New York day 2 - Auntie Helen and The Lion King

Alysha vows to be up by 6:30.  We don’t get up til 9:30 which technically is 6:30 if we’re in Seattle.  It is raining as we rush out the door headed for Chinatown.  We get on the right subway make the right connection, then start the six block trek from Canal street to 27 Sunshine dim sum restaurant.  For two blocks little Chinese women come running up to us saying “honbo” in their sing song voices.  The first woman gets my puzzled look until I realize, they want us to buy the knock off handbags from the little shops that line the street.  The rain picks up so we raise our umbrellas.  Suddenly, it begins to pour and big gusts of wind kick up around us.  People are trying to fight it and I watch as umbrella after umbrella wooshes inside out.

When we were kids, my sister Debbie and I used to pretend we were Mary Poppins.  We would get the biggest umbrellas we had, run over to the boulders in the empty lot and jump off them pretending to fly.  I had dreams of jumping off the roof to get better momentum, but luckily in reality nothing ever came of that.

One thing I’ve noticed about New Yorkers, or the New York tourists, is that they treat the sidewalk like it is a giant garbage can.  As we walk toward the restaurant I see probably half a dozen inside out discarded umbrellas tossed aside with disdain by their wretched sodden owners.  We arrive at the restaurant and Aunt Helen is already there.  She has on a jaunty blue wool Parisian cap over her shiny black page boy cut hair.  And a floor length beige rain coat that she is taking off uncovering an elegant black sweater over jeans and adidas.

There were eleven children in my mother’s family.  Helen was the eldest born in 1924.  She looks at us then looks away.  I rush over to give her a hug and she says.  Oh, I wasn’t sure that was you.  You look like your daughter’s sister.  I love Auntie Helen.  She looks amazing and if my blog ever gets fixed I’ll upload a picture of her.   My mother’s family was a very handsome one.  Everyone agrees, Auntie Helen was the most beautiful.    She looked like a Chinese Sophia Loren with a size 2 body.  At 86, she is still gorgeous.   We eat dim sum and I order a rice noodle dish that comes in a covered bowl (I’m going to buy one of those.  Who cares if I don't cook.  I can get take out then put it in my lovely covered bowl).  Everything is delicious.   I ask why she moved to New York from Chicago.  She says, she fell in love with a man and followed him there. But then she decided he was not right for her so they broke up.  But she stayed in New York because of the people she had met.  They went skiing, to parties and had a tight social circle.

I just happen to see that there is a phone message and it is the concierge from the hotel.  We are going to see the Lion King and instead of being at 2, it is at 1.  Geez golly.  We quickly fight over the meal ticket – I almost have to tackle her (don’t think I won’t now), get it and pay.  We rush out the door.  Actually here’s what happens.  Alysha walks really fast.  I almost have to skip to keep up with her.  Auntie Helen brings up the rear.  It’s the only way we can tell she isn’t 60.  The last time I saw her was when I was with Debbie.  She was in her 70s and we laughed because we literally had to run after her.  Now, she moves slowly.   We splash our way to the subway and get to Broadway.  Enter the theater with 15 minutes to spare.

Alysha snaps a photo and an usher in her white shirt and black vest comes bearing down on her.  Red frizzled hair, black glasses covering grim eyes.   Think Gilda Radner’s  Roseanne Roseannadanna without an ounce of a sense of humor.  She shouts at Alysha from about 10 feet away – threatening her for taking a photo.  Alysha prettily apologizes since she didn’t know.   Ms. Frizzle glares a bit more then stomps away.    Most of the people we have encountered who are not tourists, are kind and polite.  But there are a disproportionate number who are brash and rude.  I suppose it is a reaction to dealing with the masses of demanding and/or clueless people who are herded around the city.   Alysha doesn’t let Mrs. Frizzle bother her.  We decide to look at her in an anthropological sort of way.

The lights dim, and the theater is filled with the heavenly opening song and visual magic that is the Lion King.  It is enchanting, funny, moving and glorious.   The perfect way to spend a wet blustery New York day.   Aunt Helen has lived in New York since her mid 20s.  Yet she never went to a Broadway show until today.  In fact, she hadn’t been to Times Square in over a decade.  I’m thinking she must be exhausted after the day of rushing around with us but no.  We head back into Times Square and Alysha floats into a clothing store.  Auntie Helen walks through that store, and the next one then returns to gaze over the square one more time before finally admitting, it is time for her to go home.  We hug and kiss.  I’m so glad we were able to see you, I say.  Do you want me to walk with you to the subway.  Oh no she says.  And I watch as she turns and walks away, the crush of people quickly covering her from my sight.