April 26, 2009 by Sarojini Seupersad
I love parties. Meeting new people and instantly forgetting their names; drinking cocktails and eating food I didn’t have to prepare; taking drunk photos that don’t make sense the next day – I love it all and I’m game. So I was psyched to go to my friend’s uber-modern, co-ed baby shower/barbeque. I was not psyched, however, that the party was in Staten Island.
Where, you ask? Let me explain. See, there’s a little, actually kinda big, island off the west coast of Brooklyn and south of Manhattan, called Staten (pronounced Stat-In) Island. It’s really, really, really far away and if you don’t live there, chances are, you’ve never been there. Allegedly, it’s a borough, but I don’t believe the people who tout this myth. It’s not even on the subway map (as if you’d try to go.)
In order for me to get to the party on time (3 pm) I’d have to leave my house at say, yesterday. I have to take a train, to a ferry, to a bus. Any place that’s this difficult to get to, can’t be good. My friend informs me there’s an “Express” bus I can take, instead of all of the ferry nonsense. I hopstop it to see how long this “Express” bus will take. The result: two hours.
I don’t wear a watch and the inner-timepiece in my head is always 30 minutes late, so I try to hurry so I’ll get to the “Express” bus on time. Of course I missed it and I had to wait for the next one. Figures. I’m always late.
When I finally get on the bus, I’m already behind schedule for my two hour trip. Rats. At least the bus is comfortable, almost luxurious, I’d say. The bus is packed, but I found a seat near the middle. I settle in, put my ipod on and close my eyes. Fifteen minutes in, right before the Verrazano, the huge, grey bus skreeches to a stop and I hear a crunching noise. This can’t be good for my travel time.
Cops show up, papers are shuffled, announcements are made and then the driver – let’s call him Frankie – gets off the bus and disappears for ten minutes, while all the passengers sit tight, confused. He gets back on the bus, starts driving and then informs us that he had a little fender bender and will be stopping at 39th Street (in Brooklyn) where we will be met by another bus to continue our journey because this one is out of commission. Wait. Aren’t you driving it right now? I hear a passenger from far behind me yell, “What the fuck, Driver?! What the fuck is going on?!” Testy, testy now, Mr. Staten Island. I know you need to get home to be with your fellow people of easily angered status, but let’s calm down a bit.
When we arrive at 39th Street, there is no bus waiting. The driver gets off, but tells us we can stay seated while we wait. You mean I don’t have to stand in the hot sun, carrying a baby gift surrounded by angry Staten Islanders? Thanks Frankie. His supervisor shows up in a fancy SUV, with an ambulance trailing him, lights blazing and all. No one is hurt. This is turning into quite a spectacle.
We all sit there for more than an hour. Sporadically, people get on and off the bus to smoke a cigarette or just to let off some Staten Island steam. I got off to stretch my legs and an older gentleman, who sounds like Mario (of Mario and Luigi fame) starts talking to me about the weather. I’m so bored, I welcome any conversation, even small talk. His white, handlebar mustache was doing all of the talking and I had a hard time concentrating on what he was saying. Is this guy even real? Did my bored brain conjure him up to entertain me? The only thing missing from this scene is the circus music. I find myself nodding in agreement to some unknown statement, mesmerized by his cartoonishness.
Meanwhile, Frankie and his supervisor are having a meeting of the minds near the SUV. Eventually, they address the crowd outside of the bus, which has grown exponentially over the course of this ordeal, and tell us we can get back on the bus. They decided, after more than an hour, that the bus is in fine shape afterall.
By the time I get to the party, I’m so late, it’s comical. Surprisingly, there’s still food left (I’m so hungry, I’m ready to eat the baby’s gift, with the wrapping paper for dessert ) and I chow down before I even say hello to anyone.
Top to bottom, this trip cost me 4 hours of my life. But, the party was delightful and a blur of booze and fun. On top of that, I got a ride home! In a car! To Brooklyn!
Next time – if there is a next time – I’ll take my chances on the ferry.