Friday night: We drive down to Staten Island, taking the long way around across the Tappan Zee, down I-95, and only then back East into New York. We crossed the Goethais Bridge, a terrifyingly narrow bridge over the Arthur Kill and got to rosinavs' cousin's house around 11:00.
Amy gave us a tour of the house, and took us down to the guest room in the basement. We passed through the den, decorated with their little boy's toys when I noticed something out of place. In between the Batman: Brave and the Bold Batcave, the Earth's Mightiest Heroes Helicarrier, and the Power Rangers Super Samurai Megazord, there was a tiny, beautiful red metal truck with a grey trailer and a big blue swoosh.
"That cannot possibly have been bought for your son," I said, picking up and verifying the authenticity of the vintage 1984 Optimus Prime, and then she showed me the bookcases in the corner, filled with DVDs on the lower shelves, and, on the upper shelves, Autobots on one side and Decepticons on the other. Standing tall amongst his comrades was the stoic grey, red, and beige Omega Supreme and I could not contain my excitement. "I've never played with Omega Supreme before!"
I had been rather worried about meeting her husband, he's a Pastor with the more Conservative branch of the Lutheran Church - and went to Seminary at their more Conservative school - but now I knew he and I at least had something to talk about. The four of us continued chatting until around 2:00 AM when it became imminently clear that we had to go to bed in order to be rested enough for Crown.
I awoke to the excited squealing of children, the niece and nephew playing with their toys. After getting dressed, I spent some time reading a 3D book with rosinavs' nephew and getting shot by his Power Ranger pistol while watching My Little Pony and chatting about our favorite ponies.
Then we went down to the Boy Scout Camp in the center of the Island to watch some men and women hit each other with sticks for a few hours. Each combatant was fighting for their own victory and for that of their Consort - we have a long tradition of having co-rulers and it works out very well when illness, distance, or wars in Mesopotamia get in the way of our hobby. This was the first Crown in the East since the Board of Directors lifted the ban on Same-Sex Consorts, and though there's still quite a bit of grumbling about their choice of language in the current rules, that did not stop Tiberiv Ivlivs Rvfvs from fighting for his husband.
The fighting field was uneven and full of holes, and several combatants withdrew due to injury. The Boy Scouts would wander by and we'd chat them up about what it is we do and how it works, and they would cheer for whoever was fighting in front of them, and were quite impressed with the female Knight who advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. The sun was shining and the breeze was blowing, and there were gyros for all. In the end, somebody won, and he and his lady were very well liked last time they were on the throne, so there was much cheering.
Back at the cousins', we had dinner and ice cream, played with the toys, and chatted about stuff and things.
I had never driven in NYC before, and had been repeatedly told about how awful it was. While traffic was light, there were certainly some ruthlessly terrible drivers, including one man in a convertible who signaled left with his hand and then turned right. There were cyclists who completely ignored all rules of traffic and decency, taxis that defied the laws of physics, and pedestrians who very clearly thought about standing in the crosswalk just to make you miss your light.
We successfully made it to the Met's (not to be confused with the Mets') parking garage, and strolled down 81st to Alice's Tea Cup, whose website is awful (as required by law), but whose food is divine. I highly recommend ordering the Jabberwocky, as while it may be rude to stuff yourself with dainties and scones, it's much more relaxing to know you're entitled to order as many cucumber and watercress sandwiches as you like. Eat dessert first, though, since the chocolate mousse is clearly from some sort of wonder land.
The Met was huge and gorgeous, and just difficult enough to navigate that I was glad we each had our own map. We saw Faberge Eggs and Art Noveau Furniture, porphyry, entire rooms that had been transported from fin de secle French Hotels and Medieval monasteries, and galleries full of medieval arms and armor, codices, Frankish jewelry, and musical intruments. I had a little too much fun singing the breakdown of Ode to Joy while looking at the Turkish marching band instruments, and we had to move quickly to get to the Impressionists.
We were wowed by room upon room of Monet, Cezanne, and Renoir. Then I saw it. A moody blue canvas with some whitish blobs on it - The Blind Man's Meal. And beside it, Portrait of Gertrude Stein. We had seen a cubist Picasso in one of the halls with traveling exhibits, but these two have always been among my favorites. Around this time, the museum closed, and we filed out with the other patrons - the staff amusingly telling people to slow down.
The roads home were clear enough, though Google decided at the last minute to route us up into Yonkers instead of across the Bronx like it had been telling us to do all month. Rein's Deli completed the adventure, and we even had enough energy to schlep our stuff into the house before bed.