Subway Serenade

I was sitting alone, staring out the window. Two men boarded, sat on either side of me and the following happened:

Man 1: [singing] Ohh girl!

Man 2: [harmonizing] Pretty girl.

Me: [thinking] I’ll just ignore this…

(Still singing)

#1: I wanna hold—

#2: Your hand.

#1: I wanna be—

#2: Your man.

Me: (thinking) Maybe I can pretend I am deaf?

#1: Ooooohhhhaaaahhh, baaaabyyy…

#2: Daaaarrrlinnn’

Me: (thinking) Or pretend I don’t speak English?

(stopping the singing)

#1: Aw, man. She ain’t even looking at us.

#2: Naw, she’s in her own zone.

#1: And I’m trying to serenade her!

#2: I know. I know. 

Me: (thinking) Maybe a non-English speaking, deaf person?!

#1: Dude. She look like she’s been having a long day.

#2: Yeah, maybe her puppy died or something.

Me: *losses my composure and busts a gut laughing* 

#1: She is alive. Shit! Are we on the wrong train?

Man 1 and Man 2 run off. I share a “what the hell was that?” look with fellow passengers.

The 6 Superfluous Idiosyncrasies of New Yorkers

I have lived in the great city of New York, New York for some time now. While I had visited the city many, many times before I came and stayed there are certain things I know now living here that I hadn’t ever picked up while simply visiting.

One of these things is the New York accent, which up until now I thought was a myth. I had never heard it, or at least not paid attention to it previously. Their accent has to be one of the most annoying, awful accents in the world.

But accents are not what I want to talk about, I want to talk about the weird little habits New Yorkers have that I, as a transplant from the fabled Midwest, think are totally batty and absurd. You cannot escape these habits, and if you try to go against them you are instantly singled out and called to confirm that “No, I’m not from here

1. Straws
New Yorkers all drink from straws. Straws in soda cans, straws in milk boxes, Starbucks cups, 20 oz. bottles, fruit juice, lemonade….etc. This all reverts back to the dirty little secret that NY’ers are prissy little things. Oh, have your mouth touch the glass? Don’t even mention it. Heck, don’t even consider it. I’ve tried to drink my Coke out of a straw, and I down about 3 cans a-day when I’m in good form, so I’ve had a ton of practice. I just can’t do it. It makes it too fizzy, it gives me a tummy-ache, I feel like a prat four-year-old who doesn’t know how to drink from a Big Girl Cup.  The only thing straws are good for is chewing. Gnawing. I’m a straw chewer. It’s crippling.

2. Beverage Sweat and Napkins
I grew up in Indiana. If you aren’t aware, Indiana is humid. Beverages sometimes “sweat” when something scientific happens that involves the word “condensation” and water drips down the side of your can/glass/bottle. It’s a fact of life. It just happens. (Well, it didn’t in Idaho… which was really weird). New York is rather humid too and their beverages perspire as well; this is something that the locals cannot tolerate. To counteract the Wet Hand Syndrome they wrap their cool drinks in napkins. Every time I buy a drink it has been handed to me wrapped in a napkin. Apparently touching any part of your drink’s container is going to kill you (see: straws). Yes, the napkins absorb the moisture BUT it looks so hideous, you cannot effectively communicate to bystanders where you stand in the Pepsi/Coke debate, and the napkin half-dissolves and turns into a gooey blob that is hugging your drink. I’d rather have Wet Hand Syndrome. (Unless you’re holding hands, in that case AVOID WHS!)

3. Umbrellas
I hadn’t seen rain for 3.5 years before I moved here. I was in Idaho. When it “rains” in Idaho it actually snows little pellets of slush. Even in the middle of August. If you can wrap your head around that then you’re a genius. If not, here is a picture:

Anyway… point being, I never carried an umbrella. Even in the fabled Midwest I never used one. I’m a Romantic. I like to FEEL the rain, I like to have little splatters on my clothes. Sadly, this sentiment does not fly in the Big Apple. One must carry an umbrella at all times. Even on sunny days. Also, the umbrella must be a golf umbrella, be at height higher than the owner’s hip and come in a ostentatious, collapsable cover to combat water droplets from flying off and the umbrella from drying. Usually I just sit on the subway thinking “Damn, I’m cold and damp… wouldn’t a purse-sized umbrella be better for this city?”

4. Bags
Everyone in New York must have whatever they purchased double and triple bagged at all times. Failing to do so would result in a National crisis. Being ecofriendly a Minimalist I am disturbed by a New Yorkers obsession with baggage. Being a barista let me just illustrate this for you. Say a customer buys a pastry, the pastry is put into a little pastry bag. Usually, that is when I’ll hand it over to the customer with a smile and some BS’ed customer service. “I need a bag” they say. Wha-? It’s IN a bag. No, the customer needs it in another one, so that they can carry it. Fine, I put the pastry bag into a bakery bag (basically a paper lunch bag). “Oh… do you have a bag with handles?” This is usually where I look at them like they’re insane. “I have to carry it to my table.” TO. THEIR. TABLE. They want a bag, within a bag, within a bag.


The only time I actually used a bag it was a disaster. It was 4:30 a.m. (Barista hours!) and I stopped at a deli to get some cornbread and butter. It was all wrapped up for me in tinfoil and placed into a paper bag. I figured I’d just roll with it because they’d also packed up my bananas and chocolate milk (I’m really 5 years old) as well. I went on my merry way and was caught in a torrential downpour (see: Umbrellas). Since paper and water hate each other (See: Napkins) my bag disintegrated and all of my breakfast goods spilled out into the street. All I was left clutching was the rolled up bit in my hands. (And yeah, I ate it anyway.)  Since then I’ve stuck to my tried and true system of shoving everything into my massive, empty purse. Leather doesn’t dissolve.

5. I See You, but I’m Pretending that I Don’t See You
New York is a highly un-private place. No matter where you are, what you’re doing, you’re being watched. But you are not really being watched. That is what the people who are watching you WANT you to think. This pasttime is largely put into practice on the subways where you are crammed in next to someone who you really would rather not smell. No matter where you look you are looking at SOMEONE and hoping that they, in turn, don’t find you looking at them. I read books over shoulders, get involved in love-triangle text messages and see a whole lot of skin in places that I really do not want to. In turn my fellow New Yorkers have allowed me to have a panic attack in peace (er, kind of) on a train, so I’m all for the selective privacy.

6. Folding Pizza in Half
I don’t get it. I don’t do it*. I eat pizza with a fork and knife. I asked someone in a pizza shop why the folded their pizza and he said “So the toppings won’t fall off.”

Pardon? I’ve never had toppings fall off of my pizza unless it’s super hot (which is usually isn’t since I like it cold) or if I drop the pizza.

I just looked at the man incredulously and said “Just buy a calzone.” He turned away and refused to make eye contact for the rest of our time spent in the pizza shop together.

(Chicago pizza > New York pizza!)

*EDIT: As of February 10, 2012 I fold my pizza. It happened.