Today my kids and I stumbled upon the Jekyll and Hyde Club, a haunted restaurant in Times Square with live entertainment and special effects. There's all this weird stuff on the outside that lured my boys in: skeletons, creepy lettering, and an old phone booth. Ella was a bit reserved, thinking it was an actual social club for mad scientists. Then I spotted 3 middle-aged women walking out with doggie bags, and she knew it was going to be ok. It was.
We walked up the stairs and were greeted by a waitress named Crystal. Salt of the earth. So kind and welcoming. With her southern accent she asked what brought us to NY. She was shocked that we were locals. I suspect tourists supply most of the action at this place. Even though we had no intentions of eating anything, she smiled and told us to take a look around.
It was around 2pm and the restaurant was practically empty. Only three other parties were in the massive space. My kids walked from booth to booth checking out all the displays: siamese twin girls with curly hair sitting on a fancy chair, a statue of Zeus spinning circles, and a scuba diver getting eaten by a shark. It felt like the haunted mansion at Disney World, until one of the statues came alive. It was a doll holding a knife with a creepy voice that said, "Ossscaar, is that you? I've been waiting for you!" He totally freaked. The doll continued using information she gathered unbeknown to us. The doll ended by saying she was going to hide under their beds tonight. "See you at 12am!" Then her head spun around to show a gory face and she turned off. My kids giggled with delight. We needed to order food to have an excuse to stay longer.
I knew right away this wasn't going to be the type of restaurant you go to for the food. The menu has typical American fare. Which is fine and expected for this part of town. We played it safe and ordered a chicken Caesar salad and a cheese burger with fries. I'm baffled when I read the Yelp reviews of this place and people complain about the food. Really? I wish people reviewing could know the difference between a place you go for the food and a place you go for the experience. It seems so obvious to me. That said, my cheese burger was good. The fries were good. The salad was fine. But it didn't matter! This place had so much more going for it than the food.
You know the doll who personally talked to my kids? It didn't end there. They got personal conversations with a shrunken head, a giant elephant, a mad scientist, an explorer guy, and just about everything else in the restaurant. I lost count after awhile. We were in the presence of people passionate about their jobs. They committed 100% to their characters. I wanted to speak to the managers and praise them in their hiring efforts. I don't know where they found these people, but I was blown away. There was really no reason for them to be giving us so much attention. Not just us, they kept everyone in the restaurant smiling and laughing. With so few costumers, you would think the actors wouldn't care. But they worked that restaurant as if it was filled to capacity. There was even a Frankenstein inspired stage production!
It was such a fun and unexpected afternoon in the city. The blood and guts, the spiders, the secret bathrooms. It was all kitschy and great. And while my kids are probably having nightmares as I write this, I go to bed with my heart filled. My love for humanity grew a little more after an afternoon at the Jekyll and Hyde Club.
The only way I clean my house (shown above) or exercise or do any other hateful thing is if I listen to an audio book. It makes me feel like I'm not wasting my life away. Here's a list for 2015 inspired by an email I got from Strand Books. All are either written by a woman or about women. Sometimes both.
1. A book that intimidates me: The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged
2. A book I've lied about reading: The Scarlet Letter
3. A Short Story Collection: Best of Women's Short Stories
4. Read a book before the movie: Wild
5. A book over 100 years old: The Awakening
6. A debut novel: The Edible Woman
Strand made an extended list, but this should get me started. I already finished listening to Wild. Loved it. Now I just have to watch the movie. I especially like that it's starring my daughter's doppelgänger.