This past weekend, we went down to New York with another family: a dad, a mom and two teenage girls.
The dad has been my husband's best friend since they were in sixth grade or so. The mom is also a good friend, who won me over early on. She came to a New Year's Eve party and met her then boyfriend's (now husband's) friends for the first time. When she excused herself to go to the powder room, she said "Okay, you can all talk about me now."
After so many years, I feel as though the two girls are an extra set of nieces. One is about a year and a half older than my daughter. The other, about six months younger. With the oldest of the three girls graduating in just a couple of months, we figured this might be their last trip together.
The weekend was a success by anyone's measure. We walked all over Manhattan, had fantastic food, saw a wonderful Broadway show. Rather than reserve multiple hotel rooms, we rented a two-bedroom apartment on the Upper Westside. Each adult couple had their own room. The three girls crashed together on fold-out couches in the combination living/dining room.
An important proviso as we looked for and found a place was — of course — WiFi. I didn't actually stop and count, but between the seven of us, we had six smart phones and at least four laptops. When we weren't seeing the sights or painting the town red, the girls were online. In fact, even when we were, in theory, seeing and painting, the girls were online. It was not uncommon to see one or two or all three of them texting while we walked down the street.
I'd like to think that they were narrating a travelogue of sorts, that they were keeping their less fortunate friends abreast of their adventures.
Did they write about the High Line or Chelsea Markets? Greenwich Village or the 9/11 Memorial?
Um, probably not.
Did they tell their BFFs back home about the rat sightings in the subways (two of them, I'm sorry to report)? Did they take and share pictures of Central Park's Great Lawn, the Delacorte Theatre, Belvedere Castle, Bethesda Fountain, the Mall or the Carousel?
I doubt it.
Did they talk about Fifth Avenue's annual Easter Bonnet Parade? Or meeting the lead actor in a hit new musical? Or seeing the real Times Square ball? Any of the important stuff we did?
Truth is, most of the texts I've encountered over the past few years have been strikingly unimportant. Sure, there's the occasional homework question or "whose-mom-can-pick-us-up-after-the-movie" logistic. But, most of the time, texts seem fairly random, quite succinct, and abysmally misspelled.
Granted, I'm not the target audience.
Nevertheless, it seemed a shame to me that any of the girls would miss even a single shop window, architectural element or colorful character. I would also have liked to hear them talk more amongst themselves. Then again, they certainly yucked it up each evening after the parents went to bed.
And, who knows, maybe some of the texts they were texting were being texted to each other.
It could happen.
If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my new book Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.