Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wit and Wisdom of New Yorkers, Part IX

Had I remained in New York City ever since the mid-1980s, I feel very sure I would have oveheard the following comments by New Yorkers chatting with one another at public places:

---"My relationship with caraway seeds runs very deep. As a Jewish New Yorker, I always find it very special that the type of rye bread I eat is named after all the people of my ancestry. And the caraway seeds are a hallmark of Jewish Rye Bread. This reminds me that I need to find out who the nearest caraway-seed farmer is. I have no idea whether his farm is situated in upstate New York, New Jersey, or Pennsyvlania. The least I could do is send him a Channukah Card this Holiday Season, to show my appreciation for his fine contributions to production of Jewish Rye Bread. Without his caraway seeds, I shudder to think what Jewish Rye Bread would be like."

---"One solid  fact about myself is that I have eaten millions of caraway seeds in my life as a Jewish New Yorker. I do that just by eating Jewish Rye Bread. In fact, that's the only context in which I ever eat caraway seeds. I'm hoping that some medical research study will identify five significant health benefits, including increased medical longevity, from eating millions of caraway seeds during one's lifetime."

----"I find it curious that we refer to  Rye Bread as being Jewish, but we don't refer to any particular bagel as being Jewish. As a Jewish New Yorker, I would prefer to eat rye bagels with caraway seeds in them. For some reason, though, I don't seem to find Jewish Rye Bread-style bagels at the bakeries here where I shop."

---"Your cousin is so Jewish that when she got married, she insisted that they sprinkle caraway seeds instead of  rice on the wedding couple.  Brenda said that caraway seeds are very sentimental for her, since she remembers eating Jewish Rye Bread with caraway seeds on a year-round basis ever since she turned age 5."

---"Paul is such a health-foods fanatic that he insisted on having brown rice showered on himself and his bride at their wedding. Paul said he did not want to promote white rice at THEIR wedding ceremony, since white rice is much less healthy for you than brown rice is."

----"You would expect every true New Yorker to be someone who collects coins for a hobby that feature the Statue of Liberty design on them. Myself, though, I have yet to meet any New Yorker who has ever once told me that collecting Statue of Liberty coins is a hobby of his. Isn't that odd, when we have millions of people in this metro area and no one I've talked with has come up with that obvious idea for a hobby?"

---"I still have mixed emotions about the name change from LaGuardia Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Kennedy was assassinated. Mayor LaGuardia died of natural causes. When you're flying across the Atlantic Ocean in a commercial plane flight from New York City to London, you hate to think about anyone gettting shot down. I try to focus my mind on the famous book that John F. Kennedy wrote, 'Profiles in Courage,' instead of that tragic day in November of 1963 when President Kennedy got assassinated from taking part in a parade in Dallas."

---"My only problem with the sidewalk vendors here in New York is that there is nowhere to sit down after I buy a food item from their cart. I take pride in my table manners, but when there's no table it makes manners an impossibility for me. What usually happens is that I start to take a big bite out of the pretzel I just bought, only to have a smelly homeless person in ragged clothes bump into me. I immediately lose my appetite and then I'm trying to find a trash can where I can throw away the half-eaten pretzel. Often the line of customers in front of the vendor is so long that I can't hand my half-eaten pretzel back to the vendor and ask him to take care of it for me. So I end up carrying a half-eaten pretzel in my hand for a block or two as my search for a trash can continues. 
"At that point, another homeless person sees me with the half-eaten pretzel in my hand and he begs me to hand it over to him, since he's starving and at risk of dying from malnutrition if I deprive him of the opportunity to eat my half-eaten pretzel, he tells me. I fall for the sob story and hand over my pretzel, only to discover with horror that the homeless guy tries to grab my watch from my hand as I'm handing him the food I had just paid for with my hard-earned money. I feel very naive at that point, and I suddenly remember Aunt Jenny's  comment to me that I'm too nice for a New Yorker. I probably am too nice. Maybe I should open up a men's clothing store here that's called 'Nice Guys Finish First.' It would be my revenge on life, you might say, to dedicate an entire men's clothing store here to the theme of getting rewarded for niceness."

----"When I visited the Statue of Liberty, I was expecting to find a tastefully-designed coin-operated outdoor educational videotape machine situated right near that statue that would tell me everything I wanted to know about the history and cultural significance of the Statue of Liberty. To my amazement, I did not find any such 'All You Wanted to Know about the Statue of Liberty, but Were Afraid to Ask' videotaped narrative service at that site.  I would have gladly paid $1 for that educational service, which would have helped to finance more projects for the New York City Parks Department. God knows they are desperate for more money, and could make good use of my $1 donation."

---"Personally, my idea of patriotism here is to offer a $1,000 reward to the newcomer to New York City who writes the best essay explaining why that individual believes that he enjoys significantly more liberty and freedom here in New York City than he did in the place he abandoned to move here. There could be an annual ceremony at the foot of the Statue of Liberty statue, with the winning contestant reading his essay aloud while his stirring words are being televised on public television here in New York."

---"As a non-smoking New Yorker, the tax I like the best is the tax on cigarettes. I have never smoked any tobacco product in my entire life, so I always take great pride in knowing that the SMOKERS of New York are the ones paying that tax---not me. It's only fair that they pay more taxes than I do, since smokers are a big tax burden to our city. They are much more likely to require hospitalization than I myself ever will. Plus, an alarmingly high percentage of all smokers end up in jail, and that's another huge burden for our city's taxpayers."

---"We New Yorkers are always talking about who our favorite television police officers are, but we take pride in not having any real-life relationship with any real-life police officer here. Isn't that very strange, that we love the Hollywood actors playing cops but we wince at and avoid and shun the real police officers as if they were societal pariahs here in New York! Maybe if some of the actors playing cops would hold a press conference in which they announced that they are a personal friend of a real-life NYPD officer whom they then introduce by name and publicly praise at that press conference, that might encourage everyone in New York to try something similar."

---"My 8-year-old son, David, asked the most surprising question yesterday. When I reminded him that our mayor is Mr. Bloomberg, my son replied by asking me how many mayors in all has New York City had? I tried to dodge his question by asking my son if he wanted me to include in my total all of the counterparts to mayors who governed this city during the colonial period when the British ruled, along with all of the political leaders who governed this city when the Dutch ruled here? At that point, my son sighed and said I always make everyting too complicated for him, and he said he had lost his interest in the question because I had given him a headache with my reply. I felt bad for my son, so now I have to find a straight anwer to my son's question. What I need in order to find the simple answer to my son's question is an online 'New York City Almanac', but I don't know where I would find that on the Internet."

---"Do you ever get the impression that those of us who live in Westchester County get overlooked primarily because we don't have any alcoholic beverage named after our county? The Long Island chauvinists love to boast that their entire island gave birth to a new alcoholic beverage. It's their claim to fame, you might say. Maybe we should sponsor a special contest in Westchester County for a new alcoholic beverage, and the winning contestant would agree to have his or her alcoholic beverage officially named  'Westchester County Tea'. It might help to put Westchester County on the map, and God knows we can use all the additional tourism revenue we can get!"

---"I live right here in New York, but you just stumped me by asking me if I know the leading tourism attraction in Westchester County. Whatever that attraction is, it's completely Greek to me. But I refuse to believe I'm the only resident of Manhattan who would fail a Westchester County Geographical IQ test."

---"One of my favorite strategies for re-discovering New York City is to spend a three-day weekend at a bed and breakfast inn right here in Manhattan. My friends all think I'm very strange for doing it, but I always point out that it gives me a fresh perspective on my hometown. I get to meet all these conversation-minded and wonderfully idealistic visitors from out of town, and I get to play the role of House Expert on New York City whenever they raise questions about my hometown. It makes me feel proud to be an unofficial tour guide to New York, merely by spending a three-day-weekend as a guest at a bed and breakfast inn here. Maybe I could find a bed and breakfast inn owner who's willing to pay me a 'tour guide' fee for all the questions from other guests that I politely answer during my stays in bed and breakfast inns here."

----"Whenever I feel like fleeing to the countryside in order to get away from the screaming and noise and madness of New York, I register as a guest at a relaxing bed and breakfast inn here in New York City. The bed and breakfast inns here are designed to help you feel as if you were experiencing the serene purity and beauty of a rural area throughout your entire stay. I wish they would expand into building apartment complexes here that feature the charm of a very calm and quiet rural area."

---"You know it's odd, but I myself don't know which of the bed and breakfast inns of New York City offer the very finest breakfast meals to guests of that inn. Maybe I should ask the friends of mine from out of town who stay in bed and breakfast inns here. They would know more about that subject than I would. In fact, I don't even know any of the innkeepers here. Maybe I should contact the New York City Innkeepers Association, asuming there is one,  and ask if I could attend their next cocktail party that they sponsor. Then I could make a point of shaking hands with each of those innkeepers,  nad I'll tell each of them that I've heard so much about their breakfasts, and which breakfast dish  of theirs do they particularly recommend?"

----"One of the dilemmas the bed and breakfast innkeepers here face is that so many of their guests would probably like to drink an alcoholic beverage as part of their breakfast meal at that inn. The problem with that is that if the guest in a bed and breakfast inn gets sloshed at 9 a.m. in the morning, this leaves that guest the rest of the day to suffer from a rather unpleasant hangover here during his waking hours. When he then completes a survey that asks him to describe his most recent experience as a tourist in New York City, he's likely to state, 'I was too drunk to remember anything. Mostly what I remember from my visit to New York is that I will never again drink any  alcoholic beverage in the morning during any of my future visits here.'"

---"It's obvious that many of the people who move here look upon New York City as a place for a fresh start in life. They see the word 'new' in our city's name, and they assume this means that they can successfully evade all their bill collectors merely by moving to this designated 'Fresh Start in Life' zone called 'New York'. In reality, though, the bill collectors will continue to hound them, even after they have relocated here. Their 'Fresh Start' dream was mostly a case of wishful thinking."

---"I would be very reluctant to ever invite Clara to a future party of mine here in Manhattan.  She has this presumptuous habit of approaching everyone she meets at parties and asking if they have heard about herself yet, and if not, weren't they lucky to have discovered her just now?"

---"Whenever I need to get my apartment key or car key duplicated, I spend lots of time attempting to identify which of the locksmith services in Manhattan are beyond reproach. I would hate to ever hand my key to a locksmith who isn't someone of the highest ethical and moral standards. If a locksmith in New York City is 'on the take', so to speak, he might secretly duplicate an extra key from my keychain that he then shares with the Mafia."

---"My cousin Herb tends to be very grandiose. When asked what he would like for his birthday meal, he replied that he would like to be served the most gigantic bagel in the history of the entire universe. Personally, I can't see the point of a World's Biggest Bagel Birthday Meal. But Herb appparently wants to have his name added to the 'Guinness Book of World Records'. That's Herb's idea of an honorable ambition. Well, I told Herb in no uncertain terms that his ambition is absurd and trivial, so trivial that I wonder if he has spent too much of his life paying 'Trivial Pursuit' as his favorite boardgame. Then I asked Herb if he really and truly wants his tombstone to sum up his entire life with: 'Herb Cohen: He Ate the World's Biggest Bagel as His Leading Accomplishment in His Entire Life.'"

---"With all the soap opera stars here who double as waiters in the evening, maybe they should open up a new restaurant in Manhattan that's called, 'Soap Opera Sequel'."

---"My friend Suzy takes a very different approach to her celebrity hunting. Whenever Suzy approaches a celebrity at a public event, she tells them she wants to spare their hand from fatigue, so she won't ask for their autograph. She then gives them her personal calling card and asks them to please mail Suzy their favorite recipe for an entree or side dish or dessert item. Then Suzy quickly returns to her humble abode and waits for her latest celebrity recipe. She then adds that to her Celebrities' Faves recipe file and openly boasts to all her friends that she is so close to the celebrities of New York that 50 of them have shared their favorite recipes with her."

---"Maybe there should be an award for Most Cynical New Yorker of the Year, with the prize for that being a full-course meal at whichever restaurant the winner has identified as Manhattan's Worst.  The only problem with that award is that cynics often lie, so the wining contestant might cite their all-time favorite restaurant as the one they dislike the most. They would then boast to all the news media here that they had found a perfect way to cheat in that annual contest without being disqualified for it."

---"You claim you follow city government here, but you don't even know the name of Mayor Bloomberg's pet dog. To me, that's very basic. Even Richard Nixon had his Checkers, and everyone remembers that about him."

---"You call yourself an expert on New York City, but you don't even know which burough here has the largest number of underground buildings. That's yet another reason why you would flunk a course on local geography, if I ever do take a class of that type at CUNY. Maybe what you need is a 'New York City Buroughs Almanac' that ranks each of the buroughs here in hundreds of categories. Then you could memorize the page of that almanac that says, 'Ranking of New York City Buroughs by Number of Underground Buildings'. You could then regurgitate what you had memorized from that page when the question comes up at your next cocktail party."

---"Personally, I don't feel it's fair to compare the Queens with Manhattan. That's like comparing apples and oranges. Come to think of it, I'm not sure which of the two is the apple, and which is the orange. What do you think?"

----"I can't imagine driving a motor vehicle here if you're hearing-impaired. Most New York motorists rely on honks as their leading guide on when to pay attention to traffic signals."

----"My friend Paula swears she is the most Honked Female Motorist in all of Manhattan. Whenever she drives her Volvo around town, she attracts an average of five honks per minute from other motorists. Paula is very glamorous, and she claims that nearly all the honks she gets are flirtation honks from men who want to land a date with her by getting her attention. Paula says what those men are doing is very lousy foreplay, and she refuses to date any guy who honks at her on the roadway. Personally, I question whether all of those honks she gets are flirtation honks. Some of the honkers may be trying to protect Paula from having an accident. In fact, I hate to think of Paula at the wheel turning her head around at a stoplight and shooting the bird at her latest Romeo behind her, only to find out that he had honked at her because wanted to spare her from a head-on collision with a motorist coming at her from the other side."

---"One of the book titles I've always expected to find in the bookstores here is 'Going Bonkers Over Yonkers'. To me, that would make for an instant best-seller. But so far, no one has come up with that great idea. Maybe I should pursue a freelance career as a book-title consultant, and help other New Yorkers turn into millionaires overnight."

----"My friend Anna is so hyper-assertive and self-righteous that whenever she enters the lobby of a restaurant here, she asks the hostess to seat her at a table where the waiter or waitress is someone who never consumes tobacco products during their leisuretime. Anna then adds that she is making that special request for a non-smoker because she wants to avoid financing anyone's tobacco-addiction problem. 'I REFUSE TO BE A TOBACCO-PUSHER!', Anna then shrieks at the top of her lungs to dramatize her point."

---"Perstonally, I thought it was a big mistake for the bride and groom to offer each guest at their wedding a slice of a 16-layer cake. Why should they advertise the fact that she was a 16-year-old minor when she got pregnant by him out of wedlock? To me, it's scandalous that she got pregnant by him during a period in which she could not legally have participated in any mutual-consent sex with any legal-status adult. What this wedding is calling everyone's a attention to is her status as a statutory rape victim who is now being expected to say 'I do' while standing beside the man who raped her."

----"Maybe what we need here is an 'Honorable Immigrant of the Month' award that gets publicized throughout our entire city. We have so many immigrants here who get a bad reputation, so why not recognize and reward one immigrant each month who is someone you're actually proud to call a future citizen of this country.  That monthly award could promote greater harmony among our various racial and ethnic groups."

---"We have so many ne'er-do-wells here in New York that I sometimes suspect they spend their mornings writing 'not-to-do' lists instead of 'to- do' lists. I find it astonishing they are able to make rent every month, as little work ethic as they show."

----"If you get a public reputation for being a personal friend of the top guy in charge of NYPD, it protects you against being harassed by the NYPD officers that he supervises. The officers will figure out that harassing you also offends their head honcho. If your own politics and religion are controversial here,  and yours obviously are, I urge you to develop a personal friendship with our top police guy in New York. That's the best  insurance policy you'll ever find against being arrested on trumped-up charges."

---"My advice to him is that he should give non-anonymous sex a try. He has pursued nothing but anonymous sex nearly all of his adult life here in New York, and it undermines his ability to have a good conversational rapport with anyone. About all he ever says to his sex partners is 'your place or mine', followed by condom quickies that last a matter of seconds.  He never asks for the last name of his sex partners, since he doesn't want to clutter his mind with trivia. For him to actually have a personal conversation with any philosophical depth would be unthinkable.  He proceeds as if life were a simple numbers game, and he is currently perched on the number 500. Tomorrow night, his number will be 501 or 502, depending on how many sex partners he finds in the next 24-hour period. I find that tragically perverse, bird-brained, and sophomoric."

---"You call yourself an expert on New York City, but you don't even know Mayor Bloomberg's middle name. Myself, I always memorize the middle names of all our VIPs. For instance, Richard Nixon's middle name was Milhaus. That was useful info back when our former President lived nearby in New Jersey.  There were probably 50 other Richard Nixons living in New Jersey in those days. If I wanted to give him a phone call, all I had to do was check the white pages for the Richard Nixon with the middle name of  Milhaus."

---"I'm doing a research project about "The New York Times' in which I identify and analyze each newspaper headline of 'The Times'  from the last 30-year period that ended with an exclamation mark. Do you remember the most recent headline of that type that you saw in 'The Times'?"

---"I spend so much  of my time doing research projects at the New York Public Library that I'm turning into a NYPL groupie. The other day, I even had a former schoolmate of mine approach me at Rockefeller Center and she said to me, 'I hear you've turned into an NYPL Groupie'. I was very surprised that she had found out about my library-centered lifestyle. Rumors can spread amazingly fast here in New York, even when you're convinced that you're completely anonymous and no one has noticed you."

---"One of the biggest disadvantages to my romantic relationship with an NYPD officer is that he insists on sleeping in bed with his gun. I always tell him that makes me very nervous,. What if his gun is fully cocked and I grab for it accidentally in the dark when I'm trying to express affection for my boyfriend as we're lying in bed together?"

---"I need to go down to the New York Public Library to ask a research librarian to help me identify the one block of Manhattan where the crime rate is the lowest. I plan to limit my search for an apartment unit to that one block. I know I will sleep better every night from feeling very sure that statistically speaking, I'm safer there than anyplace else."

----"The only contest I want to win is a contest for which the grand prize is ownership of a condominium of my very own here in New York City. I don't need a big condo unit, just one that will hold my various filing cabinets and my home computer system and my futon. I never have any invited guests inside my apartment, so a mini-condo would work out great for me."

---"It seems inevitable that some Japanese company will be offering a mini-condos complex here in Manhattan where each unit is so compact that your closet space limits your wardrobe to 15 or fewer items. Personally, I could handle that, since I feel confident that I can look fashionable with 15 items of apparel to choose from. The only disadvantage would be if some fashion-conscious New Yorker comes up to me and says, 'Didn't I see you in that same shirt just one week ago?' I plan to reply by saying that I liked that shirt so well that I wanted to display it again as soon as my fashion consultant would let me."

----"I stay up after midnight quite a bit, so I keep on hand a list of toll-free phone numbers I can call on a 24-hour-a-day basis. If I'm lonely for someone to talk with at 3 a.m., I just call that hotline service and focus my comments on the topic area they specialize in. That can be a bit challenging, especially if the toll-free number I call is for Bulimia Victims and I don't recall having ever been bulimic myself.   In a case like that, I will tell the hotline service staff member who answers the phone that I am a possible friend of a bulimia victim, and I'm calling because I need to know how I can best help that individual cure themselves of bulimia? Another possibility would be to call a late-night radio talk show and chat with the host of that show at 3 a.m. about whatever pops into my head. I'm not required to give out my last name, so I would feel safe about doing that here in New York. No one would recognize me from my voice, since I have one of those very Brooklyn accents that anyone here could have."

----"I finally decided to join a civic group here in New York. To me, it makes good sense for me to join the Manhattan Mini-Condo Owners League that is exclusively for owners of condo units under 500 square feet in size. I love the idea of finding out what other mini-condo unit owners are doing to make the best possible use of their limited floor space. The only dilemma will be when some member of our group is asked to host our monthly meeting. None of us has enough room in our mini-condo unit to hold a major event of that type."

----"Everyone asks me why I finally bought a medical bracelet for myself, even though I hate jewelry and I don't want anyone to
mis-identify me as being someone on the brink of a medical crisis. My reason is simple. If I happen to have an accident or medical crisis near a Manhattan hospital other than the one that has my full medical history, all I've got to do is present my medical bracelet to the ER doctor at that new hospital. That will tell him everything he needs to know about me."

---"Personally, I wish that all of the hospitals of New York City could share medical records with one another about emergency room patients in a matter of a split second or two. But from what I understand, that is not currently the way things work here. I guess everyone is afraid that if all the hospitals of New York City have access to their own complete medical history records, some unethical doctor or unethcial nurse at any given hospital here could use that information to attempt to injure or harm themselves. To me, that's a sad commentary on the bad reputation of many of our city's doctors and nurses."

---"I think every New Yorker feels disliked by at least one medical dcotor and at least one nurse in this city. That is why I don't want my complete medical history being shared with all of the hospitals of New York City. That information could fall into the hands of one of my enemies in the medical community, and they could then try to harm my medical health."

---"With the mini-efficiency apartment I now rent, I have lots of opportunities for looking on the bright side. Why do I need to take a bath, when taking a shower involves a lot less floor space? That's the way I look at it now, since otherwise I'd go completely berserk full of rage from never being able to take a bath anymore in my own apartment."

----"When I host a friend in my mini-efficiency apatment unit, they always appreciate it when I give them the option of sleeping on either my top bunker bed or my bottom bunker bed.  I then take whichever bunker bed my overnight guest didn't want. I feel rather proud about my New York-style hospitality in that way."

----"When my out-of-town friends visit me here in Manhattan, they all want me to schedule a free appointment for them with my favorite Talent Scout here in New York. He then meets with my friends during their visit and tells each of them which talent of theirs he believes is the most marketable here in Manhattan. Sometimes he demoralizes my friends, since he might tell them that their skills are better appreciated back in the town they came from. I always hate that when he offers that evaluation, since then I have to spend the rest of my friend's visit trying to boost his morale. I don't want any friend of mine leaving New York City more depressed than before he arrived here for a job-hunting visit."

---"When my friend from out of town asked me to treat her  to the most delicious New York-style hot tea blend that I know of, I was completely stumped. So I did a Google search, since I wanted to be the perfect host for her during her stay here. I'm very grateful to Google for having saved my reputation as a great host for my out-of-town friends."

----"I want to report a Talent Scout to the New York City Better Business Bureau. The Manhattan guy I just paid $500 to for a Talent Scout evaluation told that he is very sure I have no creative talent at all, and that I should focus my job search on factory jobs or custodial  jobs for that reason."