A Hater’s Guide to New York

by E.L. 

New York Times Square

Image via Wikicommons

 There are some things you should keep in mind if you plan to visit the City.

What city, you may ask. Of course, it is exactly that attitude which betrays your embarrassing lack of cosmopolitan vision, and this is what you are coming to the City to correct.

You must first remember that there is no place for your bumpkinish awe at grand architecture. So don’t look up. If your eye strays above shoulder-level – better yet, above the pavement directly in front of your feet – you will look like such a tourist. Do everything in your power to hide this fact from real New Yorkers.

The best way to fool the natives is to go to Time Square and complain loudly about how much you hate tourists. And when you return to whatever sorry township you came from, you will carry this newfound disdain for the uninitiated home with you alongside your mostly-empty Metro card.

There is literally no destination that does not require you to wait in line. But the good news is that when you finally get in to whatever miserable hole of a dive pizza joint (alternatively, whatever New American swoop of artisanal foam) you’ve decided on, you will feel like you’ve really earned it. It’s as if the city is hazing you. Perhaps this is why natives love New York so much – some sort of post-hazing over-identification.

It’s called Stockholm Syndrome in kidnapping situations.

(Have you considered that you might not even need to go to New York to get the New York experience? I can make you a YouTube playlist of all the location shots from When Harry Met Sally and Manhattan for you to watch on your phone while you blithely ignore traffic signals.

I’m not saying don’t go, I’m just suggesting that the actual city is basically a middling Woody Allen impression. And wasn’t Woody Allen’s best work 35 years ago, anyway?)

There are bagels there. You may have heard that these are the only bagels worth the name. I can’t confirm or deny that. But if you’re going anyway, even after my YouTube playlist, you might as well try one.

You will notice that New Yorkers don’t make eye contact. Don’t take this personally. It’s simply a charming local superstition that the fleeting-est of glances into another human’s eyes will bring one’s alienated soul into contact with another and produce a brief but profound moment of empathy that threatens to lay bare the yawning loneliness of a life led among eight and a half million strangers.

Central Park is a thing, I guess. It’s really quite pleasant if you like golf course landscaping.

(If you’re in the market for seething masses of disgruntled people and overpriced food, have you considered your closest theme park? Everyone at Disney World is a tourist, so you’d fit right in! Just like Time Square only without all the New Yorkers there to hiss at you. Just think about it is all I’m saying.)

Discovering New York is like learning a new lover, so be patient and go slow. You’ll probably get used to the smell and if you’re careful you won’t catch a disease.

Definitely definitely go. Definitely go and don’t come back. Surrender your hayseed heart to the Big Apple. Don’t you read The New Yorker? Haven’t you seen Rent? It’s just like that. New York isn’t a place, it’s a state of mind. New York is the Spirit of Christmas – if you keep it in your heart, even in the Midwest you’re a New Yorker for life.

Seriously, I think you should just stay home and watch Manhattan.

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