Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Oklahoma!

In the words of the owner of Hotel Webber in New York, nobody wants to read a 'then I did that, and then I saw this, and then I ate there' email or blog. So I guess he'd better skip to about halfway down this entry then...

So first things first. I flew into New York on American Airlines, and sat next to a cute British girl who turned out to have yiddische roots, and was on her way to spend 10 days working on a theatre project on 42nd Street.

We had a long chat and shared a cab into Manhattan - it was her first visit, and it's always wonderful to see the huge, childlike grin spreading on someone's face as the cab comes over the brow of the hill on the Queens-Midtown Expressway and that panorama suddenly unfolds before them.

And then we swapped numbers with a view to discussing some consulting work for a project in London, and I headed up to Doree's Broadway Bordello. Perhaps some of you have seen the ad for Yellow Pages where the guy brings a girl back to his flat and she screeches that the place has been robbed. He says "er, yes, I'd better call the police" and picks up the directory to search for cleaners...

After meeting the Madame of the establishment and her tousle-haired new bloke, with whom I swapped some saucy jokes and explained that the "nice musky perfume" I was wearing was actually the latest Eau de Boeing, he left and I went for a stroll with Madame in the park.

Later on, we went to a Yom HaZikaron commemoration (a bit downbeat but very moving), then the next morning I spring-cleaned her kitchen from top to bottom. This isn't a euphemism. The place was so skanky even the roaches were wrinkling their noses and scuttling next door for sustenance. I finally had a clean cup of tea without contracting gastro-enteritis, then headed out to Mid-town to see a very old friend for an iced mochaccino.

And then I walked all the way down 5th Ave from about 50th to Bowery and Grand, which is a VERY long walk, to join the aforementioned hotelier and madame for a Yom Ha'atzmaut extravaganza at the very chi-chi Capitale. Several large vodka-tonics later, I crawled back to the bordello, too far gone to even throw a shoe at the rat scuttling from under my bed as I flopped onto it.

The next morning, off to Oklahoma City via Dallas. With very bad weather forecast for Texas, I asked the folks at American Airlines to reroute me through Chicago to avoid major delays. I was told not to worry, nothing serious was forecast. Apparently "nothing serious" is an airline term for weather patterns so severe that Dallas-Fort Worth was completely shut to inbound traffic, forcing us to circle until we started running short of fuel, then dumping us on the tarmac in Shreveport, Louisiana for 4 hours.

After this hiccup, I picked up my hire car ("sorry sir, we're out of mid-size but would you like this 2-tonne 6 litre deluxe Pontiac Tank instead?"), and cruised down to the Super 8 Motel in Norman, Oklahoma. I had been forewarned by my travelling companions that the hotel was perhaps not as described by Orbitz in sending me there (swimming pool in an atrium that doubled as the lobby and entrance to the bedrooms, which were accordingly filled with recycled, humid, chlorinated air). One online reviewer pithily filled his comments box with the single word "snakes!" - this seemed quite apt, and hence I renamed the establishment Super Snake.

So, other than the work-related boring bits, what on earth did I get up to in Norman, Oklahoma? Firstly I gorged myself on ample portions of everything, as is the South-Western Way. Secondly I did what any self-respecting boy from NW London would do, and got talking to as many gorgeous local girls as possible.

On the first of our two nights out, I met and had my arse pinched by a pole-dancer on her evening off. On the second, I met and fell in love with a group of half a dozen sorority girls at OU.

Sadly they were all either "married to Jesus" or otherwise hooked up with local menfolk, alternative semi-deities or work commitments, but it was refreshing to meet such a lovely gaggle of smart, sophisticated, opinionated, confident, open, pleasant folk - quite the opposite of our frequent stereotype of the American Interior.

Also I found some time to appear on KWCO Radio (105.5, y'all), having met the wonderfully-named DJ Cody Sparks at the same time as having my chuddies cuddled by the dancer, and request All You Need Is Love as a tribute to the first British venturers to make it to Norman since the Great Gusher of 1898. Or so I thought, until I sat behind another Londoner on the plane out.

The return journey to New York was once again marred by American Airlines' refusal to let me fly via Chicago when I asked them to switch me as soon as they announced a "slight technical fault" on our Dallas-bound flight. They insisted it was a minor hitch that would be fixed soon. 3 hours and one plane taken totally out of service later, they routed me via Chicago, then lost my bags for a day and a half. Very unimpressive.

And then I was back in New York, staying at the Hotel Webber. I spent the time strolling in Central Park, eating far too well, and catching up with 2 dudes I met on the beach in Tel Aviv last year. OK, they were attracted by my companion Man-Vortex rather than by my amazing toned and tanned physique, but we stayed in touch.

The trip ended on an awesome high with the consumption of a plate of steak tartare and a stunning 10oz rib-eye at Le Marais, before blagging an upgrade on my flight home as recompense for the inconvenience caused by AA on my journey to that point.

Not much else to add except to concur with Mr Webber that long "and then I..." recollections of recent events are bloody tedious. I have fallen asleep at the keyboard 3 times writing this, so thanks for getting this far.

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