Off to Queens

30 10 2009

After close to a week of sharing the Gramercy apartment, Barry broke the news to me.

I had to go.

Seems a friend of the owner was due to drop by and, come to find out, I was a big secret.

This friend would surely squeal to the owner that Barry had another person living with him and that would violate their house-swapping agreement.

So I looked for other accommodations. Through Couchsurfing, I was offered a spot in Queens, by an artist, whose work reminded me of an old friend back in Panama City.

It would be my first real foray into this borough, sans La Guardia. Queens was definitely not Manhattan or Brooklyn for that matter. I’d be returning to the Greyhound crowd and that was just fine with me. It sure beat the streets.

My host, Shaun the artist, was younger than Barry and had a good 10 years on me. We got along well. Having spent some time in the military, Shaun enjoyed my Southern style, but he was not a real happy camper.

Currently unemployed, Shaun spent most of his days surfing the internet and watching ‘Family Guy’ episodes on his computer. He got a check from the government which helped him pay his rent and buy some groceries.

The rest of the money he spent on drugs, booze and Puerto Rican hookers.

Shaun lived in the Long Island City neighborhood, which had a unique claim to fame as being the most diverse section of NYC.

“They did a census here a few months back,” Shaun explained as we walked the neighborhood. “And they couldn’t come up with any ethnic majority.”

Our walk together told the story. Long Island City was indeed a melting pot with shops and restaurants catering to all kinds — Chinese, Mexican, Czech, Irish, Venezuelan, Greek, you name it. And for a long lost American, there was always McDonald’s.

One day, when it did not rain, Shaun and I took the bus out to Jacob Riis Park.


I took some pictures of Shaun laying on the beach so he could post on his Couchsurfing profile. He liked the idea of couchsurfing and was planning to do some traveling abroad.

Being from Florida, the beach is not really that big a deal to me. We are spoiled in Florida with beautiful beaches. In Panama City, in particular, the sugary soft sand and aqua blue water made Jacob Riis Park look like a scene out of Mad Max’s ‘Thunderdome.’

Still, it was cool to watch the big jets fly in for their landings and, occasionally some buff dude in a speedo would stroll by and smile.

“So tell me again, why are you here?,” Shaun asked.

I explained to Shaun that I was looking for the big break in the big city.

“Good luck, so is everyone else,” he snarkily replied.

Almost on cue, I received a text from Omar during our bus ride home. He informed me that my time for busing tables at the bistro had arrived.

It would be another first for me.

“See you in the morning,” Omar texted.




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