The sleeping on the streets of NYC isn't that interesting of a story, but it sounds cool to say I've done it. I had a couple people want to know why on this blessed earth I would choose to do such a thing--including my mother who I only told after the fact. There was no way I was going to tell her before and have her make me promise not to do it!
The summer after high school graduation I decided to go with my drama club, the Clear Brook High School Roustabouts, to New York City. We were going to see the sights, experience the shows, and shop in the cool vintage stores! All without adult supervision. Just kidding. I think one or two parents came, but did very little supervising actually. And then there was our theater teacher, Mr. D. He was creepy. Turns out, he was taking money from the theater department and was fired a couple years after I graduated. He was also gay, but that's not a big surprise there, is it? Anyway, there are a ton of Mr. D. stories I could share, but since I don't want to be sued, I won't share those.
Right off I knew I was going to love it there. We were staying at the Double Tree Hotel and Suites where they give you a FREE Otis Spunkmeyer cookie when you check in. Hello! Free delicious cookie upon arrival! Nothing says welcome to our not-so-humble abode like a fresh, warm, chocolately cookie. The lobby was the fanciest lobby I've ever seen with a huge chandallier and whopping ginormous vases with fancy patterns painted on them. The suites were posh with a living room and a bedroom, a large bathroom, and bigscreen TV. The bed pillows were big and soft and nearly as soon as our luggage was in our rooms, we grabbed the pillows and blankets off the beds and as inconspiquously as possible took them out of the hotel by way of the check in desk.
Why would we take our oh-so-comfy bedding out of the nicest hotel any of us had ever stepped foot in and head out for the streets? One word: RENT
Back in the day, if you stayed in line 24 hours before the show started you could get front or second row tickets for $15 instead of the expensive crappy seat tickets. Since we'd obviously blown all our money on the hotel we weren't going to be staying at, we needed the price break.
We lined up at the ticket counter (there were already like 5 people there in front of us) and dropped the hotel's blankets and pillows on the dirty sidewalk. We waited in line all day, just playing games, talking, eating, listening to music (mostly the soundtrack to RENT because we were freaks like that, but the technical term is "Rent Head"). We took turns going to the bathroom and eating. No one was allowed to just go shop or go sightseeing. That would be breaking the "rules."
That night we didn't think much about our safety. We figured there was a huge group of us by that time (somewhere around fifty people hoping to get these coveted tickets) and one of the other people there told us that the cops usually patrolled the area, knowing that we'd be sleeping on the street.
Our adventures are as follows. . . .
A fake Deaf guy tried to con us into buying keychains with the sign language alphabet on it. He tapped us on our shoulders to get our attention and then thrust the keychains at us, insisting we take one. Since he wasn't talking, we didn't know what he wanted from us. Eventually we caught on that he wanted money inexchange for the crappy keychain.
and . . .
A drunk smelly man came up to a girl in our group, patted her head, and called her princess.
At this time the cops showed up and took the smelly drunk man away. The cops let us sit in the back of their car (I didn't really want to, so I stayed on my little patch of sidewalk where I was more comfortable).
That was it. The next day at 5 PM they handed out the tickets and we went back to our hotel to shower and change for the show! It was my first Broadway show and it was a lot of fun. After that we all kind of went our separate ways and did whatever we wanted. Me and one guy went to A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum with Whoopie Goldberg guesting Nathan Lane's part and I also went vintage shopping and bought 4 unopened Beatles records, a great pair of shoes that I still wear, and a hippie dress which I usually don at Halloween. One other group thing we did that I just remembered was we went to Blue Man Group. This was the single coolest thing I've ever seen. They were off-off Broadway when we went to see them, so tickets were like $10, not $200. Ok, remember the girl who's head got patted by the drunk guy? During the Blue Man Group show, one of them came up to her, took her gum out of her mouth, chewed it himself, and then put it back in her mouth. Creepy! But so funny to watch! Best dang show I've ever seen. They played Chubby Bunny and when the guy finished catching all the marshmellows he spit them out and I promise, it was in the shape of the Statue of Liberty. Pinkie swear, it was!