Two Tales of a City- Pt. 18


Our first stop during our second day in New York City was the Lincoln Center where we toured the Metropolitan Opera House, Avery Fisher Hall, and the New York State Theater.  We were divided into three or four groups and assigned tour guides for the ninety-minute exploration.

Maggie, Elaine, and I tried to track down Abby and her posse as the group was being divvied up.  We were too late in finding her; she had been put into a group that was already considered full.  The three of us found a group still in need of a few people.  As luck had it, we were in the group with several of our busmates.

Our group was handed over to our tour guide, Maria.  Maria was an average and unassuming woman who appeared to be in her thirties.  The only distinctive thing about her was her thick Italian accent.  Maria came across as a very nice person as she introduced herself and went over the few rules for the tour.  Chief among these rules, based on her constant reiteration of said rule, was there was to be no photography once the tour started.  Naturally, it was the one rule I broke.

The way she described the no photography rule led me to believe it meant no photography was allowed inside any of the buildings.  We were still outside when Maria was in the middle of giving us a brief history of the Lincoln Center.  Since we were outside in a public area that had a few lone photographers snapping pictures I assumed an outdoor photo would be fine.  I stepped back from the group and got a shot of Maria as she scolded me for taking the shot.

Maria warned me against taking the shot and informed me that my camera could be confiscated by security and its memory could be erased.  I apologized for my indiscretion and put the lens cap back on the camera in her view.  She went back into her history story, all the while keeping her eye on me.

Maria took a few questions from the kids before we headed inside.  The one question she would not answer was her country of origin.  One of the kids noted Maria’s accent and inquired if she was from Italy.  Maria tersely explained that she could not and would not answer any questions of a personal nature.  She then herded us toward our first location.  Adam and a couple of his friends approached me during our walk.

“I didn’t figure you for a troublemaker,” he joked with me.

“Aaah, you’d be surprised,” I told him.  “I have to admit, though, that I figured you would be the first one to get yelled at.”

“Who? Me?” he asked with a surprised looked on his face.

“Yeah, you,” I answered.  “I know your type.  Let’s say you and I are… kindred spirits.”  Adam gave me an ornery grin and a nod.

During the short conversation I spotted one of our other groups still getting its introduction and history lesson.  I noticed a few kids taking pictures of the various buildings.  Their guide gave no indication of caring a whit about the overt photography taking place in her presence.

I started to wonder about Maria.  Her concern about the picture I took, her threat to erase it, and her refusal to answer such an innocent question about her obvious accent got me to thinking.  Her average appearance and unassuming nature coupled with her odd behavior could have led one to the conclusion that she might in fact be a foreign agent in deep cover.  Thankfully, I’m not that paranoid and brushed it off as a ridiculous thought.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The highlight of the tour for our group was the distinct possibility that we saw the famous TV and stage actor Neil Patrick Harris during a practice of a stage production.  From our distant vantage point the actors on stage were too small to distinguish.  For all we knew, it could have been Norman Phillip Howard instead.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

When the tours were finished, our group amassed as one on the W 65th St. side of the Lincoln Center for box lunches.  It was every bit as tantalizing as it sounds.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

GhostbusterHQThe changes in our schedule left us with a bit more than four hours to fill before our scheduled dinner at BB Kings.  Elise had been scrambling all morning trying to find something to fill our afternoon.  Considering the demographics of the group, her solution bordered on brilliance – a movie and television tour of Manhattan.

Starting in Midtown and working our way to Lower Manhattan, we went on a tour that took us past several locations that had been used in movies and television shows.  We passed the Flatiron Building, which was the Daily Bugle in Spider-Man, Tiffany’s from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Hook and Ladder Company 8 Firehouse that served as the Ghostbusters’ headquarters.  Along the way the guide pointed out several other locations from movies or TV shows that were more popular with the kids. Several times the mention of a title or an actor or actress elicited oohs and aahs along with faces pressed against windows.  I’d look at the dad sitting next to me and we’d shake our heads.


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