There are few cities more deserving of the description “cosmopolitan” than New York (Manhattan, specifically). Why, wasn’t it Sex and the City, which was based here in Manhattan, that popularized the drink of that same name? In a nominal sense, the adjective “cosmopolitan” is meant to represent a person or place that has “…worldwide rather than limited or provincial scope or bearing” or “…wide international sophistication,” or is “composed of persons, constituents, or elements from all or many parts of the world.” Certainly, New York fits those descriptions. In my opinion, there is no other city in the U.S. where you can eat whatever you’ve ever craved, drink whatever has ever tickled your fancy, or do whatever you could have ever imagined doing (to be fair, I haven’t spent a great deal of time in Chicago or Los Angeles - to name just two competitors). New York can offer you every cuisine, every form of the arts and humanities, every professional sport, and much, much more. It may be lacking in the nature department – unless, of course, you find Central Park, the High Line, and other outdoor areas to be sufficient – but it provides easy access by plane, train, bus, or boat to many nearby areas that couldn’t feel less urban and yet are no more than an hour away.
However, the above may represent a superficial examination of how “cosmopolitan” New York truly is – one that a visitor or newcomer might make. Once you spend more time here in the city, you realize that it doesn’t actually offer everything for everyone and, frankly, isn’t always as “ahead of the curve” as one would expect it to be. I love living here, don’t get me wrong, and I very much appreciate all that New York has to offer, even when I am forced to “accept” many of its “quirks” (please read a friend’s hilarious description of the real estate scene, for example). Still though, there are moments where I just cannot understand why things are the way they are here. As such, I’d like to detail some of my “What the fuck, New York?” moments. This list is constantly growing and thus is by no means comprehensive, but I just felt it prudent to point out some of these things now as a way of (A) ranting and keeping myself from murdering someone when they happen and (B) letting others considering moving here know about some of the city’s drawbacks (not including the rodents, bed bugs, and general filthiness):
1) Why does it take 200 years for taxi receipts to print? The speed at which this rather pithy receipt is printed leads me to believe that inside of the “printer” is actually a tiny little elf pounding out letters on a miniature typewriter. Every time I have to ask for a receipt, I literally feel my anxiety level increase ten-fold.
2) Why doesn’t Seamless let me input my own tip amount on my order right down to the exact penny I’d like to give? This is not a New York-specific problem, but given that Seamless was founded and is headquarted here, I’ll make it one. Really, I don’t want to be forced to give someone $2.00 or $2.25. I want to be able to give $2.13, for example. When I use Seamless at work, this is a particularly annoying drawback. I often have to give the delivery man $0.25 less in tip to meet my $25.00 cut off when I’m actually only $0.02 over the limit.
3) Why is there no wireless internet access on the subway? I know the MTA is trying to roll this out, but really, I can’t understand how it’s taking so long. Most of the subways aren’t even that far underground. By the time they get WiFi access in the subways, the world will probably have moved on to some other internet connectivity technology, like tiny satellites implanted in our brains.
4) Why is the city becoming so stingy with taxi medallions? Once upon a time, I could get a taxi anywhere, anytime. Except maybe in the rain. Now, it can be 7:30pm on Friday in Murray Hill and I’ll be standing on the street corner looking like I’m hooking for a solid 10 minutes. Often times, I have to walk all the way to First Avenue in order to catch a taxi coming into the city from Queens.
5) Why can’t I find more “unhealthy” foods? Yes, I get it, everyone in New York has a mild to severe eating disorder. Stores practically don’t stock any sizes above a 6. I mean, really, New York is a great place to shop if you’re skinny because stores probably have extra stock in your size – as opposed to in other cities, where it’s a one-and-done king of deal in sizes 0-4. In any case, sometimes, I just want to buy a frozen pie. Or Hostess snack cakes. And if I want to do that, I more or less have to leave Manhattan and go to another borough.
6) Why can’t I drink before noon on Sundays? Sure, I’ll admit that New York’s liquor laws aren’t terrible (unless, of course, you compare them to the laws in my wonderful home state of Louisiana), but that puts many brunch-goers in an awkward position. If you want to have brunch at a real brunch time, let’s say 11:00 or 11:30, instead of at a hungover, half-the-day-is-already gone time, you’ll be at least halfway through your meal before you can get your mimosa (or, as I like to order, champagne with a splash of orange juice).
7) Why are there so many Irish bars? I just can’t understand why there aren’t more chill hang out spots or sports bars that don’t have a “Mc__” or “O’__” in the name. I know there was a pretty strong Irish immigrant presence in New York back in the day – but, in those times, the Irish neighborhoods were not centered around modern-day Midtown. So why is there a dearth of non-Irish bars around my home and office?
8) Why are there so few good, middle-of-the-road boutiques? I don’t get to go shopping as much as I would like, but from what shopping I have done, I’d have to say that there is an unacceptably large gap in price and quality in the spectrum of boutiques here. Of course, you have your extremely high-end designer stores – both mainstream and “up and coming.” Then, you have the cheesy boutiques that carry no-name clothing that’s barely a notch above Forever 21 quality. I need a boutique with a selection of brands like Yumi Kim, Parker, Equipment, mason by Michelle Mason, Milly, Rory Beca, and the like – somewhere that I can find cute going-out and date dresses/outfits that I won’t be bankrupted by or ashamed of in two months. Bloomingdales or the 5th Floor at Saks can usually do the trick, but those stores are just too big and make me feel overwhelmed (especially when perfume salespeople literally chase me down and spray crap on me).
Despite these gripes, I have no problem admitting how happy I am to be living in New York. I wholeheartedly believe that there is no better city in which one can learn to be a “real adult.” So, if I have to spend an extra 25 seconds in a cab or wait until 1:00pm to have brunch, well then that’s OK. Maybe not forever, but certainly for a while longer.
I actually hope that more people make the choice to put up with the oftentimes ridiculousness of Manhattan - the overpriced rent, the surly people, the hyper-trendy restaurant and bar scene - to reap the rewards of living here. So much so, in fact, that I hope my future daughter (if I’m so lucky) chooses to come here, too. And then I can crash on her couch, go shopping, eat delicious food, and so forth. Ha, who am I kidding. I’m staying at a hotel.