The Scratches Take Manhattan, Part 1

The Scratches Take Manhattan 2

Since moving to Pennsylvania more than two years ago, we’d been promising the kids that we’d take them for their first visit to New York City. Delusional dreamer that I am, I had long envisioned the occasion involving an expensive overnight stay, but since we so far have been humiliatingly unsuccessful at luring our financial ship to shore, we decided it was time to temper our grandiose desires and settle for a day trip.

And though we didn’t take the Acela up from Philly, cruise a limo to a Broadway show, dine like kings and queens at Nobu and spend the night in a suite at the Plaza, we did still manage to have one hell of a good time.

In the interest of helping those of you who, like myself, have chosen a thus-far less-than-lucrative career path, I offer you …

The Official Daddy Scratches Guide to Family Fun
in New York City … for Broke-Ass People!™

Step One: Park your car at the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island, where all-day parking costs just $8 Monday through Saturday, and is — hold on to your hats — FREE on Sunday! (We didn’t know about the free-Sunday-parking thing, so already we’re up $8. This day is practically paying for itself.)

Step Two: Board the ferry and ride it across the bay to Manhattan for — dig this — FREE! I know, right? The fact that they offer this service free of charge, seven days per week, is mind-boggling to me. BONUS: You’ll cruise right past the Statue of Liberty … which is far more impressive on a day when the fog isn’t thicker than pea soup.

Taking the Staten Island Ferry to NYC

If you squint real hard and use your imagination, you can almost
see Lady Liberty in the background … after you’ve finished admiring my children’s painfully forced-looking smiles, that is.

Step Three: Can’t afford those expensive tickets to a full-scale Broadway production? Not to worry: Upon disembarking from the ferry, you can treat the family to a magical performance by two shirtless dudes covered in prison tattoos!

My son volunteered to help street performers near the South Street ferry terminal in NYC

Wanna kick things up a notch? Allow the shirtless, prison-tattoo dudes to use your first-born child in their act!

Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

Me: “Hey, you guys, I bet they don’t let kids get on stage at ‘The Lion King’! See? This is EVEN BETTER!”

Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

Me: “Honey, relax! What could possibly go wrong? I mean, obviously, these guys are professionals. If they weren’t, they’d be, like, performing in the street outside a ferry terminal in lower Manhattan! Oh, wait …”

Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

Airborne street performer: “I’m sorry your parents don’t love you.”

Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

Me: “Nice job, Zan! Now let’s go find some fire jugglers for Jayna!”

Step three: Cabs are for sissies (and also for people who can afford to take a cab). Suck it up and ride the subway! Sure, you might get pushed onto the tracks by a mentally disturbed stranger … but that risk just adds to the excitement of your urban adventure!

Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

Pro tip: Act casual and your kids will never know
that their lives are in danger.

Step four: Two words: Times Square, where sightseeing and people-watching is still free … mostly. (OK, that was more than two words.)

Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

You’ll have great fun pointing out all the shows to which
you won’t be taking them and all the stores in which
you won’t be buying them things!

Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

SPENDING ALERT: Lovable characters like the ones shown above line the streets of Midtown Manhattan … and by “Lovable characters” I mean “Enterprising pan-handlers who’ve secured professional-quality costumes guaranteed to lure in many children, the unsuspecting parents of whom will be expected to grease the outstretched hands of said characters after said characters have posed for a photo with said children.” (For the record: This was not a surprise to me. I mention it here as a public service. Speaking of which: It’s entirely possible that a goodly number of the folks dressed in these get-ups are registered sex offenders. You’re welcome.)

At the opposite end of the spectrum from potential pedophiles who conceal themselves in costumes, we have, of course, Times Square mainstay The Naked Cowboy:

naked cowboy

Confession: I didn’t photograph The Naked Cowboy.
This guy (who I don’t know) did … but I needed a shot of him to set up the rest of this post, so I borrowed this one.
So thank you, Guy I Don’t Know.

Zan, upon seeing The Naked Cowboy for the first time:

“He must not have gone to college!”

I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that a dude whose full-time job is to stand outside in his underwear makes more than me. Don’t believe me? According to his official website (yes, the underwear guy has an official website), he’ll preside over your wedding in Times Square for the modest price of $499 … but, you know … yay college!

Still, my questionable career choices notwithstanding, we are nonetheless living it up in the Big Apple …and we’ve barely spent a dime! Don’t worry, though: In Part 2, I’ll show you how to really blow your budget all to hell … and have a great time doing it!

Stay tuned!

To be continued in Part 2

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Posted in Family, Life, Parenthood | 10 Responses

This entire thing is in my stomach right now


The tomato sauce counts as a vegetable, right?

File under “Irony” …

Right after lunch, I got this email from my doc:

Your labs from yesterday are excellent. As expected, your HDL (good) cholesterol is even higher [than last year], and the remainder of your numbers are healthy.

Please have someone carve that on my tombstone this weekend. Thanks.

I’m gonna miss you guys.

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For those of ye who doubt that old people can still party, allow me to tender myself as Exhibit A in the case of The Man Who Rocked His 43rd Birthday … by Going to the Doctor and Getting His Annual Physical!

Visiting the doc isn’t the only thing I did to celebrate my big day, though. I also toasted myself with some special birthday shots. Yeah, first I got a flu shot … and then I got a Combined Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis Vaccine. That kinda sucked, so I made up for it by tying off and sticking a needle in my arm. (Well, actually, the lab tech did that … when she took a vial of my blood.)

But still: I’m a wild man … as evidenced by this evening’s impending pizza party.

Today’s physical comes on the heels of yesterday’s dentist visit for a long overdue cleaning/checkup, and last week’s annual vision exam. You see, I need to make sure all this shit is in good working order … because I plan to get my money’s worth out of this mortal coil during the second half.

Game on.

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Posted in Life, My Birthday | 7 Responses

I appreciate this company-sanctioned act of rebellion


I feel young. Wild. Free.

Look at me, bitches! I’m flipping off the establishment!

Screw you, responsibility and adulthood! I’m a modern day Peter Pan! (If Peter Pan spent 40 hours per week in a cubicle farm, that is.)

Khakis and dress shoes be damned. Today, I’m dressing down. Today, it’s jeans and sneakers. Because today? Today, my friends … is

Casual Friday!

Yeah, baby! Today, I’m sticking it to The Man!

(With his permission, of course.)

(Thank you, sir. May I have another?)

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Posted in Cubicle, Life | 12 Responses

♫ It’s the least … wonderful tiiime … of the yeeearrr ♬

Nighty-night. Wake me in June.

Wake me when it’s summer, m’kay?

Well, the holidays are over, boys and girls, and you know what that means: Time for me to slide into my cryogenic sleep chamber and get all kinds of unconscious for the next few months!

Listen, I can handle the fall. I don’t like it … but I can handle it. In fact, if we could go from summer to fall and then right back to summer again, I’d be all smiles when fall showed up. Based on the current arrangement, however, fall is just nature’s equivalent of a used-car dealer pulling a shitty bait-and-switch routine.

“You’re looking for Summer? Well, we’re all out of those, but lemme show you something that I think you’re really gonna love. Step right this way and feast your eyes on … FALL! Isn’t she a beauty? Yessiree, my friend: Fall is just like summer … only BETTER! Look at that beautiful foliage! So colorful! And that weather! So mild and dry!

“What’s that? Dark at 4 o’clock in the afternoon? Well, yes, this model does feature a one-hour time change, but that doesn’t happen for a while, and plus— Say what? You heard that all the pretty leaves fall off the trees, leaving behind the most depressingly desolate landscape you’ve ever seen? OK, technically, yes, that’s true, but— Plummeting temperatures? Well, granted things do cool down a bit, but — WAIT! NO! DON’T OPEN THE TRUNK!”



… thafuck?

Yeah, like that.

Now, as much as I despise the transition from fall to winter, I’m fairly adept at convincing myself that the November and December climate change is just part of a holiday-season set piece … and, taken in that context, I’m OK with it. In fact, I had the most delightful holiday season of my life this year, and when the first snowflakes of this winter began to fall on Christmas Eve, I was totally down with the magic of the moment.

It’s January 8th. The magic’s gone, bitch.

There are few things more bleak and dreary than early January. As soon as the decorations are stowed in the attic and the Christmas tree has been relegated to the trash heap, I’m ready to suck down a propofol shake and slip into a five-month coma.

Unfortunately, my propofol connections have all dried up and the cryogenic sleep chamber I’ve been working on hasn’t quite gelled … so it looks like I’m going to have to do what I did last year … which is to drag my ass out of bed before sunup and torture myself work out like a mental patient in the hopes that the endorphin rush will keep me from curling up in the fetal position until June.

So, you know … I have that to look forward to.

Hey, do any of you have a Caribbean mansion I can borrow for a few months?

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Posted in Life, Winter | 18 Responses