Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New York Lexicon Definition 6: Astoraphobia

Astoraphobia (noun)

  • The sense of disorientation and anxiety that a New Yorker, accustomed to shopping in tiny corner bodegas, feels upon entering a large, brightly lit Walmart Supercenter

Not to be confused with Astoriaphobia, which is an unnatural fear of a quaint neighborhood in Queens.

Friday, March 19, 2010

New York Lexicon Definition 5: Stingikin

Stingikin (noun)

  • The single pathetic, tissue-thin, sorry-excuse-for-a napkin that New York restaurants sometimes give their take out customers. These "napkins" disintegrate prior to any actual contact with skin.
An unlimited supply of napkins is not the norm in the city, and for anything beyond the stingikin, one must beg, plead, and glance desperately at spilled drink, chocolate-covered face, or other applicable mess.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

You Are Not Alone

It is easy, and perhaps necessary, in New York to inoculate yourself against the ever present crush of humanity around you. Privacy is an illusion, and if you wait until you are really and truly alone to have "private" conversations or let your guard down or cry, etc, well, you will never have the opportunity. So New Yorkers have made an unspoken deal with one another: If I encounter you in a situation where your humanity can not be glossed over... if you're weeping unconsolably or talking about your sex life on your cell phone... if you're putting on your makeup on the subway or laughing out loud at a passage you've just read on your Kindle... I will look through you and pretend I didn't see it. It's not unkind or uncaring. No, it's the opposite. It's a peculiar sort of respect. It's recognizing that we live in close quarters, and we're human, and we experience things in those close quarters that aren't always pretty to behold. Don't get me wrong: If someone is truly and obviously in trouble, and a fellow New Yorker can help, they will. I'm talking about the smaller things. The things that we kinda wish we didn't have to show other people, but we've got no choice because of this beautiful, overcrowded urbanity in which we find ourselves.



Just because you hold your one hand in front of your face doesn't mean I can't see you picking your nose for days on end with the other. I can see it. I see you picking your nose. Please, please stop. I can't pretend about this one.

Monday, March 08, 2010

I Went to Brooklyn Today

I often smile when I think of the way West Michiganders (over)react to sunny days. You see, the combination of winds over Lake Michigan and the state's northern latitude leave West Michigan with more than its fair share of overcast, gray days. Native dwellers learn early that if one is fortunate enough to encounter sunshine, one simply must go outdoors and quickly absorb some vitamin D. Staying indoors on a sunny day is almost a crime. "Better go outside now," one might think. "You don't know when the sun will come out again!" It reminds me of a Ray Bradbury story called, "All Summer in a Day," in which humans inhabit a planet where summer only comes for one day once every 17 years, and good grief do those people go crazy with excitement when the sun comes out.

This urge to be outside every time the sun shines poses a problem for West Michiganders who move to, say, Florida. Or the Southwest. Hard to be productive when you're outside all the time.

Anyway, today was one of those glorious days when there was nary a cloud in the sky, and I could feel my West Michigan sun-greed impulse in full effect. I decided to explore Brooklyn, a borough I've not yet had the opportunity to know well. I'm so glad I did, because not only did I see quaint neighborhoods, brownstones, Prospect Park, and antique shops, but I also saw signs like this:

Sunday, March 07, 2010

New York Lexicon Definition 4: Peenomenon

Peenomenon (noun)

  • The numerous ways in which a New Yorker encounters urine on a daily basis. Examples include frozen dog pee slicks on the winter sidewalks or sizzling dog pee puddles on the sidewalks in the summer, the unmistakable fragrance in the subways, and the odd sequence of listening to your neighbors' restroom activities through thin bathroom walls prior to ever meeting them face to face.
And good grief, let's not forget the part of the peenomenon which actually included me being peed on by that guy in the telephone booth. Or rather, I wish I COULD forget.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Po-tay-toe, Pa-tah-toe?

You say "health food store," I say "wine shop."

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

New York Lexicon Definition 3: Roadgawk

Roadgawk (noun)

  • What a tourist becomes when he/she stops abruptly in the middle of the sidewalk to take in the sights, blocking the flow of pedestrian traffic.
I crashed into a tourist roadgawk at the top of the subway steps.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

New York Lexicon Definition 2: Faux'l

Faux'l (noun; contraction of "faux" + "cool")

  • The deluded sense of "I'm cool" that descends upon one while wandering the streets of Soho, as if one could absorb all the cool that emanates from the stores there.
I felt faux'l this morning while I walked home from Soho, thinking I might be cool even though I was wearing Old Navy jeans.

Take a Deep Breath, Now.

We're almost there.

Monday, March 01, 2010

New York Lexicon Definition 1: Sadisticab

Sadisticab (noun)

  • The taxi driver who takes evil delight in repeatedly pressing and releasing the accelerator, resulting in instantaneous motion sickness for all passengers.
Sadly, there is no way to differentiate between a sadisticab and a less malicious cab. Ride at your own risk.