Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Last boat to America

Tonight L and I went on of them sunset cruises around Manhattan: two hours in a boat, meandering around the southern tip of the island as the sun goes down and the city twinkles back to life. I got us these tickets for her birthday a few months ago, and I thought this would be a romantic, studly evening. Wine would be served, the website said. There would be cheese and snacks.

Well, there was no wine. Nor was there cheese. There was an open snack bar, though, and a woman selling programs and Statue of Liberty foam crowns. And there were 85 Asian tourists as well as a smattering of Europeans, other miscellaneous tourists from other countries like the Midwest, and a few New Yorkers who had clearly gotten on the wrong boat. Right as we left the dock, the announcer (Paul, who regaled us with a two-hour lecture and a helpful tutorial on tipping practices) pointed out the other boats across the pier - the ones with sleek lines, the ones with tinted windows and provocative curves. Those were the dinner and dancing boats, the ones we should have been on. But they were too expensive. So instead we spent a romantic evening on Toot Toot the Ferryboat, moonlighting as a night cruise from its usual duty of shuffling bored Staten Island workers to the city.

But that was all right. It was awesome. A beautiful night, chilly, with a good woman at my side. I almost fell asleep, but that was natural given the conditions and time of day. The city was so beautiful at night - the buildings offering their own mosaics of light, the water a wine-dark mirror reflecting it all. Very romantic, very Gatsby in a way. Not quite the casanova moment I had hoped for, but when the lecturer stopped talking and you could focus on the lapping of the waves against the side of the boat and the distant twinkling of flashbulbs from the top of the Empire State Building, the night gained an unexpected charm of its own.

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