Despite living about 14 miles from New York City, I had yet to visit since I’ve moved to college. Once we realized that we had literally nothing better to do as part of our fall break, the gang (Me, my roommate Sean, Matt, my suitemate Sean and his girlfriend Jenna) decided to hop on a train the next day and head into the city.
Before the day started, I had my own agenda of stuff I what I wanted to do in the city, highlighted by going to John’s Pizza for lunch and my first trip to the New Era Flagship Store. None of us wanted to wake up that early to catch a train, so we decided it would be easier to have breakfast in our small town of South Orange. My roommate Sean, being from Georgia, is always going on about a place called the Waffle House that is so popular down there. To humor him, we picked a small place called the “Grid Iron Waffle Shop” just a block from the train station. Since we were a party of 5, we got the entire back room to ourselves. I knew I was going to eat a lot to John’s Pizza later in the day, so I tried to be healthy and get a waffle with a bunch of fruit on it.
The best way to describe it was food porn; it was beautifully presented, and just as good as it tasted. It was genuinely the best breakfast I have ever had. All the fruit was fresh, the waffle perfectly cooked, and drenched in the perfect amount of honey. It was the perfect way to start the day, and now we have a new favorite place to go for breakfast.
After our delicious breakfast, we boarded the train without any fanfare, and arrived at New York Penn Station. Mathematically, it made more sense for us to go to Downtown New York, to the MLB Fan Cave and the New Era Flagship Store first, since we just ate and it would save us a late day subway trip. For some reason, my roommate Sean was very insistent to not to do the logical thing and we went to Times Square first. We quickly found out why: one of his female friends from Atlanta was at the M&M Store in Times Square. Once we knew that a girl was involved, we overlooked his lack of logic, which any good roommate would do. Sean left with the girl and her sister shortly after to meet at Starbucks while we visited the Disney and Toys R’ Us stores like the adults we are. The Disney store is to Jenna like the New Era store is too me; it was tailor-made for her, with a beaming smile on her face the entire time. If our hunger didn’t force us to seek refuge in a restaurant, I have no doubt we could have spent hours in there, just being nostalgic about our respective childhoods.
Despite knowing that we were going to the New Era store later that day, I none the less had to stop in LIDS. To give myself some credit, I only stopped in one of the four that we passed, which I consider an accomplishment. Matt, who is the only one in the group who understands the passion I have for hats, generous bought me an early Christmas gift in the form of a 50th anniversary San Francisco Giants cap, knowing that was another team I needed to help complete my collection. I absolutely love how they have the white trim around this particular logo, as many of the Giants caps no longer do that; good choice buddy.
The night before we went to New York, we had our school’s pizza for dinner due to there being legitimately no other place on campus to eat. I am morally opposed to eating pizza from a school cafeteria and considering it “good”, and I was determined to open their eyes. I’m sure everyone in the world claims they know “the World’s Best Pizza”, but I actually do. Its John’s Pizzeria on 44th Street, and it is absolutely amazing. I literally cannot describe the majesty of the senses that it induces in your mouth. My suitemate Sean was saying how it could not possibly be as good as I was describing, but I can genuinely say I have never been so happy for him to have been wrong. The worst part about this pizza is that it absolutely ruins any other (aka inferior) pizza for the next week or so. Am I being biased? Absolutely, but until someone can prove me wrong, I will stand by my opinion.
One of the things I sorely missed being away from home was the lack of a comic book shop. I was used to going to the comic store every week since I was about 7 when my dad took me every week, and it has genuinely been weird not having that as part of my routine. Thankfully the largest comic book store in the world, Midtown Comics, is located just two blocks from John’s. My suitemate Sean had been there once before, but the rest of them have never even set foot in a comic book store. Even though it was something they had absolutely no interest in, I appreciate that they took time to go with me. I learned that Jenna’s all time favorite movie is V for Vendetta, which was originally a graphic novel written by the great Alan Moore. Since her birthday was coming up in a few days, I bought it for her as an early present, for which she was very thankfully*. For years, I have been getting the Green Lantern comic every month, but since longtime writer Geoff Johns left the title, my interest waned considerably, and I was left looking for new titles. I have always liked Captain America, so I grabbed the first #1 issue with Cap on the cover that I could find, and a new title called “The Hunt” was right next to it, so I picked that up as well. As insignificant as they may seem, comics were a huge part of my childhood, and will always remind me of the strong bond I have with my father, so it was just nice to reconnect with one of my comforts from home.
A few days before we went into the city, my roommate Sean went there to meet one of his old friends from Atlanta (a separate one than the one we met), who also happened to be a very big Atlanta Braves fan, so they wanted to visit the MLB Fan Cave. For those of you who don’t know, the Fan Cave is a literal place in Downtown New York (right across from the New Era Store), where a group of selected “Superfans” watch literally every single baseball game. The last time Sean was there, they got to take pictures with the actual World Series trophy that would be presented to the winner this year. What we didn’t know was that the tours were on weekends only, and we couldn’t even get in. It was a pretty big disappointment, since it was quite far out-of-the-way from the rest of the city.
To me, the New Era Store was the grand prize of the day; I had never been there before, and I would be lying if I said that wasn’t my real reason for wanting to go into the city in the first place. No one else had too much interest in seeing my wander around the store, looking for the perfect hat, but I couldn’t be happier to have such great friends who understand how much going there meant to me. This is a cap collector’s version of a pilgrimage.
When we finally got there, I can only imagine the look of awe I had on my face. I’ve spent a lot of time at LIDS stores in my lifetime, but they truly made this a whole different experience. Not only were there more caps than I have ever seen in my life, they all treated with the perfect amount of care each one deserves. Unlike LIDS where they just put them all in a pile and let you look around trying to find your size, they only display one of each cap, with the mount it is attached to sliding out to reveal the sizes. It may seem insignificant, but it gave the entire store a much cleaner and more modern look. The amount of respect they show to and for their product is something about the company that will always keep me coming back.
While I seriously considered for a long time getting the retro silver “T” Blue Jays cap I had trouble finding online, I decided on showing my loyalty to the company that I love so dearly, buying a New Era branded cap and shirt, allowing me to truly wear my allegiance. I honestly considered blowing my wallet up and buying everything my heart desired, but between my friends wanting to kill me for dragging them this far out-of-the-way and the time to catch the train quickly approaching, I made my purchases, and we finally headed home.
The subway from downtown New York dropped us off right at Penn Station, and virtually as soon as we stepped foot off the subway, we heard “All Aboard the Train ‘A’ to Summit”, which was the one we were taking home. If we missed that we were stuck there at least hour, and at this point in the day no one had enough patience to deal with that. You know the scenes in movies when people rush though everything and everyone to catch their train? I can now say from personal experience that it is an accurate description of what happens in that situation. We rushed down the stairs to the platform, with poor little Jenna carrying everyone’s bags, and we barely caught it in time to get home. I have never been happier to have a long train ride, as we all needed a break from the consistent walking that took place all day.
In spite of Jenna spitting out consistent threats to my well-being for dragging them so far our of way, which I admittedly deserved, I had a truly wonderful day from beginning to end, and I have the cap to prove it. The real heroes are my friends who put up with me the entire way, and I cannot thank you all enough for a day I will never forget. I promise next time we go to New York, I will have absolutely nothing to do with the planning.
*As of the posting of this article, Jenna finished reading V for Vendetta and absolutely loved it, finishing it within a week. Gives me a good idea of what to get her for Christmas.