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Cold wintry days like today remind me of the bitter February when my DH and I were in Manhattan. It was the end of a trip that had begun in Pennsylvania and ended with three quick days in the Big City. We made the most of the time though, eating a fresh seafood lunch at Grand Central Station, shopping at the Macy’s, attending a business appointment in one of the historic buildings, a fast ascent to the top of the Empire State Building (no lines because of the cold), and seeing a Broadway show.

Toys R UsWe walked from our hotel everywhere—at double-time because of the icy wind, often taking a detour to warm up. Therefore, our children’s souvenirs were determined more by the need for warmth ½ way between destinations. Hence our son received custom M&M’s and our daughter a t-shirt from Toys “Я” Us.

I had worn my long red wool coat and because of that, I became aware of how much black New Yorkers wear. I realized my bright color was as good as a sign on my back proclaiming, “Tourist.” Every half block someone tried to sell us tickets to a comedy show or circus or something.

Ed Sullivan Theater

One of our mornings we had a few extra hours and decided to try one of the other shows. We joined the queue outside a late night talk show. After fifteen minutes of winding around a building with our noses buried into our collars, we were shown to a lobby where the line split a couple of times—each leading to a young person at a desk who asked us questions.

My DH was in a good mood, and I let him do most of the talking. The girl sent us to a short line outside that was taken into a small room while the longer line remained in the cold. There we were congratulated before our group was taken to a back hall-way where we were told we had made the cut because of our enthusiasm. Since I hadn’t shown much, I figured it was my DH’s charm.

A couple of caffeine laden young girls began to flatter us into laughter and cheers, prepping us for the show, and encouraging us to give it all we had. “If you aren’t sure if a joke is funny or not, just laugh any way.” When a part of our group was taken to the balcony, I began to worry. If we were the best cut, why were half of us being given the worse seats? But they reassured us that we would be down front—on the first two rows where the cameras would scan. I looked closer at our group—yep, snazzy dressers. It must have been my red coat, I decided.

But when we were seated, I learned something important. Yes, we were on the second row—eye level with the stage, where all the roving cameras rolled. All I ever saw when I looked at the stage were people’s feet. Of course they knew this because monitors were provided every few chairs for us to watch.

That sign on my back? It didn’t just say “tourist,” it said “gullible.”

BTW, the jokes were not funny and after awhile we quit laughing “anyway”. Also, when we saw the show later, we were not in any of the shots of the audience. Not even close.

I wonder what they told the people in the balcony to make them feel special.

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