Because I’m planning on traveling (oh reeeeaaallly?) I’ve been immersing myself in all things travel all day, errryday. One of the main things that I’ve been looking into is ways to keep expenses down since the amount of time I’ll be traveling, and the number of countries I’ll be seeing is directly proportionate to the amount of money I’ll be saving. Cue couchsurfing.org. Long story short, couch surfing is a way for travelers on a budget to save on lodging by joining a community where people offer up their couches/guest bedrooms/futons/bunkbeds/hammocks/shoulders to sleep on, for free. All in all, it seems like a really good idea, but as a female traveler I’m obviously a little wary of staying with strangers/having strangers stay with me. In order to combat the idea of a having a complete stranger or weirdo sleeping with you (not in the biblical sense) they have a function on the site sort of like a facebook wall where you can leave and read references for different members. Even though I have yet to commit to using this service, I figured it couldn’t hurt to be a little surf-ually active and engage in meet ups with members in order to build up credibility.
A few days ago, John from CS (couch surfing) messaged me saying he was coming in from south Jersey for the day and was interested in seeing some parts of the city off the beaten path. I agreed to meet up with him on Sunday afternoon after my watching my friends/cousin play soccer, even though I had no idea what to do as a tour guide.
It was bright and early that Sunday morning when I was gently awakened by my cousin blowing full force into a vuvuzela in the living room. Half an hour later I stumbled out of bed with a sweatshirt in hand since it was supposed to be raining later that day. As I followed my cousin out of the house into the 8am sunshine, “HOLY FUCK IT IS HOT OUT,” was the first thought that crossed my mind. The humidity was somewhere between swamp-ass and I think I’m walking in a European woman’s hairy armpit. By the time we got to the game in Chinatown’s Columbus Park it was so hot and humid I made one of the players’ girlfriends take her shirt off and sit in her bandeau so I wouldn’t look as creepy when I took off my shirt and tied a scarf around my chest to make a bikini top. Even then I was sweating like a whore in church. An analogy that wasn’t helped by the fact that a hundred old Chinese people doing tai chi and listening to mandolin music in the park were blatantly staring at the half naked jook sing who had no regard for a traditionally conservative culture. As the tournament progressed for 6 hours (!) the other half topless girl and myself couldn’t take the heat anymore and went through the park in search of a sprinkler. Dozens of benches of old Chinese people glaring later, we were beyond elated when we found a small sprinkler in the children’s playground. Now, imagine you’re one of the mothers taking your innocent little child to the park to cool off on a hot day. All of a sudden two nearly topless Asian girls, in short shorts start charging full speed at the fountain and start playfully splashing themselves and each other with the water. If you’re a 20 year old dude this is probably awesome. If you’re a 40 year old Chinese woman with small children, you probably grabbed your kids, pulled them out of the fountain and shielded their eyes.
We eventually reluctantly left the fountain to watch the last 2 hours of the game, and unfortunately our boys didn’t make it into the finals. Mostly because the ref could suck my proverbial sweaty balls since apparently if he doesn’t see the other team physically restrain the goalie while trying to take a shot, or doesn’t see other teams pushing people to the ground, even though people on other teams were protesting it, it didn’t happen. In order to rid our minds of the bullshit loss, we headed over to our favorite local bar for some pickle backs and food. Three shots and two beers later, I remembered I had to meet up with John at the South Street Seaport. Which clearly meant that the first logical move I could make when getting to the seaport was ordering a beer. Because, you know, being sweaty and drunk is the best way to meet someone for the first time and make a good impression.
Halfway through my beer, John and I find each other and despite being someone I met over the internet, I did not find myself being deceived and actually meeting with a 50 year old pervert instead of a normal 20 something year old dude. He on the other hand was meeting with a sweaty (and probably smelly, ew) little Asian girl whose face was indeterminably red either from drinking or too much sun. I make GREAT first impressions. John grabbed a beer as well, we reconvened with Mark, Aracely and Eric who had gone back to clean up after the game, and headed over to the Beekman Beergarden which for the record is a great go-t0 when entertaining out of town guests since it has an awesome view of the river and of the three downtown bridges. Plus because of job with Party Earth I knew a bit about the history of the Seaport in general and I was able to show off some knowledge of the area. After a beer I realized I was mildly really drunk and we went to meet up with a friend at another bar, and then decided to go to Mulberry Project, a cute little speakeasy in Chinatown/Little Italy. Somewhere between the beergarden, the bar and the cab to Chinatown I broke my flip-flop and decided the best decision was to walk partially barefoot through the city. Yes I was that girl walking shoeless through the city. Ew. I can only guess what John was thinking about what he had gotten himself into. Fortunately, coming quickly to my rescue, Eric somehow cut a hole in my shoe and reattached the middle part that had broken and voila! Good as new. Or at least good enough to keep me from catching every disease known to mankind via my barefoot strolling the city streets.
By the time we got to the speakeasy I had somehow procured and consumed a banana and was walking down the street unable to figure out what to do with the peel. I vaguely remember debating whether or not dropping it on the floor would be okay, but I feared that someone would step on it slip and comically fall like in the cartoons. I also believe I voiced these thoughts aloud. A few minutes later we sat down in a booth at Mulberry and ordered a pitcher of a gin, cucumber, watermelon drink. Come to think of it, I can’t remember going to the second bar, or getting to Mulberry but I remember exactly what we drank. Welcome to my one track mind.
At this point being the social media addict that I am I went to check in on 4sq and take a picture of the pitcher, when much to my dismay I realized, “Where’s my phone?!” After a frantic search through my bag and pockets we realized that I had lost it. Aracely recalled seeing it in my pocket, meaning it must have fallen out either at the bar or in the cab. Eric, once again to the rescue pulled out his phone and did some kind of iPhone tracking app and saw that my phone was on the Williamsburg Bridge, then in Brooklyn, then further in Brooklyn…and sent some kind of emergency text hoping that someone would be awesome and honest enough to return my phone. Ten minutes later, he gets a phone call and the cab driver tells him that he’s coming back into the city and that he would drop off my phone. I am seriously the luckiest person ever. Plus Eric was tracking the cab with the tracking app and the two of us bolted out of the speakeasy to find him. After walking in the wrong direction for a few minutes, we realized we had to turn around as the cab was quickly approaching the next street over. But first, I found it necessary to stop and argue over the price of buying 5 cherries, which a nice old Chinese man put in a bag for me as I gave him a dollar and started sprinting down the block in my revived flip flop. Somehow the resurrected flip flop held up, we found the cab, I gave the driver some money and we headed back to the bar phone in hand.
By the time we got back to the bar victoriously carrying my iPhone like the Olympic torch, Mark and Aracely had ordered some food and I proceeded to rub my fingers in the ridiculously delicious rosemary and parmesan fry topping, and shove fries in my face. Shortly after that John said he had to get back to Jersey. I can only vaguely grasp what his impression of the entire outing was, but I still made it a point to ask him to help verify me on couch surfer as he fled the bar. Because being sweaty and drunk, breaking your shoe, walking around barefoot, running around with a banana, losing your phone and running through the streets of Manhattan obviously equates go a glowing character recommendation.