April 09 2010
So this past week my nephew came to town. I picked him up at my brother’s office in midtown and we immediately headed to FAO Schwarz because my nephew had $20 to spend. He wanted to get a remote control car. We found one for $40 and I told him I’d pay for half…
But in the same section there was also a yellow remote control speedboat! And Mr. Smart Uncle had the bright idea of him getting the speedboat instead. I told him we could bring it to Central Park and zoom it around in the fountain with the toy sailboats. Told him we could do donuts with the speedboat around the sleepy old sailboats. Better than any regular old car…
We got the boat and batteries and headed deep into the park toward the big fountain.
Here’s a photo of the fountain with the boats…
… whennn it has water in it— which it don’t yet. Too early in the season. It was still bone dry.
So my Plan B was to zoom the powerboat around in the lake instead– where all the romantic rowboaters paddle around. We sat down on a rock to remove the packaging (an ordeal in itself) and put in the batteries. But turns out we needed a small phillips head screwdriver to get into the battery compartment! So we wandered around the park in 88 degree heat stopping anyone and everyone who seemed to maybe have a phillips head on them. Fancy camera people. Hot dog carts. Even knocked on the door of a movie trailer. No phillips anywhere! My nephew was getting grumpy. I was getting grumpy. I tried to turn our wandering into ‘The Quest for Phillip’s Head’. He wasn’t buying into the game. It was too hot out.
Eventually we found a Central Park worker who had one! I explained the battery/boat situation. He told me I wasn’t allowed to zoom a remote boat around anywhere in the park. Told me I could get a ticket. Doh! I asked him if I could umm… maybe borrow the phillips head anyway? He said ‘What for?‘ I was stumped. He winked. We left the park and headed toward Brooklyn in a defeated grump. I scoured my brain thinking where we could find some free legal water somewhere near my place.
Ding! Plan C was to take the boat to Brooklyn Bridge Park where there’s this rocky beach section that heads down into the water of the East River. Here’s a photo of that:
A solid hour after leaving Central Park we get to the shoreline on the East River in Dumbo, Brooklyn. I hand my nephew the remote control and proudly plop the boat in the water. It was such a relief to just set that thing afloat! Felt like success! Finally some boat zooming fun! A small crowd sitting on the rocks watched us do our thing with the boat.
The nephew starts working the controls and the boat doesn’t seem to be reacting at all. All the boat seems to be doing is drifting. It was riding over the little wave breaks and basically floating away. Fast. I took the controls from my nephew. The boat ignored all signals! WTF! I didn’t know if it was turned off or what but I knew I had to think fast! Two choices. 1. We watch the $40 boat drift out into the river. 2. I march into the friggin East River and go get it. (btw the idea of wading out into the river was unappealing due to the rumors of sewage mixed with toxic waste mixed with cement shoed bottom dwellers from the 70’s).
But I refused to lose the boat after hours of annoyance. I marched straight out into the river (shoes and all) in front of a now entertained crowd of people. I remember the moment the water hit my wang and thinking, ‘Oh man. My wang is totally in the East River! Ew!’ (fortunately I only had to go in up to my knees! ohhh!) Just kidding. Up in to my waist. I grabbed the boat and marched back to shore all soggy and smelly and contaminated. Turned out the dumb boat was working fine– the dumb uncle on the other hand assumed a friggin $40 boat could navigate through actual real currents etc…
Yadda etc… I made a bee-line back home for a shower. And on the way back my nephew who finally started seeing the funny in it all said, ‘You know. We could have just gotten the car. Like I wanted…’