1. People get overjoyed about the most objectively garbage living spaces. I’ve seen people brag about their $3,000/month, rat-infested East Village one bedroom, where the kitchen has the approximate dimensions of an airplane bathroom, and faces an air shaft. People have Stockholm syndrome about the real estate here, and have learned to reduce their expectations from ‘comfortable living situation’ to ‘dumpster with outlets.’
2. People who have no business living here choose to suffer for the cause. Nothing makes me cringe more than people who are living their NeW yOrK DrEaM at the expense of basic ability to maintain their life and feed themselves, and are working four jobs (including one creative one) to fund their windowless basement room in Bushwick. There are theatres in Chicago and LA, and basically everywhere else. Go live in a place that will enable you to survive with more dignity than a raccoon.
3. Nearly everything people brag about getting here, you can get in most major cities. Sometimes when you’re talking to a New Yorker, it feels like they think no restaurants, bars, or museums exist outside of a ten-mile radius from the Empire State Building. Like I don’t know if you realize, but you can go to a restaurant in Minneapolis, or a bar in Rome. And you’ll probably pay way less for a beer.
4. People act like junkies when it comes to new and exciting food. I am so tired of seeing fusions-of-fusions-of-avant-garde-reimagining of food. It’s like we’re all addicted to New and Interesting Ways Of Eating, and kept raising our tolerance until every bar in Williamsburg served cured-shark gravlax over pine crisps with a kimchi reduction.
5. People treat dating the way they treat ordering food. I’m not saying that this is unique to New York – I know that people do app dating everywhere – but good lord is it pronounced here, where people have as many options for their next date as they do their next order of Kung Pao chicken. I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve had with bored, vaguely despondent New Yorkers as they recall the dozen-or-so dating options they’re keeping simmering on the stove, none with any actual interest. And I met my boyfriend of nearly five years online, so I’m not averse to digital romance. But come on, at least put in more effort into the potential love of your life than you do the drunken Amazon cart you fill up after coming home from the bar.
6. $10 – $15 is considered an acceptable price range for cocktails. Unless it is made from top shelf liquor and champagne, and comes with a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies, no drink should be at that price point. And yet, that’s what people here are comfortable paying for a cocktail that is mostly fancy mixers, and takes approximately 10 minutes to put together. (I admit that the giant, fancy, square ice cubes do have a certain allure, but not a 14-dollar allure.)
7. 80 percent of the year is spent complaining about the weather. And don’t get me wrong – I don’t think these complaints are unnecessary, or unreasonable. I totally agree that New York City seems to get the absolute worst of the extreme seasons, punctuated by an admittedly gorgeous four-week period in spring and fall. It’s either summer, and the whole city feels like a concrete-lined sweat lodge, full of molten garbage and a humidity level of “beef stew.” Or it’s winter, and each row of skyscrapers forms its own little wind tunnel, where your eyelashes have the pleasure of freezing off within five minutes of leaving work. But damn Rockefeller Center looks pretty come Christmastime!
8. Everyone is super hyped up about all the amazing shit they can’t afford here. Yes, 90 percent of normal people in New York City can’t afford to go shopping in the West Village, or try any of the twenty-something Michelin-starred restaurants, or stay in any of the magnificent, storied hotels. No one can enjoy a Carrie Bradshaw lifestyle, or even a Miranda Hobbes one. Pretty much everything the media teaches you is ~fabulous~ about NYC is out of everyone’s price range. But people are totally content to get a contact high off of all the great stuff around them without ever being able to participate. Just walking past that amazing brunch spot with the four-hour wait is enough to motivate the New Yorker for their eight-hour shift at an Aldo.
9. The stuff they can afford – and brag about – New Yorkers never actually do. People will tell you all the time how much the ~art and culture~ here is so incredible and irreplaceable (which, okay, but you can go to most cities for that, as seen in point three), in the same breath that they tell you they have not been to the Met in five years, and have never seen an opera or ballet. They just like to know that all of this art and culture is available, waiting for the moment they will eventually choose to engage with it. They don’t have to actually enjoy it to feel smug about it.
10. Meanness becomes a default setting for everyone who lives here. Now, I should specify that I’ve only lived in two other major cities, so I am not an expert on how much city life hardens you to the world, and to your fellow human. But I can say with confidence that pretty much everyone I know who has lived in NYC and elsewhere agrees with me that this place is significant in how much of an asshole you become living here. You just live your life in a constant, simmering state of being pissed off at people, because they are getting in your way on the subway, in a coffee shop, or on the escalator at a department store because they’ve chosen to eat their entire Wetzel’s Pretzel between the sixth and seventh floor. Everyone knows that they’re in a masochistic relationship with NYC, but I would argue that they’re in an openly abusive relationship with the other ten million people who call this place home.
They say you’re not a New Yorker until you’ve lived here for 10 years, but I would argue that you’re not a New Yorker until you’ve learned to quietly resent every single person you cross on your daily commute.