Sunday, and Manhattan is empty and yet is teeming with people.
Empty on sidewalks normally full -- teeming with people in stores. Uniqlo. Bloomingdale's. Banana Republic. Dean & Deluca.
A and I had lunch in Chinatown at a Buddhist vegetarian place on the advice of our former Japanese neighbor (the origami tie guy). His wife couldn't meet us, as she was sick at home. We ate dim sum hand-shaped like swans. And the taro curd cake with bean sauce was dreamy. Exceedingly good. We visited our Japanese friend's artist studio. We left at the appropriate time (after about the third yawn and when his left eyelid began to close involuntarily).
Mom, what is that called again?
Food coma, hon.
Shall we see Pirates? Yes? No?
We stopped for bubble tea. It had been a very long time since I had had bubble tea. I forgot how incredibly *wide* bubble tea straws can be.
A voice came up behind me.
Do you want handbag? Gucci, Coach?
Handbag? You want handbag? Gucci, Coach.
A looks at me.
Oh. Yeah sure. Handbag. I'll take a look.
The old Chinese man leads us around the block. He looks behind him, directly at us, but not directly at us -- behind us? Maybe 30 times.
We are still walking behind this Chinese man. Another younger Chinese man in a blue shirt is standing at a street corner. They do a subtle eye signal to each other. They think I don't notice.
The old Chinese man finally slows his pace. He dials up someone on his cell phone. He says five words that I do not understand. He turns to the ground and looks below. There is a stairwell in the ground, to G-d knows where, and we are to descend it.
Don't worry, I tell A. It'll be fine. Think: James Bond.
We descend. It is dark. It is a bare, nondescript room. The younger Chinese man in the blue shirt that I had seen giving the eye signal earlier suddenly appears. He takes over, and closes the door behind us.
There is a door in front of us. It has a very big bolt on the door. Blue shirt opens it and leads us in. He tells the older man to stand by the outside door.
Before us are Gucci, Coach and Prada bags. All counterfeit.
After perusing the wares, I thank him, but tell him, no, sorry, not today. We are allowed the freedom of leaving the secret basement store and seeing the sun shine again.
We walked towards Broadway.
Pearl River beckoned. If you haven't been to Manhattan, don't miss shopping on Broadway in SoHo. It's impossible to miss Pearl River. It's a yuppified Chinese-Japanese Pottery Barn/Kate's Paperie/Williams-Sonoma/JAS Mart/Eileen Fisher/novelty-style shop rolled into one.
Mom can I buy this?
Sure with your money.
Erm...I'll think about it.
Okay, let's go out now.
Wait I need time.
I want to go out.
No I need more time, mom.
We can come back another time --- no good to impulse shop. Trust me on this one.
The Scholastic store seduced us and A bought a Garth Nix book. There were lots of little kids in the store. A was embarasssed to be the only teen there.
We used the Scholastic store's loo.
Shall we see Pirates? Yes? No?
It's so hot. I wonder how Napoleon is doing.
Oooh -- the Leica store!
Let's go home.
Today was a good day, mom.
My mother called and informed me she would like to live in Spain.
We are now watching Kill Bill on Telemundo.