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Why Do We Need All Those Lights?

Broadway show billboards at the corner of 7th ...
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Why do we need all those lights, my 12 year old niece asked as we walked towards Times Square. Frankly, I didn’t have a ready answer.

Like most people who live in New York City and have family and friends everywhere, I’ve come to accept that from time to time, someone will be asking to use my fouton.

This past weekend, it was my sister. Her 12 year old, Justin Bieber-crazed only child told her that she wanted to spend part of her spring break in the city. Most of her friends had gone away for spring break as well.

I took the morning off yesterday to shepherd them from Grand Central to Times Square and parts in between.

It was eye opening to see how excited she got at things that I have become inured to.

Like when she screamed, Rachel Ray! I thought she had seen the television host. She hadn’t. All she had seen was the awning over the back entrance to Rachel Ray’s studios. I’d noticed people standing on line but I’d completely missed the glaring orange RR logo and had forgotten that her studio was there. Just seeing the name had made my niece so excited, she was smiling from ear to ear. Of course we had to take a picture for her.

I should have halted the tour there and head for one of the television studios. She did ask where Good Morning America was taped but we had a few more places to go and reservations to keep.

Klieg lights, dollys, booms poles and rolls of wires seemed to sprout out of the sidewalk near the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 28th Street, leaving a path just wide enough for us to pass single file. When I mentioned, casually, that they had probably just finished filming, she came alive again, There must be a celebrity around! she gushed, eyes bulging with excitement. There was, indeed, a limo, and crew near one of its doors. But with no trailers or food trucks, I wasn’t sure. Auntie, can we go see who it is, pleease?

When did my niece become so label savvy and celebrity obsessed, I wondered. But I probably should have expected it. This is the same niece who speaks with me via Skype and has had a page on Facebook since she was about 10. Well, it’s actually my sister’s page but she’s the one who updates it and most of the friends are hers. My sister monitors the page and her usage.

Was I this crazy about anyone or anything when I was 12? Music, maybe. But I had no opportunity to get up close to any of the musicians I liked, so their music and my imagination were all I had.

As the lights in Times Square came into view, I was surprised, no, shocked when instead of saying how beautiful they were, she asked, with the innocence of a 4 year old, Why do we need all those lights?

It was so totally unexpected, I began laughing, partly because I couldn’t find a plausible answer at that moment and partly out of relief. There’s hope for her, I thought. Maybe this is just a phase that she’ll grow out of. Eventually.

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