Of course that also meant people frequently showed up at my door and called on the phone. By about the second phone call/doorbell ring in, my mother would start saying:
"What is this, Grand Central Station?!"
And somehow, this phrase took on a life of its own. "What is this, Grand Central Station?" became by far the most common phrase in our household, and sooner or later, she used it to really describe anything. If we left clothes lying around. If we had a friend over and we were running out to the backyard. If we were playing with our cousins and making too much noise. If we left food out on the counter. If we left our backpacks at the table. If we left the house and had to come back because we forgot something. Pretty much anything warranted a "What is this, Grand Central Station?!"
Look, I've been to Grand Central Station. Mom had NO idea how great she had it. My sister and I dancing around on the floor in our socks? Playing slip-and-slide and tracking in a few blades of grass? Leaving some Legos or a book on the floor? None of this resembles Grand Central Station in any way, shape or form. Believe you me.
Grand Central Station is easily one of the worst places in NYC, behind only Times Square, the Empire State Building, and the 6 train at rush hour. The only way that you could feasibly compare any event or experience in my childhood home to Grand Central Station would be if at some point in my youth I had invited over:
- About 8,000 rats and 140,000 cockroaches
- A bunch of "Jews for Jesus" who were chasing my mom around holding clipboards and trying to enlist her
- A creepy old man who was "playing" the recorder at screech-level volume with horrible muzak accompaniment playing on a boombox in the background
- A person who sells pins
- Someone with a card table, a zillion brochures, a cooler, and 5 or 6 ominous posters which say that the rapture is approaching on May such and such 2011 and ask my mother if she is prepared to be judged
- A group of rapping breakdancers who perform the same exact show over and over again in our kitchen for cash
- A group of people who take out all my mom's pots and pans and then "play" them, for cash
- A drummer
- 500 homeless people who lay around our house
- 1000 vendors who glare suspiciously at my mom every time she touches anything in our kitchen
- A man who takes off his hat and announces, "Ladies and gentleman, may I have just a few moments of your time," proceeding to follow my mom around the house, tell her why he's destitute, and ask her for money -- anything she can give would be appreciated
- A woman and her small child (wearing brand new Nikes, I should mention) who sit in our hallway with a sign and a cup and ask my mom for money every time she walks by "please to help feed child"
- 1 MTA employee who hides somewhere in our house and no matter how many times she's found she is still "on break"
- 2000 cops with guns who don't even notice she's there
- A crew filming a commercial in the middle of our house, forcing my mother to have to GO OUTSIDE in order to cross from the kitchen to the living room
- A flash mob
- A zillion angry New Yorkers with backpacks and briefcases and suitcases and iPhones running around our house, bumping into my mother every way she turns, and then knocking her down onto the ground while muttering "I hate this f*cking city" or while screaming "Get the hell out of the way!!!!!!! F*cking tourists."