We are family, Part 2: Sybil Servant

SYBIL AND HER FRIENDS (Sybil is the one in the middle, I think.)

We’re the Three Best Friends
That Anyone Could Have
And We’ll Never ever ever ever
Leave Each other

So back at the insane asylum aka MY LIFE… Sybil would like to go back into NYC.

On Tuesday, Saint Tony said he would take her, god bless him. Sybil couldn’t go alone- she’s never make it back out. This is the same woman who has gotten on the wrong airplane… twice. Tony had planned to take her to the Museum of Natural History. I told him that if he was looking to LOSE her, he should find a science fiction museum and hope they would be taking inventory.

But, alas, Sybil wanted to go on another boat trip- this time: The Circle Line. Tony told her to pack her cement shoes.

Prior to the boat trip, Tony planned to take Sybil to Canal Street or “Cane- Al” Street as Sybil called it. The vendors on Canal Street LOVED Sybil, as one would expect.

Cane -AL Street

They love people who touch everything, and then drop everything and then buy things and then 20 minutes later try to return everything because they find it cheaper down the street. Sybil is now blackballed from Canal Street. Much like when the police or FBI come around, when Sybil is spotted, all of the garage doors start slamming. This is a feat that is exceptionally difficult to achieve. Even Sticky-Fingers Lohan is welcomed on Canal Street.

The real draw of Canal Street for Tony is its proximity to Chinatown and Little Italy and the food that comes along with that. Tony was looking forward to going to our favorite Malaysian restaurant or having Dim Sum or something yummy in Little Italy. They went to the Malaysian restaurant and Sybil gave him this:

They went by a few Italian restaurants on Mulberry… and Tony got this:

They ate at Burger King. In Chinatown. BURGER KING IN CHINATOWN. She should be deported for this action alone.

Tony was completely tortured. He loves a good meal and is always open to new things. He, like I, do not understand why you would travel to a foreign country and not be willing to TRY something different. If she wanted crappy food, she should have stayed in England. (Don’t get your knickers in a knot- there is SOME good food in England, but where Tony is from, the bulk of the food is canned or “boil in a bag,” or overdone meat with some type of starch or bland cream sauce.)

They proceeded to go to the Circle Line, Tony bought a nice, giant, soft pretzel.

He gave Sybil a piece. She put it in her mouth and spat it out. It was “disgusting.”

A SOFT PRETZEL disgusts Sybil. By the way, a soft pretzel is my kryptonite. It, literally, takes every ounce of willpower for me to walk past an Auntie Anne’s or a Pretzel Time and NOT stop.

Sybil wants to have her picture taken everywhere. But she is incapable of standing still and smiling. She’s constantly looking around and fidgeting. She is NEVER actually looking at the camera.

God only knows what the pictures will look like- the guys at the photoshop will have a good laugh. Yes, she uses a film camera. Actually, disposable cameras. Welcome to the 80’s Sybil.

Sybil wasn’t knocked overboard so to exact his revenge, Tony made Sybil walk to Grand Central from The Circle Line Pier. It’s 10 blocks, but Sybil was exhausted and bragging about how she walked 10 blocks.

On their way home, Tony stopped and picked up Indian Food. Sybil totally eats curry (National Food of the UK). So she ate what she wanted and was going to “save the rest for me breakfast.” So she did.

She put the place on the edge of the counter with a PAPER TOWEL covering it.

I’m considering this a 4th attempt on the life of my canine children.

Ohhhhh Aunt Sybil… my belly…

At the Indian Restaurant, she picked up this:

I’d like to order 1 ba She g of gross, please?

won’t eat a soft pretzel, but THIS looks appealing to her. (I threw it in the garbage 15 seconds after she went home. I should have MAILED it to her)

Wednesday was doomsday. The one day I took off from work to spend with Sybil. Tony and I planned to take her into New York City to see a Broadway Show. Our plan was to go to the TKTS booth and get some half price tickets. We spoke to Sybil prior to see what show she might like to see. Sybil loves ABBA, so we thought she might want to see Mama Mia. Nope. Because she doesn’t know what it’s about. I try to explain, but like everything else, it’s impossible. We land on Mary Poppins- Sybil’s choice.

We dropped Tony off to get in the TKTS line while Sybil and I went to park the car. Because the TKTS line can get pretty long, they have barricades set up, like at an amusement park, so the line zigzags back and forth.

The barricades are metal stands and they are connected with strips of fabric- like seatbelt material. The fabric strips clip into the metal stands.

We found Tony in the line, we had to duck under the barricade. So Sybil goes first and stands up in the middle of her “duck”, so the fabric strip comes detached from the metal stand. Because the fabric bands have a tension mechanism in them, when you unhook them, they snap back and wind up quickly. The fabric band snaps back, wildly, hitting people in its wake and finally ends its reign of terror about 50 feet down the line.

Oh f*ck! So there is a BIG African American Body Guard Type dude who controls the line… and as I’m walking along the line apologizing. “I’m sorry, my sister in law is clueless and mentally deranged.” “I’m sorry about the 2 inch laceration to your face, my sister in law is from another planet” “I’m sorry, she only has two days to live, she is our ‘Make a Wish’ kid…” the guard looks angrier and angrier. As I’m trying to fix the barricade, he said to me, under his breath “Every family has one.”

She has 2 wishes: Go see a Broadway Show and to be elected President of the USA

When I get back in line with Tony and Sybil, having personally apologized to every person in the line, Sybil asks “What did you do?”

I married your brother, pet. I married your brother.

Sybil also told me that day that Tony is no longer HER Brother, he’s MY husband. I was like OK- does that mean I can never see you again?

So after we get the tickets and are walking away from the booth. And Sybil turns the tickets over. (The backside of the ticket is just tiny print- legal mumbo jumbo.) I ask Sybil what she is looking for? “Well I was wondering if it tells what the show is about on the tickets?” (Like it would on the back cover of a book.)

I said “No, it doesn’t.”

“Well how do you know what it’s about?” Sybil asked.

“It’s Mary Poppins, Sybil. Do you not know what Mary Poppins is about”

“Yeah, I thought it might be different.” Sybil said

In the current Broadway version, Mary is a Vampire Hunter and Bert is the leader of a biker gang. Jane is a child prostitute and Michael is a meth dealer. The song “Spoonful of Sugar” has a whole new meaning.

We stroll away from the TKTS booth, dodging traffic, making sure Sybil isn’t getting run over by a taxi and Sybil decides she wants to go to the “Hershey’s Store.” We made it through the store, pretty much, without incident. Although, Sybil insisted that there were no prices on anything (every item was very clearly marked).

We decided to walk over to 9th Avenue to have lunch. If you aren’t aware, 9th Avenue in the 40’s is rich with restaurants. Italian, Thai, Cajun, Greek- there are tons of places to eat, and I’ve never had a bad meal on 9th Avenue. (Although, I noticed that Rin’s and my favorite place, Basilica, has closed. 😦 RIP Home of Hot Italian Waiters.)

We stopped to look at several menus, and at every one we got “the face.”

Italian? Ew.

Spanish? Yuck.

Thai? No way.

Brazilian? Not happening.

“We are in the greatest city in the world and you won’t try any of the food.”

“You do not have enough Fish and Chip shops here.” replied Sybil.

On mine, hold the lemon.  But can I have extra newspaper ink?

“Really? You can’t find anything to eat on this menu?” We were standing in front of an Italian restaurant. Their menu had, literally, dozens of options.

“I’ll have that! hahahahahahaha” Sybil points to a salad topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese. What is so funny?

Parmesan cheese?  REVOLTING

Sybil hates cheese. She walks away, laughing hysterically, and won’t even look at anything else on the menu.

Parmesan cheese!??!! INCONCEIVABLE!!

Finally we happen upon an Irish pub. Oh good- terrible food, right up Sybil’s pathetically unadventurous alley. “Look Sybil,” Tony said “they have pies!”

Sybil said “I don’t eat pies.”

“Yes you do.” Tony said “You eat them frozen. In the little foil tins?.”

“Nope.” Sybil insisted, giving us, again “the face”

“I don’t eat pies. And I will not allow you to BULLY me into eating anything I don’t want to eat.” (Note; I’m pretty sure I’ve witnessed her eating a pie on more than one occasion.)

Finally, Sybil relented to eating at the Irish Pub because I pointed out they had Fish and Chips on the menu. I walked up, pulled the door… it is locked. They are closed. Ugh. Nooooooo! Noooooo!

There was another restaurant nearby that appeared to have terrible food, so we ate there. Sybil ordered “double-decker sliders” cooked well done. Tony and I ordered booze. Sybil’s shoe leather on a bun arrived and she happily ground the first slider into mush and ate it. The second double slider was pulled apart- bun discarded (which is something I do regularly)- Sybil picked up the meat patty with her fork and ate it, bite by bite off of the fork like a corn dog.

Does anyone have Emily Post on speed-dial?

A hamburger is not a food on a stick!! Again, there was a knife sitting right next to her dish. Why does she not use a knife? Thank God no one was sitting near us. Tony assures me, as children, they were taught manners, but I don’t believe it. I’ve seen children, who were raised by wolves, with better table manners.

An Early Family Photo

We proceeded to the theater and our seats were pretty high up in the balcony and Sybil was terrified getting to her seat. She was grabbing onto strangers, eeking in terror. At intermission, she managed to make her way to the lobby and ordered some M&Ms and some popcorn. When the attendant gave her the bill, she took 5 minutes getting her money our despite the growing line behind her.

If this English chick would finish her transaction, we might be able to get some water before Act 2

She sat during the second act, messing with the plastic popcorn bag. I was ready for someone to SHHH her, but they didn’t (probably because we were surrounded by parents and kids. And they were SINGING ALONG to all of the songs. As you can imagine, I felt like I was in the 10th Circle of Hell.). When we got up to leave the theater, there as so much popcorn on the floor- I wonder if any of it hit her mouth.

Hmmm, I seem to have missed my mouth.  Several hundred times.

Once we left the theater, we headed to Union Square to go through the Green Market. We stopped at Starbucks and I asked Sybil what she wanted. She insisted on ordering for herself. This should be good. She tried to strike up a conversation with the cashier and the barista. Keep in mind, there were, easily 20 people behind her in line. She advised them of all of the ways they can improve things at Starbucks. And by improve, she means to make them operate the way they do in the UK and make everything TEA.

We sat in Union Square, surrounded by “interesting types.”

Performers in UnderRoos with bras on their heads, hare krishnas, people dressed from head to toe in tin foil. But what Sybil found most fascinating were the squirrels. She chased them around trying to take their picture. Which made the park visitors stare at Sybil, as if she had a bra on her head.  In fairness, the squirrels in Union Square are something special…

We had dinner plans with our friend, Jimmy. We were going to a Jewish Restaurant in Tribeca. We knew, full well, this would be a major problem for Sybil as she’s a HUGE anti-semite…just kidding, she isn’t. At all.   Duh! It was the FOOD that was going to be a problem because they don’t serve fish and chips or hamburger briquettes.  We knew we were going to have to force it on her because we weren’t about to tell Jimmy he had to eat at Burger King.

The only reason we exposed Jimmy to Sybil is because he’s a GREAT guy. He’s southern and loves a good laugh, plus we warned him ahead of time that sharing a meal with Tony’s sister might get him on “”Ripley’s Believe it or Not.” Jimmy can talk to anyone- and although I’m not, entirely, sure he wouldn’t judge us by Sybil, I knew he and I could laugh about the dinner later.

Oh and Sybil did NOT disappoint.

We got the menu.

My immediate reaction: Yummmmo. Secondary reactions: F*CK! What is Sybil going to eat. Jimmy, Tony and I had absolutely no problem picking a meal… Sybil not so much. She didn’t want any of it. I suggested the lamb? (She doesn’t like fish- big f*cking shock, right? She doesn’t eat duck and the steak, both dishes had “things” with it that she wouldn’t eat- onions and horseradish.)

Ok, ok, Sybil would order the lamb. I prayed she didn’t notice that it came with cabbage and green garlic. She didn’t. Tony ordered the Trout, Jimmy ordered a short rib (not on the menu above) and I ordered the Kreplach. We also got an order of potato pancakes for the table.

But, make no mistake, there was no caviar on top.  That would have been game-over

The potato pancake went over fine.

But then, the lamb came. It was beautiful. I don’t even EAT lamb and it looked delicious.

It was pink and cooked perfectly. This perfect plate was placed in front of Sybil and she made “the face.”

And then she said, loudly, “I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE COOKED?!?!?!”

And oh, what happened next- even I couldn’t predict.  Sybil picked up the lamb chop and eat it with her hands.

Sybil, the petite flower

I was mortified. I mean, it’s not like we were in the middle of a crowded restaurant or anything…

I know you are going to be bowled over by this, Sybil hated her meal. And she was downright crabby about it.

Jimmy decided to make some conversation. “So, Sybil, who is your favorite hero from British history?”

Sybil contemplated this for a moment… “Nicholas Cage” she replied

Try again as he’s not British…and he’s NICHOLAS CAGE.

“Einstein.” was Sybil’s second guess.

Yeah, he wasn’t British either.

Ok, next subject. “How has your stay been, Sybil? Have you had a good time?” Jimmy asked.

“ish.” Sybil said.

“ish?” asked Jimmy

“I’ve had an okay-ish time.” Sybil said flatly.

Well, it’s understandable really. I mean, her only brother took a week off from his very busy job to shlepp her around New York City, battling tourists, the heat, crowds, eating terrible food and getting balls for suggesting anything new. We spent hundreds of dollars entertaining her, making sure we planned nice dinners, subjected our friends to her bullsh*t and nonsense only to have her say she’s had an “okay-ish” time.

I was done. Stick a fork in me. Or better yet, stick the fork in her.
We, later, found out that she was pissed off that we FORCED HER to get the lamb and she didn’t like it. So she acted like a two year old and pouted.

I hated my dinner.  And they forced me to order it and then tied me to the chair and made me eat it. 

On our way back to the car, Sybil wanted to have her picture taken in front of a Broadway Theatre. Ok. Which one? It doesn’t matter. Ok, how about this one? Sybil poses, next to a giant dumpster, pointing up to the sign. The name of the show? “Enemy of the People.” Well, yeah, that’s appropriate. Unfortunately that picture of her is on one of her disposable cameras.

But we only had 1 more day. 24 more mere hours to survive.

Thursday arrived and I felt compelled to send an apology to Jimmy:

At home, Tony asked Sybil if she was all packed?

“No.” Sybil replied.

“Why not? Your flight is in a few hours.” Tony said.

“No it isn’t. My flight is tomorrow.” Sybil said.

What?! WHAT?!?!?! Tony, wisely, demanded to see her plane ticket. Tony was correct, her flight was Thursday evening.

So, Sybil got all packed up and I rode to the airport with them. When Tony unloaded her suitcase from the back, I noticed the fancy luggage tag she had on her bag:

When we got into the Terminal, we had to do self-check-in at a kiosk. It might as well have been a nuclear reactor as Sybil couldn’t make heads or tails of how to use it. Tony tried, but was having a problem getting Sybil’s passport to swipe at the kiosk. He gave up, we were going to have to wait in line for some personal help. I was like “Hell no! We are getting this to work… STAT.”

I managed to get her passport scanned and we had to select her seat. I said “Sybil, do you want a window seat?”

Sybil said “Well, it doesn’t need to be a window seat. But I don’t want an aisle or the middle.”

So I selected a lovely seat for Sybil in the landing gear.

We managed to check Sybil’s ghetto suitcase, and got her in the line for security. We waited until she got through security and then we ran like hell and jumped for joy!

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty we are free at last!!!

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