If you’re bouncing around parties and bars, stop by a bodega and grab a $0.99 bag of trail mix. It’ll give you energy and some protein, and the iron’s good if you scrape your knee or cut your hand.
Do not go to any event that advertises any activity conducted “like a rockstar,” be it “drinking,” “partying,” or “social media strategizing.” This is one of the most abused similes in recent memory, and because of this its current meaning implies the opposite of its original definition. (See also “classy,” “fancy.”)
You’re allowed to say things are “insane” in your first year in New York. (“Did you see that subway musician playing Radiohead on the didgeridoo? It was insane!”) Unless you’ve moved here straight from Las Vegas or Burning Man, chances are the novelty of so many New York-centric experiences will register as completely batshit. You’re not wrong.
But at some point you have to adjust. One breakdancing ten year old is nuts; a dozen of them is ho-hum. The unexpected has its own constancy in NYC, and it’s best to raise your standards for what is actually surprising. If you’ve been here for five years and you’re still describing things as “insane” or “totally crazy,” you might have anterograde amnesia.
Your cell phone will continuously search for a signal when you’re underground; this drains the battery. Instead, switch it to Airplane Mode when hopping on the subway. This is especially handy when you’re low on juice.
Navigating the subway stairs is much like Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. It’s chaotic, unwelcome to children, and an unnerving place to run into a wild-eyed Mel Gibson.
As such there no hard and fast rules of etiquette. Instead, I recommend the following strategies.
- If somebody is blocking the entrance by talking on a cell phone, their rudeness is best treated in kind. Lightly brush against the person as you descend or ascend the stairs, letting him or her know of your presence. (Cell phones destabilize situational awareness, effectively muting background noise; people will not register your proximity until you’re in their line of sight.)
- The exits work just like the streets and the sidewalks: stick to the right. Pass on the left.
- Assist parents with strollers. It will probably be the only heavy lifting you do outside of the gym.
- It’s no secret New Yorkers walk a lot. We burn through footwear at an alarming rate; most people wear thick-soled boots, sneakers, and heels. (Or they buy flats every three weeks.) This makes for quieter walking in general: twenty-five people can sluice a subway exit with the hush of a Catholic mass. Unfortunately, this means it’s difficult to hear people behind you, which affects your egress in all sorts of subtle ways—I forego scaling the empty left side of the staircase if I sense the person behind me is eager to bound up two steps at a time. So it’s helpful to have something on your person that generates a bit of noise (car keys, loose change, jangling bag or purse buckles). Next time you’re in a hurry, you’ll be thankful people hear you coming.
Don’t go to a restaurant just because it’s busy. And don’t avoid a restaurant just because it’s empty.
Submitted by my friend Brian:
The PR person is not into you. Sorry. Yes, the PR person is being very, very nice to you, and yes, this person is quite attractive. And hey, your joke just got a laugh! But the PR person is not into you. The PR person is just doing his/her job.
Don’t brunch outside of your neighborhood. It’s not worth braving the myriad MTA Service Advisories on a Sunday morning.
And if you find a brunch spot you like, go there all the time. Make it a weekly ritual. Bring a magazine or the paper and drink endless cups of coffee.
Don’t make any plans for January 1st. If you did New Year’s Eve right, you should be too tired and hungover for anything more than Netflix and Thai food delivered to your doorstep.
The city’s full of celebrities. Chances are you’ll see one on the street or at the café; leave them alone. Thankfully there is an easy way to brag about your proximity to glamour, if you should so desire.
When someone brings up a famous person, offhandedly mention you met him at a dinner party, cocktail lounge, or charity benefit. Then quickly dismiss this person as a jerk/tightwad/social malefactor. Nothing feigns verisimilitude like disparagement—whole gossip magazines thrive on this—and 90% of the time people will believe you: “Oh, Wes Anderson? Interesting story, I met him for like 30 seconds at my friend Sierra’s loft in the West Village. He kept looking over my shoulder the whole time, like he couldn’t wait to escape the room and go somewhere more interesting. Rude, right?”
Or: “Julia Stiles? So I’m at this charity thing in Williamsburg, this is right when she was getting back into theatre, and she’s talking so loudly. I’m across the bar and I can hear her. And then an hour later she makes the DJ turn the music down so she can sing ‘Angel of the Morning’ to her friends. Really fucking annoying.”
Use this strategy wisely; it can backfire. Your audience might respond: “I know Julia, and she’s not like that at all.” Of course, this person might be onto you, and playing an advanced version of this same game. In which case just keep escalating the lies: “Yeah, maybe you know her now, but she was a monster back in 2009. She also broke a champagne flute and passed off the blame to this old guy standing next to her.”
NB: My friend Josh suggests employing nicknames to indicate friendship with such notables. You’ve probably seen this already. For instance, every actor that has ever starred alongside Robert DeNiro calls him “Bobby DeNiro” or “Bobby D” in the DVD extras. Again, use this sparingly.