Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wit and Wisdom of New Yorkers, Continued---Part III

Overheard in Manhattan, had I been there today:

----"Just because it's a deli doesn't make the food here delicious. Deli stands for delicatessen, not the word 'delicious'. There are a lot of second-rate delicatessens, even here in New York!"

----"Do you ever dread the day when your cousin from Ohio visits New York and asks you to define the term delicatessen? What scares me about it all is that I don't even have a book on the history of delicatessens, much less a book that defines what is a delicatessen. Maybe I should go on a book-buying spree here for books with titles such as, 'Answers to the 500 Most Frequently Asked Questions about New York City that Outsiders from Ohio Might Ask You During their Visit.' Then when my cousin asks me to define the term delicatessen, I'll reply with, 'The answer to that is very simple. You can find that answer on page 51 of this invaluable reference book about New York that I purchased in anticipation of your visit.'"

----"Do you ever get the impression that delicatessens were designed with pregnant women in mind? If you'll notice, all the delicatessens here in New York offer pickle slices to accompany their sandwiches. And from what I've heard, pregnant women are always hungry for pickles."

---"My friend Teresa stopped seeing her Manhattan psychotherapist after she got pregnant. She told me she could not bear any more questions from her psychologist about why she is hungering pickles during her pregnancy, and whether there might be a phallic and Freudian suggestiveness to her craving for pickles?"

----"My friend Paul has this annoying habit of only calling me when he is having a crisis. I told Paul the other day that I would prefer to be a fair-weather friend for him. I would welcome a joyous phone call from Paul in which he invites me to celebrate his good news with him at Four Seasons restaurant. It turns out that Paul has OTHER friends here whom he calls whenever he wants to celebrate. I am his designated crisis-only-phone-calls friend. So I told Paul that the next time he calls me to talk about his latest crisis, I'll charge him $10 a minute to offer my advice to him on the phone. Paul told me he was very surprised to hear me say that. He said he always assumed that I derived lots of vicariously sadistic pleasure from hearing about his latest period of trauma and despair and anger in his own life."

----"One of my biggest disappointments as a tourist here is that I cannot find a History of the Delicatessen Museum anywhere in this city. I had naively assumed that New York City would take pride in being the hub of the delicatessen scene for the entire United States, and would offer a first-rate museum highlighting that theme."

----"I'm always grateful for the New York restaurants I love the most that haven't appeared on the Food Channel yet. The minute they're publicized on the Food Channel on television, restaurants get flooded with customers and you have to wait forever just to get seated."

----"To me, speaking strictly as a New Yorker, the best thing about the cell phone era is that it gives me something to look at while I'm waiting to get seated inside Four Seasons restaurant. My cell phone gives me tons of reading material that keeps me occupied during my many waiting periods as a New Yorker."

----"Cell phones can be dangerous, particularly here in New York City. The background noise here makes it very difficult to hear the person I'm talking with, and that can cause lots of arguments over the cell phone. 'Why do you always ignore what I'm telling you?', my wife will scream from her end of the cell-phone line. Then when I explain to her that the crowds and cars around me are louder than usual that day, my wife gets even angrier. 'You always blame it on someone else, never admit that it's your fault you ignore what I'm saying to you!" she'll shout from her end of the phone line. 'Why don't you just admit, Harry, that you don't respect me, and this is why you PRETEND you don't hear what I'm saying to you?'"

----"Sure, I believe in intergenerational friendships. But that doesn't mean that I'm inclined to play a game of checkers with an 8-year-old friend. I don't do checkers anymore. I also don't do hide-and-go-seek anymore, and I don't do hopscotch anymore, either. Fortunately, I talked this over with my 8-year-old friend's mother, and she said it was perfectly fine for me to NOT do checkers, NOT do hide-and-go-seek, and NOT do hopscotch with her 8-year-old son when we get together for a shared outing."

----"I feel sorry for the elderly people here in New York. With all the hearing impairments that older people have, how can they possibly follow what their cell-phone conversation partner is telling them? Maybe they have a special high-volume cell phone that's specially designed for the elderly. But that could be embarrassing, since everyone standing near the senior citizen will overhear what that senior citizen's friend is saying."

----"Everyone asks me why I ever visit southern New Jersey, since I don't gamble. I always reply to that that there are some nice beaches in southern New Jersey, and I like to sunbathe and swim. There is life beyond the boardwalk, that's my very emphatic view of southern New Jersey!"

----"It doesn't surprise me to hear that there is actually a nationwide restaurant chain headquartered in New Jersey. I think it's very courageous of Mike to have established a chain of sandwich shops that actually promotes the state he's from. You generallly don't hear much in the way of New Jersey pride, so what he's done is quite impressive."

----"I think New Yorkers rely too much on New Jersey as a means for convincing ourselves that we're a superior state. We love to comment that the people of New Jersey all sufffer from an inferiority complex, implying that we New Yorkers all experience a superiority complex. New Jersey has always been the other half of the famous superior-inferior duality that we New Yorkers take pride in being part of. New Jersey, historically, has always been the yang to our yen."

----"My husband, Herb, says it's ironic that New Jersey has traditionally hosted the Miss America Beauty Pageant. We New Yorkers devote much of our lives to branding New Jersey as the ugly sister to New York State. To think of New Jersey in terms of physical beauty is inconceivable for most New Yorkers. So that one evening of each year is what Herb likes to call the Annual Anomaly Day in which New Jersey suddenly loses its Armpit of America status. And I'm not even sure that Herb would agree that New Jersey even qualifies as an ugly sister to New York. Herb would probably say that New Jersey is closer to being an ugly cousin, at most, since he would want to convey his emphatic outlook that New Jersey, despite is geographical promixity, is a DISTANT relative of New York."

----"If I were the owner of a restuarant here in Manhattan, I would insist on offering first-rate lighting in the lobby, and lots of interesting magazines to glance through in the lobby area. I would want all my customers to enjoy a good read while they're waiting to get seated."

----"I'm generally very agreeable when I dine out in a restaurant, but I always hate it when the hostess seats me at a dining table near the restroom. What that translates into here in Manhattan is that over the course of my meal I'm repeatedly observing a series of customers shouting at a dining companion of theirs, 'So why did it take you so long?' as the latter individual re-enters the dining area. I'm tempted to myself shout, 'Not everyone in New York defecates at that same rate of speed!', but I always remain silent since I value being polite. I do feel, though, that New Yorkers can be excessively critical of one another at times. This is one city where merely going to the restroom is regarded as an invitation for an instantaneous critique of one's performance there from someone who never even entered that restroom themselves. Why should they critique what they didn't directly see you doing inside the restroom?"

-----"If I owned a restaurant here in Manhattan, I would insist on providing everyone waiting in the lobby with recent reviews of each of our top dishes----reviews that had been written by customers as well as by a variety of restaurant critics. I would also provide everyone waiting in the lobby with booklets providing factual nutritional information about each of the ingredients in each of the 10 most-frequently-ordered dishes in my restaurant. I would want each customer to feel fully knowledgeable about each of the most noteworthy options on the menu before he orders. That way, he's more likely to be pleased with his dining experience."

----"Whenever I visit New York, I always wonder in the back of my mind whether Auntie Mame, one of the most famous ladies in the history of this city, ever committed statutory rape of any of the scantily clad boys she delighted in frolicking with. It would be interesting to find out whether her nephew Patrick Dennis, the guy who wrote that very popular book about Auntie Mame, was ever interviewed on the subject."

----"When anyone asks me which priest I recommend here in New York, I always reply that the best priest is the one who has the least physical contact with any member of his congregation. The minute I see a priest initiating a hug with anyone, I scratch that priest's name off my list. To me, a good priest is one who never hugs or grabs anyone, and who only shakes hands with anyone when there's a designated adult observer present to carefully monitor that handshake."

----"Personally, I feel that all the priests here in New York should be required to wear a modern counterpart to a chastity belt that's designed to prevent them from doing anything illicit. This would keep them focused on above-the-belt activities, which spares our beloved Catholic Church from another lawsuit risk."

----"Call me under-educated if you like, but whenever anyone refers to the Hudson River, all I can think of is Kate Hudson, that famous actress. But there's no way she could have lent her name to our famous river, since the Hudson River was named long before Kate Hudson was born. Maybe I should find the intellectual curiosity to read a Wikipedia entry about the Hudson River. But why should I be intellectually curious, when it's more glamorous to think of the Hudson River in terms of a famous Hollywood actress. Don't you agree?"

----"As a New Yorker, I cannot understand why we don't have any nationally-renowned prep school named the Hudson River School. Wouldn't that make a glorious name for a prep school here? But it seems that the movers and shakers here haven't agreed with me on that point."

----"Personally, I'm always expecting to find a 'Mouth of the Hudson River Literary Review' whenever I visit the newsstand here in New York. But it's unlikely that name would ever work here. A lot of people would get it confused with the 'Hudson Literary Review'."

----"Wouldn't it be grimly amusing to read a list of each and every man-made chemical that's currently found in the Hudson River here in New York City? I think that list should be displayed on an Environmental Crisis Awareness Plaque situated along the river right here in Manhattan. That might help to persuade more people to donate toward cleaning up the Hudson River."

-----"As a New Yorker, I'm alarmed by the millions of Americans who limit their interest in our city to two days of the year: New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. I would hope that even without a spectacular televised countdown festival or massive televised parade, Americans could still be intrigued by New York as a city. Call me naive, if you like, but I happen to think that New York on January 2 through December 30 is also a fascinating place."

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