Number of miles driven today: 22

Total miles driven on road trip: 6,914

Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts? DD country.

Starbucks' record (# of days Starbucks was more common): 20-9-2

Dunkin' Donuts' record: 9-20-2

Cheapest gas I saw today: Are there any gas stations in Manhattan?

Number of states visited overall: 18

Number of red states visited overall (as of 2012 presidential election): 10 (Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina)

Number of blue states visited overall: 8 (California, New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York)

Percent accuracy about the stereotype of New Yorkers jaywalking: 100

Coolest piece of memorabilia at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse store in Greenwich Village: Original Time magazine cover of Jackie Robinson shortly after breaking the color barrier

Best text acronym given to us by the Millennials for its pure melodramatic lunacy: FML

Happy Third Birthday to my nephew Chase Offers!

​I entered a tunnel in Brooklyn, and when I emerged the entire world had been rotated 90 degrees.

Welcome to Manhattan.

As I mentioned in a previous post, there is no analogue to New York, especially its star borough of Manhattan. It is a fortress of built environment, a gleaming colossus of steel and technology populated at sea level by scurrying ants. Somewhere underneath all that gray is an island. 

I came out of the darkness and into the light right next to the World Trade Center site, a melee of tourists and construction. I drove all the way up to Union Square, dodging taxis and pedestrians, and actually found it less challenging than driving the streets of San Francisco. New York is tough, but in SF you've got every possible form of modern transportation sharing lanes--cars, bikes, mopeds, trains, trolleys, and buses--you half expect an airplane to land in front of you on Mission. 

I was meeting up with one of my best friends from childhood, Andrew Eil, who now lives with his wife Hannah in Harlem at the upper edge of Central Park. 

In the seventh grade, I moved to a new school called Wheeler, a private, touchy-feely prep school in Providence that was a good fit for sensitive, late-blooming types like myself. Had I gone to the local public school, Johnston High (which my dad threatened to send me to if my grades sank into the B's), I would undoubtedly have been stuffed into lockers.

Actually come to think of it, Wheeler wasn't that much better in the 7th grade. Seventh graders are, by and large, among the worst people on the planet, somewhere between pedophiles and defense attorneys. OK, not really, but we all know it's a rough age. 

Walking into my first homeroom that first day of school in 1992 wearing a two-tiered Medieval orthodontic device and socks hiked up to my knees, I did not exactly come in hot. 

The lunch room quickly demarcated the social hierarchy of the class, a series of round tables in a space called the French Dining Room that stratified us into the haves and the have nots. The veteran kids obviously had a leg up, as did those who were athletic or who made fun of others, and there was the occasional new kid who could break through the cool ranks.

I met Andrew at the have nots table. We were a motley crew--too skinny, too fat, too nerdy, too smart, too knowledgeable about Star Wars. Andrew was the bookworm, the academic powerhouse of the class, leapfrogging levels of math and in high demand for adjacent seats on exam day. It didn't help that he had coke-bottle type glasses. I was a meek, buck-toothed, curious kid who prided himself on work ethic. I never thought I had any great natural intellectual gifts. But I would outwork you. 

Aside from our penny stock status in the Wheeler Social Exchange, what Andrew and I also had in common was our love of baseball, a love deepened and strengthened by our scrutiny of baseball cards (come to think of it, I'm sure our penny stock value and baseball knowledge were correlated).

We had sleepovers where we spent hours on the floor of a bedroom trading baseball cards, haggling over nickels and dimes in the value of cards, agonizing over deals. 

And today, having shed our coke bottle glasses and orthodontics, we got to turn back the clock and do it again.

Andrew's friend Jay Golderg runs a fantastic baseball memorabilia shop in Greenwich Village called Bergino Baseball Clubhouse. We escaped the unusual heat melting the city by ducking into his store on 11th St., where a gallery of baseball-related artwork and other arcana hung. Before walking in, Andrew and I had discussed the possibility of Jay having some packs of baseball cards for sale. 

We hit the jackpot. Not only did Jay have packs, but he had actual wax packs from the exact era where collected as kids (see photo above). No 1986 (the year of the pack for this book), but 1987, 1988, and 1989, right in our wheelhouse.

We regressed before Jay's eyes, real-life Benjamin Buttons shrinking into the past. We grabbed a pack from each year and dashed back to the rooftop pool at Andrew's apartment complex. Once there, we designed a new game of card trading, splitting the packs in half and then playing general managers by trading cards until we each had built a full roster.

OK, you had to be there.


 ​​For older blog entries, click here.

Wax Pack Mania

Day 32: Manhattan, NY, 7.20.15


One Pack. No Turning Back.