With 12 countries and 28 states (if you count Mississippi as a ‘state’) under my belt I have done a fair amount of traveling, but had not made it to New York until this weekend.
“I’ve seen every Sex and the City episode multiple times, so it’s kind of like I’ve been here before. Do you know where Carrie lives?” I asked our airport shuttle driver, who didn’t acknowledge I was speaking to him. “I tell ya, if I see that Petrovsky, well, I’m just going to give him a piece of my mind! What a scoundrel!”
I went with my book club friends on our annual trip. They have each visited several times, and it was evident I was a newbie despite their coaching and futile attempts to help me blend in. However, this weekend I learned a lot about how not to look like a tourist in NYC, and wanted to share my findings with the hope that it might give you a head start on your next trip to the Big Apple.
1. Pretend like you are the only person in the world, despite the fact that living in the epicenter of the universe was a choice made of your own free will. Become exasperated when reminded you are not, in fact, the only person in the world. Do not under any circumstances pause and take a moment to breathe in the architectural wonder which surrounds you. Insert headphones to assure any potential human interaction will be thwarted. Walk with aggravated purpose – pretend like your identity was stolen and you were just informed the perp has been apprehended and awaits you on the next block. They also found your Mom’s wedding ring in his pocket. Now hurry up and get him, slow poke!
2. Abandon all regard for human life, yours or otherwise. Once when Nick and I were in Mexico we were super late for our flight. We told our taxi driver what time we had to be at the airport and he just laughed and said it was impossible. I gave him twenty pesos and told him there was twenty more waiting for him if we made it. I know now that amounted to only about four dollars, which made what comes next even more terrifying. Five seconds in I was positive we were going to die. Running red lights, speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, gravity forcing our heads back into the seats, fighting the urge to barf all over each other.
Somehow, we made it. Once I regained consciousness I kissed the ground. New York City taxi drivers are exactly like that Mexican driver, but after he snorts a line of cocaine and plunges an adrenaline syringe into his neck. I saw so many brushes with death involving public transportation that eventually I just had to adopt the mantra, “welp… we’re all gonna die sometime” as a coping mechanism. The only time I wasn’t completely freaking out was when we were on a 50-passenger tour bus. Although it was obvious our driver was there on a Kamikaze mission, the best thing about being the biggest is that your mistake is someone else’s problem.
3. Wear whatever you want, as long as it it is black.
My green coat is bioluminescent, and it was the best thing to happen to my friends. I walked in the front and any time anyone was lost they simply looked for my beacon of light, a reassuring glow among a sea of neutrality. I don’t know what the obsession is with wearing black, but I do know that Sex and the City would have been a very different show if the girls dressed true to form.
4. Pretend like it shouldn’t be illegal to charge $15 for a drink. Or spend $375 on a pair of shorts. Like, normal black shorts that I could probably buy at the Gap for 20 bucks. Because, lord almighty, nobody bats an eye around you when they check out price tags and they sure as heck don’t want to hear your lecture about how many gallons of gas that dress would buy you back in Missouri.
5. Don’t freak out when you see a celebrity. I saw Bill Nighy getting into his car, and, as I am sure you would do if in the same situation, jumped in front of his vehicle and began singing, I feel it in my fingers… I feel it in my toes… Christmas is all around us… He smiled and waved and was very nice, but I was shocked that more people didn’t join in, or even notice an actual major actor was mere feet away. Also, don’t ask people if they know where you can find “Jenny from the block”. Apparently she’s not there any more.
I must say, it is quite a city. In four days we walked the High Line, visited ground zero, Times Square, Washington Square, rode the Staten Island Ferry at night (and got an up close breathtaking view of the Statue of Liberty), shopped the Chelsea Market, saw a Broadway show, strolled through Central Park and ate, ate, and ate. I can’t wait to go back, and finally tell that Petrovsky what I think about him.