When I lived in Philadelphia, I met an alarming number of people who were convinced that “Sex and the City” was a realistic portrayal of life in New York.
And so to all those who think I spend my days walking the beat in Manolo Blahniks, drinking cosmos and lunching on weekdays with my BFFs, I present to you a real typical day in New York.
Your alarm goes off in the small apartment you pay for with 75 percent of your salary. You are already awake and completely exhausted, having been unable to sleep due to the garbage trucks that made their way up Broadway at intervals reminiscent of the Chinese water torture. In the shower, you lather up and then realize too late that the building turned the water off at 9 am sharp for “necessary repairs.” You did not know, until that moment, that water could break. Thankfully, you’re able to get some of the shower gel off using a bottle of Poland Spring and a plant sprayer, which is not at all awkward and does not at all flood your bathroom.
Even though you’ve spent thousands trying to keep up with the (Samantha) Joneses, you have nothing to wear and end up hating your outfit. You head out feeling absolutely revolting, as you weren’t able to wash your hair and your skin is covered in a soapy film that’s causing severe pruritus. The good news is that you wore your new, high-heeled sandals to perk up the outfit you hate. The bad news is that it starts to pour on your way to the subway and you didn’t bring an umbrella. The new sandals, previously quite beautiful, are quickly ruined, and so slippery that you trip – but do not fall – on a crack in the pavement. No one asks if you are okay. Your foot lands in something you pray is DOG shit.
You have to swipe your wet MetroCard three times before it’s accepted. At the exact moment you walk through the turnstile, the train pulls away. But that’s okay – the platform makes an incredibly comfortable waiting area. There’s absolutely no air, your iPod is dead, a not-so-faint hint of pee lingers in the mist and a talented Mariachi band is giving a free concert.
Twenty minutes later, the next downtown train arrives, so packed that riders have their faces smushed up against the petri dish windows. You’re able to contort yourself into one of the cars, joined by the Mariachi band, but there is even less air inside and the 75-year-old man in glittered tights and a red Speedo just caressed one of your ass cheeks. Halfway between 50th and 42nd Streets, the lights go out and the train stops. You’re about to panic, but then you hear this reassuring message from Charlie Brown’s teacher over the loudspeaker.
“MWAH MWAH MWAH MWAH MWAH MWAH MWAH.”
After what seems like a smelly eternity, you are moving again. You sigh in relief as you approach your stop, 23rd Street, but the train flies by and doesn’t stop again until 14th Street. Apparently, the MTA has decided this particular train will make express stops only, but didn’t see any reason to inform the passengers.
You are now absurdly late. You race up and down two flights of stairs to get on an uptown train, pretty sure you’re going to pass out. You don’t, but you do come alarmingly close to puking from the sight and stench of the hairy-chinned homeless woman who sits down right next to you even though there are empty seats aplenty.
At last you arrive at 23rd Street, in desperate need of coffee. It is no longer raining, but the line at Dunkin Donuts is insane. Naturally, the person right in front of you is picking 64 Munchkins one by one and asking probing questions as she goes along.
What part of CHOCOLATE FROSTED do you not understand?! Is jelly filling SUCH a difficult concept to grasp?! And for the love of GOD, just accept that the Boston Kreme Munchkin is a figment of your imagination. No, they did not have it last week.
You do eventually leave with your iced beverage, but you’ve been trapped in there so long that another downpour is in progress. You run into the bodega next door and buy the last flimsy umbrella, which costs $12 and will be completely broken within five minutes. Just as you are about to drop everything you’re toting, you see that a douchebag you once dated, liked and got harshly dissed by is fast approaching. You dodge him, but there’s no chance he didn’t see you in all your drowned rat glory. There’s also no chance he did see your engagement ring, as it is obscured by the iced coffee, so you have no choice but to assume he assumes you are still pining for him 10 years later.
When you arrive at your office, there is a gaggle of hipsters smoking a foot away from the door, but nary a one offers to open it for you. To get in, you are forced to hold your umbrella horizontally and place the iced coffee under your chin, only to spill it over the soaking wet white shirt you’re wearing. But that’s okay. It’s always nice when your boss and the publisher of an important trade magazine with whom you are scheduled to meet can see your underwears.
At last, you make it to your desk. You plan to send an email apologizing for being late, but there is no internet connection. Your colleagues can all get online just fine, but you can’t. The IT guy isn’t answering his phone, and you have no more coffee except what is staining your shirt. But you’re in New York, where you can order in Burmese food at 3 in the morning! Why not order a replacement coffee? You do, and a mere hour later you get it – even though you ordered it hot this time, it’s iced by this point and the half-and-half is sitting in curdled swirls at the camel-colored surface.
You are now officially the unwitting protagonist in the 2010 remake of the classic 1972 children’s book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” You curse the city. You wonder why you ever complained about living in the Midwest. You miss the ease of Arch Street in the City of Brotherly Love, where your commute was one block on foot and you could run home to use your own private bathroom any time you wanted. You don’t understand why your parents can’t retire to Florida like normal Jews of their vintage, giving you a warm, easy place to escape. You curse the city again and decide you are just going to sit at your desk forever, rather than go back out into concrete jungle.
But lunch is inevitable. When your internet is up and running, your inbox tells you that there are three fabulous sample sales within walking distance. On Twitter you see that the Treats Truck, Cupcake Stop and Joyride Truck are all parked a block or two away. “Law and Order” is filming across the street, so you catch glimpses of the tasty Jeremy Sisto and also pass by McSteamy and possibly John Mayer. You can replace your still-wet white top with a more stylie one from your choice of Intermix, BCBG, H&M, Old Navy, Anthropologie, Banana Republic, Gap, Club Monaco, Lucky, Ann Taylor and/or J.Crew. Right on the street, you can buy a $12 necklace to jazz it up and then pick up gourmet hot dogs, sushi, Mexican, Chinese, deli, pizza, Mediterranean, comfort food, French macaroons, Cuban, vegan, kosher, Halal, soup or a smoothie for lunch. You can hear 10 different languages on your way back to the office. You can walk to the Metropolitan Pavilion and audition to be an extra in the next “Men in Black” movie (if you’re shorter than 4’10” and are comfortable wearing vintage alien prosthetics).
In your fresh top and new jewels, you head back to your loft-like office space and catch a glimpse of the Empire State Building. Just as you are contentedly remembering why you came to the Big Apple 15 years ago and why you missed it so much when you were gone, a taxi hydroplanes through a muddy puddle, covering your lower half in urban crud. You can’t help but conjure a slightly dejected tutu-clad Carrie Bradshaw in the opening credits of “Sex and the City.”
Perhaps those Scrapple-lovin’ peeps in Philly are righter than you thought.