A few months ago I visited some family in New York and had a blast! Cousins Brunch, Family Pictures, New York City with my sisters and some cousins, it was just an all around good time but it always is when my family gets together. Before I tell you a story about something called “Sleep No More” let me tell you a few other highlights from my trip….
So every time I visit New York, where my mother was born and raised and most of my relatives live, I try to get together with my 27 cousins from my mom’s side. We usually just do a cousins brunch and invite everyone. Now that we’re all mostly grown up “cousins brunch” has grown to include children, husbands, boyfriends and the like. Now some of us are closer then others, not because of any bad blood or hurt feelings but because we grew up together or are closer in age, that kind of thing. So previously before the meetup I was texting one of my older cousins who I haven’t seen in at least ten years and who’s never met my husband, letting her know about the meetup and that my husband who wasn’t coming to NY wouldn’t be at the brunch. On the morning of the brunch I arrived with my two sisters, niece and nephew, and two cousins who’s house we had slept at the night before. We walked in and a few people were already there, my older cousin who I hadn’t seen in years being one of them. After greetings of hugs and “It’s been forever!”‘s my older cousin says to me…
Her “I thought he wasn’t coming?”
Her “I thought you said he wasn’t going to be here?”
She points to my cousin James standing next to me. I think to myself, “I never said James wasn’t coming, what is she talking about?!”.
It takes me a half a second longer to realize she’s referring to our previous text conversation when I told her my husband wasn’t going to be there.
Then it dawns on me….she thinks HE”S my husband. But wait she’s met James before and he’s her cousin too!!
I looked at her appalled and simply stated….”Uh that’s James…he’s your cousin too.” I suppose my husband and James both have black hair but other than that they don’t really look the same at all.
Then I laughed for days about how ridiculous this all was.
I had a salad (I know you were wondering if I ordered breakfast or lunch or did a combo).
The day I went with my two sisters and my two cousins to The City (this is what us Long Islanders call New York City, get with the program) we wanted to take a taxi to this book store my cousin wanted to take us too. Now one thing to note is that when taking a taxi in NYC they all only seat four people unless you can track down one of those enormous van taxis, and we were five people. Sometimes you can convince a taxi to allow five if you pay them extra or if they’re just nice. So we decided to just start walking the general direction that we needed to go and hoped to happen upon a taxi along the way.
The cousin that was taking us to the book store works in The City so she’s really familiar with the whole taxi process and takes it upon herself to be the one trying to hail a taxi that would take five.
She asked a few and got denied but the rest of us didn’t mind, we were just continuing on our way hanging out enjoying the day strolling through the city.
Then out of the blue my cousin starts just trying to hail any old random car driving by, we all turn around and she’s leaning over into an all black unmarked bulletproof looking car making negotiations with the driver. My jaw drops, what is she doing!! That’s not even close to a taxi! There’s no way I’m letting her sell my body into some kind of sex trade, I’m not willingly getting into the mafias pimp ride.
My other cousin, her brother, takes one look at her taking to the driver and starts yelling at her.
Him “Analiza, get over here!”
Her: Still talking to the driver she barely glances over her shoulder “One second”
He walks over to the car and tells the driver “No thanks”
She turns to look at her brother, “What?”
Him “Were not getting in this car”
Her: Turns to look at all of us “You guys don’t want to go?”
Everyone in unison “Uh no” “Not in that random car” Not a chance!” “Nope”
Her “Guys it’s fine!”
We all turn and walk away from her and continue our stroll toward the book store.
Now it’s her turn to look baffled. Apparently to a seasoned New Yorker getting into random unmarked black cars is the norm. Not for us that day thought.
A few minutes later before we can even finish making fun of her for thinking any of us was going to go through with that, James hails a cab that will take the five of us.
We made Analiza sit up front with the driver in every taxi we rode for the rest of the day and us four squished into the back, we figured she deserved it after nearly killing us.
P.S. The book store was totally worth it.
A disclaimer :
Every other blog post I’ve written has had the names omitted to protect the guilty, this one will not.
That is all.
Sleep No More NYC
Sleep No More NYC is an interactive play. A rendition of Shakespeare’s Macbeth performed in an old abandoned hotel in NYC. You will be wearing a mask…. that is all the information I had before my experience and that is all you get. Enjoy your show.
Me: Me (26)
Cassandra: My Older Sister (27)
Samantha: My Younger Sister (19)
Analiza: Cousin (AKA Death Cab) (24)
James: Cousin (Analiza and James are brother and sister) (22)
The five of us are standing outside of an abandoned hotel. The guy who gives you a paper bracelet with permission to drink or marks the back of your hand with the dreaded permanent markered black “X” has just given us four bracelets and defaced Samantha’s right hand for the evening and gone on his merry way.
We only stand there for a few minutes before we’re ushered into the pitch black entrance of the hotel. It’s all dark except for a few lights illuminating the general direction we’re supposed to be travelling. Coat check takes all of your belongings and warns you cell phones are forbidden to be used inside.
I hang onto mine anyway.
After coat check we check in at the little booth at the end of the hallway where they have each person individually pick a card from a face down deck of cards. The lady didn’t tell us what to do next or what the cards were for she simply said “Enjoy!” and started helping the people behind us.
Now the whole place is dark and I mean, pitch black dark. There were other people there too but it felt like just the five of us. We make our way up the flight of stairs and through the winding hallway toward the sound of music, all holding hands. I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be scary, like some kind of haunted house play, or was a guy with a chainsaw around the corner ready to jump out at us…..?
Light floods into my vision as we reach our destination. A 1940’s bar. It’s all 40’s music, slicked back hair and smoke. I love it.
The band’s song comes to an end and a soft round of applause floods the room.
A suited man makes his way to the huge microphone at center stage to address the audience in his sultry voice.
Man: Welcome all to the McKittrick Hotel. The card you were handed upon your arrival is your ticket.
We all look at each other slightly alarmed.
Man: If you find yourself holding an Ace, please take the door to your left and enjoy.
His voice trails off in the background as we all check our cards. James and Cassandra have Ace’s. Analiza and I have 2’s. Samantha has a 3.
James: Looking at Cassandra “I guess that’s us.”
Me: How are we going to find you?
Cassandra: We won’t go far into it, we get to go at our own pace anyway so well just stay near the beginning and wait for you guys.
Me: Okay. Good luck!
They nervously make their way through the smoke toward the small herd of people gathering near the front.
Analiza: I need a drink.
The three of us walk over to the bar where Analiza orders their special. A foamy green drink that tastes like black licorice. Gross.
Me: That looks terrible.
Analiza: Taking a sip “It really is.”
We stand around for a few more minutes taking in the scene. Looking around the room their are obvious “actors” playing their roles scattered throughout the bar, decked out in their 40’s hair and makeup. Never breaking character.
The man with the smooth voice starts announcing that people with a “2” card or earlier can make their way to the front.
Analiza and I decide to wait for the “3’s” to be called this way the remaining three of us can enter together.
It doesn’t take long for us to be called. Samantha, Analiza and I make our way over to the herd of people gathering to be ushered into a small dark room with 20 something other frightened people. Our cards are hole punched, we’re handed masks and instructed to put them on.
Mr. Sultry Voice himself follows us into the room, closing the door behind him which effectively shuts out all the bar sounds and any soft light that might have been illuminating the tiny space we’re now occupying. He wanders in between all the people making eye contact through our masks as he tell us the rules. In the dark we find each others hands.
Man: No talking….no photos……no phones. Feel free to explore…..follow…..watch…..touch. Curiosity shall be rewarded…… You must remain masked at all times…
He’s so serious and it’s so dark it’s easy to feel like you’ve wandered into a horror film and the only way out is to follow this man into the elevator he’s just called to take us away.
We file in single file and since the three of us we’re standing at the back of the little room we end up being at the front of the elevator by the door.
I can’t tell if the elevator is going up or down or sideways. I’m in a trance listening to this man tell us about being brave and how they want everyone to explore on their own. Don’t be afraid he says.
The elevator comes to a stop and the man gives us one last farewell…
Man: Remember curiosity shall be rewarded above all things.
He releases the door and we all gather our wits to walk out into the unknown. The guy standing right next to me is the first one to tentatively make his way over the threshold, gripping my cousins hand I go to follow him but Mr. Sultry Voice puts his arm in front of me blocking my way.
He quickly shuts the elevator door and presses the button for us to go up, a wicked grin playing across his face…
Man: The best experience is the one done on your own.
As the door closed I saw the poor guy who’s now on his own turn around appalled at the closing elevator door, fear in his eyes peering back at me, mask to mask.
I can’t see it because we’re all wearing masks but I know my jaw isn’t the only one’s who’s dropped. My fear of the unknown has now turned into being the next victim in this elevator game of wits.
End of part one….part two coming soon.