Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home.

~ Bill Cosby ~

Happy Brooklyn Holidays

September 9th, 2011 ~ Est. reading time: 3 mins, 4 secs

The original happy Christmas couple… in Brooklyn

Do fairytales begin in Brooklyn?

Why Brooklyn?

Don’t ask!

Okay, I’ll tell you.

Looking for accommodation in Manhattan looked like it was going to need a home loan to fund. Which is why we started looking at the map and working out how far, which way, and where. Then the travel guide (never trust those things) painted a picture anybody far away on the edge of the Earth would be inspired by.

So when the blizzard came we to New York City we were probably the only ones happy. It was Christmas – or close enough – so it was amazing to be seeing it in snow.

Weird as it seems, our Christmas falls in summer in Australia. So it’s a time of happy, summery fun. Bells and squeals as kids ride their new bikes on the street, whilst the smell of barbecues sizzling steaks and seafood wafts through every window. Christmas Downunder is a weird mix of traditions, beach, and happy, sunny fun.

So Christmas snow was a fairytale for us. And, like all fairytales, there’s the magical images and then there’s the wonder.

We were kind of big on the wondering and not so much on the magic by the time our Ethiopian cab driver found the right place.

Brooklyn?” he asked, stowed our bags, as the snow kept falling in front of La Guardia’s honking taxi rank.

You wanna go to Brooklyn? You sure about dat?”

By the time the cab driver got the right directions by yelling across to another driver at the lights

“Hey Bud? You know where Alice Street is? No man, the street,” we were past caring.

Being cold, late, and head-droppingly tired from travelling even a garden shed would have been great. So when we got to our apartment, tucked high inside an old brownstone building, we were happy. We’d made it.

But once inside, little realities started setting in. In fact you could say our happy slice of Brooklyn had more surprises than a Swiss army knife. We thought the steps teetering steeply sideways were quaint at first. Until I let go of the handrail. Then fell to the bottom on my bottom; crumpled beneath two suitcases. But we’re made of sterner stuff. Besides, bruises heal.

But the happy fairytale feel was getting a bit too weird when snow began settling on me inside the bathroom. Above, a skylight that wouldn’t quite shut let snowflake flurries fall around the room. Given time, this bathroom could claim to have it’s own snowdrift.

Mind you, that was kind of cute. But the non-vented bathroom at the stairs wasn’t. Nor was the blocked bathtub and clogged toilet. Let me set this straight. There is nothing even slightly endearing about plunging plumbing when you’re travelling. For obvious reasons, this unvented chamber of horrors became a definite no go zone.

Though it was a bit unsettling seeing the bullet holes in the grimy windows of the local Chinese takeout. Complete with steel serving slot  (to reduce robberies), it certainly had grunge appeal. But  we didn’t realize we were staying on the edge of a slum.

Give me my ‘damn’ cigarettes! I said, give me my damn cigarettes!”

Standing right in the middle of a busy street, a woman was wrestling her son to the road, trying to get her smokes back. All around were paint-thirsty dilapidated buildings, tattered hoardings, and suspicious faces, wondering what on earth we were doing in the ‘hood. All was in keeping with the gunshots at night and droning wail of sirens (well it was Christmas).

But I am happy to say that was all part of the adventure for us. The feature that stunned us most was the terror that came in the night. As we drifted toward sleep, a weird gasping sound filled our bedroom. Scraping, rat like, and panting like a gasping asthmatic, it intensified into a whistling, shrieking crescendo. Shocked confusion stole our sleep and we sprang bolt upright in bed. What was this monster?

Releasing a malevolent hiss, the terror paused before wildly clanking its way through the walls, floor, and seemingly our teeth. Then it finally dawned.

Don’t worry dear,” I reassured. “It’s just Brooklyn’s finest central heating.”

Aaaahhhhh! The plumbing released a mighty sigh, as if it had done something momentous.

Pulling up the bedding, I whispered, “Happy Holidays. Happy, Brooklyn holidays…”

Funny Ways To Go

How Come “Happy” Can Drive You Crazy?

Strange But Happy Holidays


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