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I Spent 14.5 Hours In Times Square Because I'm A Fucking Idiot

Everyone told me not to do it... I didn't listen.

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Hello there! My name is Matt, and like most people who live or work in New York City, I hate Times Square. However, I'm constantly baffled/intrigued by the hordes of tourists who flock to the well-lit hell, so I came up with an idea... And just to warn you, most of my ideas are bad.


Nearly 60 million people are projected to visit Times Square in 2016 — 13 blocks of billboards, generic Irish bars, chain restaurants, and stores you can find in any mall — which makes it one of the most-trafficked tourist attractions in the world.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

Seriously, people come from ALL OVER THE PLANET to see Times Square, while New Yorkers avoid it like the plague. Every time I'm forced to make my way through the endless mass of fanny pack–strapped tourists toting selfie sticks, street performers doing backflips, and people dressed in grimy Sesame Street costumes, I want to bathe in Purell.

But tourists don't seem to feel the same way — they flock there like flies to a streetlight. Tourists LOVE Times Square, and seem to love it more and more every year. I understand the appeal of seeing a Broadway play, but eating dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and paying for a picture with the Naked Cowboy makes my brain explode.

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I woke up late and sweaty, stared at the ceiling, did laundry, watched Netflix, didn't fold said laundry, and then took the wrong subway to Rockefeller Center instead of Times Square. My brain was trying to abort, and I had the anxiety of someone who knew they were making a mistake, but drove past the last U-turn miles ago.

My original idea was to spend 24 hours in Times Square, but BuzzFeed and my girlfriend shot down that idea because of safety and mental health concerns. So I told everyone I was spending eight to ten hours in this hell — but I lied. I planned on staying there as long as my eyes stayed open and my legs could prop me up.

Like I said — I specialize in bad ideas.

As soon as I got to Times Square I purchased the cheapest and most obnoxious "I <3 New York" shirt I could find — bright pink with the ironed-on letters already wilting away.


After trying to sneakily take pictures of the Naked Cowboy and those people on stilts dressed like the Statue of Liberty, I sat on the stairs and contemplated what I'm doing with my life.


It was approaching lunchtime, and I'll admit it wasn't easy to choose between Applebee's, TGI Friday's, Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesday, Hard Rock Café, Chevy's, Dave & Buster's, or Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., but Red Lobster was calling my name.

So I ordered the Ultimate Feast, which includes garlic shrimp, breaded shrimp, a lobster tail, crab legs, and broccoli, to keep you honest. I proceeded to spend THREE HOURS in Red Lobster.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

Yeah, three fucking hours. I asked the bartender to put on the Mets game, and I juiced up my cell phone while I crushed my feast. I wanted to soak in the atmosphere, which was interesting, to say the least.

The crowd was a mix of solo business lunches, informal meetings, friends catching up, tourists, a few regulars, and a group of four who were allergic to shellfish.

As I eavesdropped on my neighbors talking about their sex addiction, polygamy, love, and failed marriages, I almost forgot I was in Times Square. The Red Lobster had a casino effect — where I had no idea what time of day it was and I didn't really care.

It wasn't really in my budget to see a Broadway show, so I decided to stroll down 42nd Street and hit the next best thing: that place with the creepy wax figures of celebrities, Madame Tussauds!


I found myself apologizing for bumping into wax figures of celebrities who look like they died, were embalmed, and propped up for our viewing pleasure.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

Now, the figures are impressively lifelike, the employees were enthusiastic and kind — but I just want to make it incredibly clear that this place creeped me the fuck out. Kids are hopped up on too much sugar. There are zero windows. People make wax molds of their hands as souvenirs. I felt incredibly strange taking all of these selfies.

By the time I got back out into the not-so-fresh air, the after-work crowd had mixed with tourists to make sidewalks nearly impassable.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

Before walking 5 feet, I was told to repent my sins to Jesus and was handed a flyer to Cheetahs strip club.

If there is one haven in Times Square, it just might be Strand's pop-up stand. They're doing the Lord's work by providing a tiny respite from this hell.


As I sat and watched five Elmos and the world's creepiest version of Heath Ledger's Joker from The Dark Knight, I seriously contemplated going home early.


Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

Apparently multiple businesses (T-Mobile and American Eagle) offer the ability to put your face on one of Times Square's iconic billboards. And I gotta admit: This was legitimately awesome. I didn't know what to do with my hands — or my face for that matter — but it genuinely made me laugh when my picture popped up.

After the sun set, I knew there was more to explore and more misery to I entered the land of endless and pointless souvenirs.


Keychains, T-shirts, coffee mugs, license plates, underwear, jackets, shoes, posters, garbage bins, luggage, mirrors, jerseys, hats — it was endless.

Around 9 p.m. I knew it was time for my second chain-restaurant meal of the day, and after momentarily considering doubling down on seafood and going to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., I stumbled on Buffalo Wild Wings and I'm happy I did.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

Not only did they have an outlet conveniently located at the bar, but it's ALL-NIGHT HAPPY HOUR on Wednesdays! Coors Light was only $3 a glass. It was a minor miracle. I watched the Mets lose for the second time that day as the replay was on one of the trillion-inch flat-screen TVs. Chain restaurants for life!

By 11 p.m., Times Square was about twice as crowded as it was 12 hours earlier. The stairs were almost too crowded to comfortably relax and digest my wings, so I started walking in circles around the hellscape.

This day had revolved around where I could charge my phone and where I was going to pee next.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

I initially went to Señor Frog's to grab a beer and soak in the party atmosphere, but after I got past its Fort Knox-level front door security and made my way downstairs, I found myself in a dark, cavernous room blaring Eminem's "I'm the Real Slim Shady" with — at the most — 15 other people. I immediately used the bathroom and left.

And I took another obnoxious time-lapse video in the middle of a crosswalk.

Instagram: @mjkiebus

By 1 a.m., the stairs — my stairs — were closed, but people were still milling about. My girlfriend had been telling me to come home for hours, and my stubbornness was wearing down.


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