Alone, and Loving it, in Summertime New York

Written by Our Town Downtown on . Posted in News Our Town, News West Side Spirit.


summer in the city_fmtAs you read this, Manhattanites are getting ready to head out to the Hamptons for the weekend: the young New Yorkers to their shares occupied by 25 of their closest friends, the older and mortgaged to their second homes.

This can be a bone of contention for some, leading to the FAQ: “Why them and not me?” But I say, “Goodbye and thank you.”

With any luck, those on their way to the East End via jitney, railroad or car (or helicopter, if they live on Park, Madison or Fifth) are employed by companies with summer hours that afford them the opportunity to leave early Friday afternoon, and they likely won’t return until very late Sunday night.

While those cats are away, I can play on an emptier, hence more pleasurable, Upper East Side.

“Every weekend is like being on vacation,” says my husband, Neil, about our neighborhood from late May to early September. He in particular enjoys the practically vacant Carl Schurz Park, which he considers his personal reading room.

I appreciate walking across the main thoroughfares – 86th, 79th, 72nd, plus up and down the avenues — without the feeling that I’m trying to navigate an obstacle course, or as though I’m a football player running interference. The lines are shorter just about everywhere, and I don’t have to use Fandango to secure seats at AMC Loews Orpheum 7 or City Cinemas East 86th Street.

Even finding a parking space is without its usual long day’s journey into night oppressiveness.

The best, though, for me is not having to call for dinner reservations or use my OpenTable app, which usually gets a good workout during the rest of the year.

There’s something very breezy, New York chic about just walking into a restaurant and being seated right away. That’s what happened last Saturday evening at Libertador on Second Avenue between 89th and 90th. During the other seasons, when we’ve made an impromptu visit in search of a table, as with most all the avenue’s establishments, we’ve been offered that sigh-inducing window of 30 to 45 minutes waiting time, to which Neil always responds, “No, thanks,” to the hostess and, “Let’s go,” to me.

But this time, being seated without delay, by an open window no less for prime people watching, made the already delicious meal even more relaxing.

After dinner, I was tempted to stroll down to 81st and First for ice cream at Emack & Bolio’s, where during the week the line is usually out the door, but I didn’t want to push my luck; the evening had thus far been so perfect.

So, my dear weekend travelers, as I walk by while you wait for the Hampton Jitney in front of Victoria’s Secret on East 86th, or at any of the stops along Lexington for that matter, you’re assured that I do so with a big smile (as opposed to a sneer of resentment) and best wishes for you to have a great, long weekend.

And what happens when The Merkls take their turn going out to the beach? Well, that’s another table for four, unoccupied movie seats and sparsely populated stretches of sidewalk available to whomever remains here. You’re welcome.

Lorraine Duffy Merkl is a freelance writer in NYC and the author of the novel, “Back To Work She Goes.”

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