Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New York: Like a Kick in the Balls, But the Museums are Excellent

Brooke and I often talk about if/when we will move back to New York. The conversation is usually an emotional roller coaster. There’s laughing, crying, protestations, accusations, rage, even make-up sex (because why not?). In the end, we cautiously agree to disagree: Brooke knows in her heart of hearts that she loves New York and will be together with it again some day; I know that love is a tricky thing and sometimes a whore like Miami makes a great bedfellow.

Then I go and do something stupid like take a weekend trip to New York. I always said when I lived in New York that I couldn’t imagine going on a vacation in Manhattan, because the city really isn’t meant to be experienced in small doses, because in all likelihood those doses will poison you. No, the city is meant to be taken in over a long period of time, like Iocane powder, so you have ample time to build up an immunity to it. In other words, New York isn’t a one-night stand – and if you try to treat it like one, it’ll likely fuck you. (Wait, hold on . . .)

Luckily I am a trained New Yorker. So when New York throws all the malfeasant tricks in the book at me, I don’t get discourages. Instead, I see them for what they are: surreptitious love notes, aimed directly at my heart.


At face value, this is one of the largest inconveniences the city can throw at you. Unless you live there and have ample time to decipher the often incomprehensible Changes of Service notifications, you’re bound to be blindsided. Like when I took the train in from visiting my parents on Long Island and upon arriving at Penn Station discovered that the A line wasn’t running. Although me and many of the people around me didn’t know that until a helpful janitor came walking down the platform screaming in a very grumpy manor, “Ain’t no A train tonight! Stops running at 11.” When someone pointed out that it was 10:45 he laughed and said, “Not down here it isn’t,” as though we were in a Lethal Weapon movie.

Actually, rerouted subways are New York’s way of forcing you to stop and smell the roses. “What, you want to get off one train and get right on another?” it might say. “Why not rest, read a magazine, and enjoy the curious odor.” Plus who doesn’t love sweating?

Old apartments

At face value, the only thing worse than trying to find an apartment in New York is every subsequent month when you look around your tiny, crumbling third-floor walk-up (built circa 1920) and then write out a check for $1,800 in rent. I once had a guy come to fix the heat at one of my past apartments and after studying the radiator for five minutes he stood up and said, “Wow, they don’t make ‘em like this anymore!” I smiled because I thought it was a compliment implying that everything constructed in yesteryears is more well-built. Then we kind of just looked at each other and he was like, “No, really. They don’t make these anymore. I don’t know how to fix it.”

Actually, old apartments are charming and imbue residents with a sense of historical significance – a place in time, if you will. So when I woke up on Saturday morning and went out to get Brooke and I coffee, and came back balancing the two cups on top of each other and proceeded to get into such an epic struggle with the lock on the front door of the apartment building (if I had to give instructions on how to use it, I would say, “put the key in, then pull the handle so far towards you that it looks like it is about to come flying off, then gently turn,”) that the top coffee spilled all over my shirt, kind of burning me, well all I could think was, “I bet the same thing happened to someone in 1948!”

Cramped living quarters

At face value, living in an apartment the size of an Applebee’s bathroom is soul crushing. You convince yourself that you have all the space you really need, and then you take your bed out of the closet, blow it up, and go to sleep.

Actually, this is New York’s way of fostering your more resourceful side. Like Carrie Bradshaw keeping shoes in the oven, which I always thought was a bit much because hasn’t she ever seen the Container Store? Never in all the years of watching ex-girlfriends watching the show did I see Carrie utilize a convenient under-the-bed storage container. Personally, I think she was just trying to be quirky – but the reality is that many New Yorkers are forced to get creative with their storage, like in the apartment I was staying in which has a shelf perched high above the bathroom door where all the towels are kept and you kind of have to stand on the toilet to get a towel, and sometimes when you pull one down a little candle jar falls, hits you on the head, and then breaks on the floor. This is New York’s way of saying that no one really needs candles anyway, at least not in this economy.

Dead bird on fire escape

At face value, a dead bird flattened out on a window screen resting on your fire escape is disgusting, not to mention mind boggling. How does something like that even happen? The best I can come up with is that the bird flew at a great speed into the screen, plastering itself into it with such cartoon force that the person living in the adjacent apartment could not remove the bird from the screen. So they just took it out and left it on the fire escape. But unless the bird was hopped up on something, I don’t see it achieving the necessary velocity to literally flatten itself.

Actually, a dead bird on the fire escape is just disgusting.

Shoddy apartment construction

At face value, shoddy construction just completes the trifecta of awfulness when it comes to old, cramped apartments. Although you have to hand it to builders – they tried. Like with the double hanging windows common on most walk-up apartment buildings, where you can literally fold in both portions of the window in order to clean the other side. Ingenious! Except when it’s broken. Then when you simply try to open the window, it shoots up and out towards you like a coiled spring and comes off its hinge so that the window, in some metaphysical conundrum, nearly falls out the window.

Actually, New York makes you work for it, thus building up deep reserves of things like gumption and moxie. So while people in places like Kansas take a cross breeze for granted, opening a window for you is a test of conviction. How much do you want it? Enough to risk everything, including losing the window forever? This way, making big choices (like life support and organ donation) are a breeze.*

* Except for where to live. Because some questions have no easy answers.


Blogger Natasha said...

If Miami is a whore and NY is a one night stand. What does that make LA? Kansas City?

June 17, 2009 at 5:25:00 PM EDT  
Blogger headbang8 said...

What's "moxie"?

June 17, 2009 at 5:55:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jeff said...

What is the key moment when you go from "someone who just moved to new york" to a "New Yorker"?

June 18, 2009 at 7:20:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice Princess Bride reference.

June 18, 2009 at 10:47:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

p.s. Jeff, VERY good question. Dan, blog about that next.

June 18, 2009 at 10:47:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Nicole said...

Dan, you're not fooling anybody (except maybe yourself), you totally love and miss NY. She's like the cranky wife that you just didn't realize how much you loved until you started seeing the blonde bimbo with huge tits. The blonde bimbo is fun for a little bit, until you realize that those things aren't real. The cranky wife is as real as it gets.

June 18, 2009 at 1:23:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Fiona said...

crap, now I've gone all sentimental.

June 19, 2009 at 7:21:00 PM EDT  

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