Before I get too deep into my stint in New York, I wanted to relay my unusual experience getting here.
I flew Porter Air – which is a somewhat new Canadian airline that is unique in that its the only airline to fly out of Toronto’s Island airport and that it uses Bombardier Turboprop propeller planes. I arrived on the island – via a ferry, and found myself in a huge, exclusive-to-Porter lounge, complete with access to fridges full of free food and drinks, and iMacs set up everywhere for free internet. The airline encourages socializing amongst fellow fliers, and the flight attendants dress up in retro uniforms. And its pretty cheap.
So because of all this pre-flight hype, I kinda found myself with unreasonable fantasies about the flight itself. Toronto to New York at 8:30pm… I pictured a party plane, complete with various fun people ready to get a jump start on their weekend in New York. The fantasies were briefly entertained when this super cute queer-looking boy boarded beside me. But then he went to the back, I went to the front, and was soon joined by a sextet of very straight country boys.
When I was trying to jam my oversized carryon into the overhead – unsuccessfully – one of the country boys said to me “Good luck, buddy,” and then another followed him up: “Don’t worry, I’ve got bigger things into smaller holes.” Ew. There were 2 seats on each side of the small plane, and the country boys filled two rows on one side, and one seat each on the other. The two unfortunate fliers in the window seats beside them were myself and a tiny little old lady who did her best to not look scared and/or annoyed. Twice before we took off, one of the boys joked to the flight attendant “Can I get my beer now? I haven’t had one in 45 minutes.” They also all did the token poke their heads into the aisle as she walked away from them, then whispering skeezy comments about her ass. Sadly, the flight attendant – who I watched notice their head poke – was eating it up.
Right before take off, I made the very wise decision to move up 2 rows, giving the little old lady a look of sincere empathy as I did it. And up until mid-flight – when the boys, for reasons I don’t understand, all moved up two rows too – I had a lovely experience. I was sitting right next to the propeller, which normally would scare me, but somehow was sorta soothing. This is a not so great pic of the propeller and Toronto’s skyline as we were taking off:
Anyway, the rest of the story of me & the boys gets pretty repetitive. Dick and fart jokes mixed with some classic chauvinism. Thank god there was a 2 beer maximum, though, or maybe it wouldn’t have been.
When the flight landed in Newark an hour later, I went through customs without much issue and had a cigarette outside. There was the queer-looking boy again, also smoking. And wondering how I was getting into the city. I told him a cab, and within seconds one of those lurking, not-quite-a-cab-driver dudes popped up and asked us to follow him. I realize this is not something you’re supposed to ever do, but he gave us a good deal ($60 for both of us to go to different places in Manhattan), and I saw him talking – nicely – to an official airport guy minutes before. And I was with someone, so what could he really do.
I quickly learned what he could really do was talk. He kept telling me I had to go to this bar in the East Village. Then joking I would never get in “because you look 12”. Then asking me if I smoked “the hookah” and that they had a lot of it there. Then again telling me I look 12. Then suggesting I could “get two ladies at once” if I went. Then telling me that would never actually happen because I look 12. Unfortunately, the other passenger seemed more interested in the two ladies aspect than I hoped for.
Other topics of conversation included “why do women always try to sleep with police men” and “why does everyone look so paranoid these days?” and “I don’t understand why people watch Oprah.”
The other passenger at one point mentioned he doesn’t ever take cabs and usually bikes, which is when the cab ride had its classic moment. Then not-quite-a-cab-driver responded by saying “soon it would be too cold to bike” to which me and the other passenger – in perfect unison – responded “you’ve never lived in Montreal.” It turns out other passenger just graduated from the Masters program at McGill – the better-known, more respected Anglo university to my Concordia University – in the exact same discipline. AND was currently embarking on his own hobo tour post graduation. AND that we had all these mutual friends. I’m a big fan of such small world moments.
Anyway, I made it to Manhattan and the not-quite-a-cab-driver didn’t rape me or steal my money, so it all ended well. And now I’m 2 days into my stint as not-quite-a-New Yorker.