Monday, August 9, 2010

Ten Totally Terrific Tips for Surviving NYC

  1. Assume every public surface has been urinated on. By a human. Sure, having an extensive public transit system is great for staying out late drinking with buddies. It's like always having a taxi waiting for you. Except it might take an hour and a half to get to your place. And it might not stop at your place late at night. So when you've been waiting on a lonely platform for 20 minutes, wishing you'd hit the head one more time before you left, think about all the people before you who thought the same thing. And weren't raised by your mom, so they dropped trou and hosed the area around them. Also, homeless people just piss anywhere, all the time. This all ties in nicely with...

  2. Know your public bathroom locations. Starbucks. Borders. Barnes & Noble. The mall at Columbus Circle. Libraries. These are godsends. And, not coincidentally, bathrooms/showers/bedrooms/rumpus rooms for homeless people. It's OK though. If they were clean and sane enough to make it this far into the building, they're not the bad kind of homeless. But do yourself a favor and avoid park bathrooms. Unless you're George Michael. In which case, hi! I love the Faith album!

  3. If you're ordering out for Mexican and a Chinese person answers, just hang up. I learned this the hard way. The Chinese apparently think guacamole should be mostly tomatoes, and gray. I do not know how they achieved this color, but achieve it they did. And my chips came in a little wonton wrapper, which was cute, but they tasted suspiciously of General Tso. I would say that if you're ordering Chinese and a Mexican person answers, hang up too, but this never happens. I guess they're not as ambitious and/or full of hubris regarding their cuisine imitation skills.

  4. Don't get too attached to a grocery item. If you find something you like at a store, you will eventually buy it all and they will never restock it. I've personally bought out Target's stock of generic Golden Puffs cereal, Duane Reade's stock of Doc Brown's Diet Black Cherry soda, and a local grocery store's stock of Sunkist dates. It is, apparently, completely beyond their ability to ever obtain these items again.

  5. You will get ripped off. Of course you will. It's NYC. But who's ripping you off in your head now? No doubt cabbies, guys selling purses on the street, hot dog vendors charging $4 for water. Sure, that could happen. Guess who else you have to watch out for? Veterinarians. Optometrists. After completely wiping out my cat's digestive fauna with unnecessary antibiotics, this quack vet told me over the phone that he'd need prescription cat food the rest of his life. I switched him from Meow Mix to Iams and he's doing fine. My wife just got contacts, which, surprise, do not help her see better. If I ever need surgery, I'll be crossing the border to Connecticut. If your own mother comes to visit you, she'll probably start scamming you for bingo money as soon as her plane lands. Because all moms love bingo, right?

  6. Think about where you're standing. Is it really the best place you could choose to be right now? Perhaps you're in a doorway, or a subway turnstile, or a crime scene. Think of the sidewalks of the city as a circulatory system. When you stand still in the middle of that system, you're blocking flow. Stand there too long, and the pinky finger of the city will die and fall off. By this rationale, you might think Times Square would be the heart, and therefore a place you really shouldn't block, but New Yorkers consider it, um, farther south. We don't care if you stand still in a turd because it's already dead to us.

  7. Do not look at the Sex Offender Registry website for your neighborhood, unless you're prepared for the result. Look, it's a densely populated city. It's not as divided by class as you might assume. And apparently sexual assault knows no class boundaries anyway. So I recommend hanging on to a completely false sense of security. Let the nice old man in 4G stay the nice old man in 4G, and not the weird old man in 4G who got arrested in '94 for fondling a Tickle Me Elmo on the ferris wheel in the Times Square Toys R Us.

  8. Prices ALWAYS vary in Manhattan. You need to start reading the fine print in commercials. Ooh, that $10 all-you-can-eat shrimp and lobster special at Red Lobster sounds great, right? Oops, it's $45 here. I paid $15 for chicken fingers at TGI Friday's, and they were actually worse than the chicken fingers you'd pay $7 for in Tennessee. Hot water for tea? $4. Your soul? $2.50.

  9. Awesome free things left on the sidewalk are not free. The price is that of being slowly drained of your blood as you sleep. Bedbugs are everywhere. Unless the item is 100% plastic or glass or some other non-porous material, just assume it is literally filled with bedbugs and get away. No, I know that framed picture of Justin Bieber would look ironically sweet next to your shelf of David Foster Wallace books, but bedbugs reproduce when the male stabs the female in the abdomen and sprays DNA into her, hoping a connection is made, and right now that's happening behind Bieber's eyes. I assume in real life as well as in the poster.

  10. Yes, a cat lives in this diner. Yes, that violates all kinds of codes. Don't make a big deal of it. We all see it. It's cute, and it keeps mice away, and even though it just walked on your omelette, these owners are first generation Greek and really nice so just be cool, OK? And I know it's hard to hear me saying this over the dogs barking, but I think the owners got robbed last week so it's just a little protection. I know, yes, there's pee on the floor, but that's actually mine. The line at Starbucks was too long.