the bag of White Cheddar crumbs.
Before our subway ride home, we entered our final destination: Dean and Deluca. To say Dean and Deluca is overpriced is like stating that Adrian Brody has a big nose. Thank you for stating the obvious, now can we watch the rest of King Kong?
As my date gawked along the endless counter of homemade cupcakes, mini-pies and cookies and the hand made chocolates, candies and breads his senses went into overload.
"I can't eat all of that, Mommy."
Guess he didn't realize I was offering him a choice - not the entire buffet.
"That's okay," I said. "How about this small box of chocolate mints?"
His big, bright smile was confirmation enough. Did he mind that I picked up a bar of dark chocolate with almonds for myself? Of course not, he helped himself to two pieces of it and stashed away his own booty - the good stuff.
"Do I have to share this with my little brother," he asked before he nodded off on the train ride home.
"No, Sweetie. It's all yours."