Monday, July 15, 2013

A Surprise In The Park

Ed planned a surprise for me.  And kept it to himself for two days.  Even though I endlessly nagged him to tell me what it was.

"I'm not telling you." he said.

Three hours later I'd say, "So, what's the plan for tomorrow?" hoping he'd slip up and tell me.  He just smiled.

"Well, I'm not going." I declared.  "Not unless I know what it is.  I don't like surprises."

"What you mean you're not going?  And what do you mean you don't like surprises??  Everybody likes surprises." He said.

Then, "You'll like it, I promise."

"Well, what is it?"  I said. 

"Don't worry about it."
"OK, you do know the list of things I like is very short, right?"  I said.  "I mean, like there's maybe three things I like doing, especially in this kind of weather."

Then he told me it was an hour away by train.  WHAT???  I couldn't sleep the night before.  I was stressing out. 

Then he told me we had to bike part of the way.  Before we spent an hour on the train.  WHAT?? 

Seriously, he's been with me for more than nine years.  He can't possibly be planning a surprise that involved biking in ninety-degree weather, to go somewhere by train for an hour and think I'm going to like it.  WHAT was this friggin' plan??  I couldn't stand not knowing.  But he wouldn't budge.  He wouldn't give me the slightest hint.  He wouldn't even tell me what time it started.  Only, "After dinner." 

We were parked at the port in Newark, New Jersey so that was our starting point.  And since I had no idea where we were going, I had to follow Ed.  About a mile and a half ride from the truck is where we started the first leg of our journey, waiting for the bus.
We put our bikes on the front rack of the bus and sat up front watching them through the window as we weaved through the congested city streets to Newark’s Penn Station.  We'd never taken our bikes on a bus or train before, but the train station seemed a little more complicated.  Once we found out from the information desk exactly what to do, getting the ticket and getting on the train couldn't have been easier.

They have different rules for bikes at different times of the day, which is to be expected since they're packed during the rush hour commute, but since it was late in the day on Sunday, we had no problem finding space for us and the bikes.  In fact, we had our own little section of the train car.  I know people have been doing this for years, but this is a whole new experience for me - both bike riding and taking public transportation.  It's just not something I've ever done. 
We spent an hour on the train, heading south to Raritan, NJ.  I still had no idea where we were going, just that we'd get off the train at the Raritan station - the end of the line - and then bike about three miles to the final destination.

On the way to the surprise, we stopped and had meatball parmigiana sandwiches at Enrico's Pizza and Pasta in Somerville.  I was starving and the humidity was taking its toll.  I needed food and air-conditioning.  The only two things that sustain me in life.

The restaurant was halfway to our destination so we didn't have far to go.  Ed said we were almost there.  I didn't even know where "there" was until we rode into Duke Island Park in Bridgewater, NJ and I saw the band shell.  We were at an outdoor concert!  On the grass.  Under the sky. 
And the band that was playing was Louis Prima Jr. and the Witnesses.  Louis Prima, Jr.!

I don't know how Ed finds this stuff, and I didn't even know a junior existed, but it turns out he's the only son of
Louis Prima, the singer of music I love and grew up listening to.

Louis Prima Jr.'s mother is Gia Maione Prima who was the vocalist that replaced Keely Smith, the woman most often associated with Louis Prima's music.  They were so great together.  I listen to his music often - I have tons of his songs on my iPhone and love how peppy and totally swing it is.  It's toe-tapping, for sure.     
His band features Sarah Spiegel as the female vocalist and they came all the way from Las Vegas, where they regularly perform.  Prima Jr.'s voice sounded similar to his fathers, but the thing that made it different to me was that he seemed to enunciate the words of the songs more than his father did.  Louis Prima had a slurry, gravelly, New Orleans kind of drawl, with a little Sicilian flavor thrown in.  I kinda couldn't believe I was in the presence of someone who shared blood with the King of Sing, Sing, SingTotally my kind of thing. 
This trumpet that he's playing in this next photo belonged to his father.  He said it was over sixty years old and getting a bit worn out and that when this tour was over he was retiring it, putting it in some sort of display box in remembrance of his dad.  

Ed and I were both surprised that there wasn't anyone dancing at the concert.  I know if my mother and step-father were there, they'd be cutting a patch of grass beneath their feet.  It's impossible not to move to these songs.
When the concert was over, we rode the three miles back to town, stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for a late night latte and donut, and then headed over to the train station to get ourselves back to Newark.  The train was due to arrive at 10:19 pm.

We got back to Jersey's Penn Station about an hour later and although this photo makes it appear as if the place were deserted, Ed and I couldn't believe how many people were out and about taking trains at that late hour.  Our next stop was the bus back to the port.
We arrived back at the truck at midnight, sweaty and exhausted from our ride.  Well, I was sweaty and exhausted, Ed was just sweaty.  I was thrilled that the truck was ice cold.  We took showers, put fresh sheets on the bed and hit the sack.

Overall, the surprise was great.  As my friend put it, Ed really IS a romantic.  And he's been that way since we first met.  He's a great gift giver, always thinks about what will make me happy, and he planned a surprise around a music event he knew I would like.

I also discovered he'll go to great lengths not to ruin a surprise.

And all I had to do was ride a bike.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2012: A Little Red Water Never Killed Anyone
2011: Instantly Sexy
2010: Natural Light In Waterloo
2009: So, What Brings You To My Neck Of The Blogospher?
2008: Eternity Is Going To Be SO. MUCH. FUN.
2007: I’ve Been Everywhere Sunday
2006: That Eddie Guy
2005: Pee Bum Head


june in florida said...

Glad you had such a great day.

june in florida said...

Ed is so thoughtful.Now what will you come up with to surprise him?

Kevin Moriarity said...

What a great story. I'm not letting MY wife read this post - Ed sets the bar pretty darn high for the rest of us! :-)

Gil said...

Love how Ed found this for you. He sure is pretty thoughtful. You mentioned that you never used public transportation. Is that because you moved out of da'Bronx to Orange County at a young age? Kevin sure is right when he says: "Ed sets the bar pretty damn high..."!

MAE said...

Your Eddie is the best gift-giver I his style...

Belledog said...

What a great trip.

The bike rails to trails would have been plenty, and then Louis Prima Jr. appears.

Score 10 Ed.