Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wit and Wisdom of New Yorkers, Part X

Overheard by me in New York City, New York, had I been there at the time:

---"I'd like to invite the head of one of the U.N. delegations to my next cocktail party, but I'm afraid that he'll bring foreign spies with him to my party. I don't want any foreign spies taking secret photographs of myself or my Manhattan home. Maybe I should contact the head of the foreign delegation I admire the most, and then make a special request that he please refrain from bringing any of his foreign spies with him when he attends my next cocktail party."

---"I always hate it when I have this really good relationship with a delegate from a foreign country at the United Nations, only to learn that his country plans to transfer him back home the following week. I feel like organizing a petition here, urging that foreign country to please keep that individual in their UN delegation, since he's urgently needed at all of my Manhattan cocktail parties. He's the life of my parties, in fact. But then it dawns on me that maybe it wouldn't be a successful petition if I use that angle. Some official of his foreign country would want to know why he was spending so much of his time here attending cocktail parties."

----"If you ask me which type of novel is the best genre to write here in New York, I'd say spy novels for sure.  New York City is full of foreign spies and foreign citizens and legal as well as illegal immigrants from dozens of foreign countries. This is the perfect city for imagining a world of infinite deceitfulness and manipulation. New York City is the perfect spawning ground for paranoia and conspiracy theories of every type. Never trust anyone, that's the credo we all live by here.  Even your mother could turn out to be a spy for a foreign country, if you're not careful."

----"I can't tell you how many times I've been out on a hot date here with some handsome single gentleman, only to have him begin to fondle my breasts and suddenly ask me, 'Are you sure you're not a double agent?' That is always a big turn-off for me. I don't like the idea of going all the way with a guy who accuses me of being a spy for more than one country."

----"I think all of the  female spies who live here in New York identify with Catwoman from the Batman movie series. No matter which country we represent, we all feel rather sly and feline, as if we spend much of our life climbing buildings at nighttime with our sharp claws. It's not that I like Catwoman. I am not fond of her. But I can see why many people would compare me to Catwoman if they saw me in the middle of my latest sly tricks on behalf of my foreign government."

---"I think any true New Yorker attends at least one Crime-Prevention workshop here every six months. It's one of those time-honored rituals of being a true New Yorker that you cannot escape."

---"Personally, what I need the most is a specially-designed doormat in front of my apartment unit that secretly photographs anyone who stands on that doormat in front of my apartment unit. No member of the criminal element would ever guess that he was being photographed as he stands on my front doormat. The only difficulty would be the angle of the photograph, since it might tend to obscure their facial features. That's the technical problem I haven't found a solution for yet."

---"I can't decide whether the private detectives here in New York are failed investigators for NYPD, or NYPD investigators so successful at what they do that they started a business of their own."

---"I think every New Yorker senses at least once per week that they are being trailed by a stalker. That is one of the leading incentives that many of us have for suddenly entering a sandwich shop at 9 p.m. and ordering something to eat, even though we're not hungry. We want to find out whether the suspected stalker enters the sandwich shop after we do. If he does, at least we can see him better in a clean well-lit place, and we can then dial 911 to give NYPD a full description of that suspected stalker."

---"When I told my wife that I suspect I'm being stalked by someone, she laughed right at my face. Then she said, 'Why would ANYONE have any interest in you? You're very lucky you somehow talked me into marrying you, since otherwise you would have elicited zero interest in you from everyone else on this entire planet! And don't take our marriage for granted, Fred, since I could demand a divorce from you tomorrow morning, as thoroughly unenjoyable as this marriage has been for me. Being married to you is complete Dullsville for me, and we live right here in the most thrilling city in the entire world----Manhattan!'"

----"Harold and Samantha can't even decide on which restaurant to celebrate their wedding anniversary at. To me, that's a bad sign about the future of their marriage. Maybe they should have their wedding anniversary meal catered to them inside their home. That way, they could avoid having an argument over which restaurant to dine at. But it's unlikely they could even agree on a caterer. The last time I heard Samantha and Harold say 'yes' to each other about anything was their wedding ceremony. That was five years ago. But even at the time, I noticed that neither of them sounded convincing when they said 'I do'."

----"Can you imagine what it would be like to have a career as a stock market investor on Wall Street. Whenever your stocks go way up, you're expected to celebrate by getting drunk with your client. If you have several straight weeks of financial success for your client, that could give you lots of nasty hangovers."

----"One of my all-time favorite heroes here is Yogi Berra. I love the name, it sounds like something from a children's fairy tale.  I think that's one of the leading reasons for his success here. Children think of Yogi Berra as a huge bear of a guy. There might as well be a Yogi Berra Half-Human and Half-Bear stuffed animal on sale at Schwartz's toy shop here in Manhattan. The Yogi Berra Half-Human and Half-Bear doll would go over real big as a Christmas present here."

---"You'd be surprised by how many of the adult New Yorkers are also terrified by the night here. In fact, many of our city's adults choose to sleep with stuffed animal toys on their bed to ward off burglars and rapists. To me, the ideal stuffed animal toy would be one you could put on your bed at night that secretly videotapes any intruder situated anywhere in your bedroom during your sleep. But unfortunately, I don't know of any stuffed toy on the market right now that will do that for you. I love the idea of an electronic watchdog you don't have to feed. Just think of what a life-saver a toy of that type could be, especially if it makes an automatic 911 call  to NYPD immediately after an intruder is spotted in your bedroom!"

----"I'm new to New York City. Would you please tell me where I can find the public statue of Simon Bolivar along the Avenue of the Americas here?"

---"I've heard so much about lung cancer here, that I'd like to rent a lung purifying machine that will clean out my lungs whenever I'm sleeping inside my Manhattan apartment.  Do you know how expensive it would be for me to rent a machine of that type?"

----"I don't know why you're so obsessed with deep-dish pizza. You're the first person I've met here who actually pulls out a ruler to measure exactly how deep your deep-dish pizza is. I often get the impression that you won't eat a deep-dish pizza unless it's at least six inches deep. Is that correct?"

---"Ted told me yesterday that he can't decide whether to leave behind his intellectual property to Princeton or Yale. I was amazed to hear Ted talk that way. Ted is the walking antonym of the word 'intellectual,' so it's a complete shock to me to hear him claim to own any intellectual property."

----"My cousin Edgar tells me he feels vindicated by  the intellectual property rights judgment in his favor that he recently had in federal district court here. For decades, everyone in New York loved to ridicule Edgar by calling him a moron. Now a judge has ruled in Edgar's favor, which means he is now officially a man of keen intellect. With help from the judgment he won, Edgar can afford to retire at Miami Beach.  I'm very happy for Edgar. In fact, I plan to ask everyone I know if they have heard about my genius cousin Edgar who recently won a major intellectual property judgment here in New York?"

---"I'm very into aroma therapy, so I need to find the most up-to-date and authoritative online data base that cites each of the outdoor and indoor sites in New York City where the aroma therapy benefit from sniffing with my nose is the greatest. I'm assuming that Central Park will be the most frequently cited location at that aroma-therapy data base for New York City. Is that correct?"

---"I find it odd that I ride in subway cars at least 10 times per week, but I've never once spoken with any of the conductors of those subway cars. Maybe there should be a special 'Get to Know Your Subway Conductors' reception here in Manhattan. The least I can do is attend, and thank them for keeping the subway cars on the track. To me, that's a fair bottom line on the subject of what I should be grateful for here in New York. I always appreciate riding in a subway car that doesn't derail during my ride."

----"Everyone asks me what I would want in a dream apartment here in Manhattan, and my answer is always the same. To me, the best possible apartment situation would be one in which all of the other tenants are law-abiding non-smokers, and there are at least five indoor racquetball courts at my complex. In the middle of a snowstorm, I could stay right at my apartment complex and still get a great cardiovascular workout from playing racquetball."

----"One of the statistics about New York City that I would dread reading is the percentage of all adult residents here who have never once traveled to Canada during their leisuretime. To me, a statistic like that tells you a lot about the level of interest in our neighbor to the north that New Yorkers reveal."

----"Whenever my friends ask me why I haven't been a CEO of a corporation yet, I always reply that I'm flattered that they regard me as being CEO material. Then I ask them to please write me a signed letter of recommendation in which they cite the specific attributes and accomplishments of mine that they feel make me a fine CEO prospect here in New York."

---"The least we could do is invite 10 of the leading CEOs of Canada to visit us here in Manhattan for a symposium on issues that Canadian CEO's face these days.  Wouldn't that be one way to promote more dialogue between us New Yorkers and the Canadians?"

----"My 8-year-old son, Paul, says he wants to see the Canadian Goose Exhibit at the Bronx Zoo, since Canada is in the news a lot these days. Paul says he's curious to find out what a Canadian Goose looks like. I told Paul that we shouldn't make that trip to the Bronx Zoo unless his second-grade teacher promises him in advance that he'll extra credit toward his next report card grade from writing a report about what he saw at the Bronx Zoo with his mother."

----"I wonder what percentage of all of the men of New York City fantasize every day about being either a professional football quarterback or a CEO. Probably 50 percent, but that's just a guess on my part."

----"You'd think the Canadians would come up with a delicious Maple Walnut Cake that they could export to us New Yorkers. But myself, I have never once seen a Maple Walnut Cake from Canada anywhere in the stores here. This is one of the reasons why I don't regard Canadians as being all that aggressive in the marketplace."

----"My 10-year-old son collects autographs from professional hockey players as one of his leading hobbies these days. This means that my son expects me to take him to at least five Islanders games a month here in New York. I try to honor my son's request on that, but I hate watching fist-fights between hockey players during those games. Maybe I should write to Dear Abby about this parenting dilemma."

---"I think every New Yorker has fantasies about taking a 3-day-weekend trip to the source of the Hudson River somewhere upstate. You can never fully appreciate the Hudson River until you have visited its source, gazed at it with awe, and camped beside it."

----"I need to ask my cardiologist if he knows of any Dutch dishes I could ask for in a restaurant here that would allow me to celebrate our city's Dutch heritage without giving me a heart attack."

---"To me, one of the best ways for New York City to highlight our Dutch heritage would be to build lots of designer windmills near the entrance to our city. A big sign could declare, 'We New Yorkers Go Dutch When It Comes to Energy: Windmills from the Netherlands Are Our Favorite Electricity-Generating Stations!"

----"I would love to find out the favorite dishes of New Amsterdam's Dutch Governor back in the Good Old Days when we were a colony of The Netherlands. I don't remember reading about his favorite foods and beverages in any recent food-section article in the 'New York Post'."

----"It would be fascinating to learn which types of breads the Dutch ate during the period when they ruled over New Amsterdam here in the 17th Century. For all the years I've lived here in New York, no one has ever once invited me to break Dutch bread with them. I wonder what might explain that big void in my dietary lifestyle as a New Yorker."

----"I think anyone who lives in New York wants to find out which of the buildings here were designed by a Dutch architect. That type of information gives you a stronger and deeper sense of our Dutch heritage."

----"With all the Dutch heritage here, it's odd that I don't reemember seeing the Dutch flag whenever I walk around Mnahattan. Maybe I just haven't been looking hard enough for it. In fact, I don't even remember what the Dutch flag looks like, so even if I ran into it in broad daylight, I might not recognize it."

---"Find out the day of the year when this community was first called 'New Amsterdam', then head for the Dutch Embassy on that day of the year. There's a chance they will be sponsoring a 'New Amsterdam Heritage Party' in the Dutch Embassy that day, and they might even let you attend their party, especially if you claim to have some Dutch ancestry. But it's best not to lie about whether you have Dutch ancestry. If your last name sounds very Scottish or very English, they might turn you away if you declare to a Dutch Embassy official that an ancestor of yours designed the first-ever dike in the history of  The Netherlands."

----"As much as my business in Manhattan depends on having a reliable and honest and speedy courier at all times, I feel there should be an annual Courier of the Year contest here to honor New York City's very finest in that category. My only concern about it would be if someone gets named the speediest and best Courier of the Year, only to later confess to the 'New York Daily News' that he is a speed addict or heroin addict. There must be some way to limit the annual contest to couriers currently employed in New York City who do not consume ANY illicit drug of any type, and who aren't current drug addicts."

---"Everyone here always asks me for my favorite anecdote about my famous ancestor, and I'm always stumped by the question. I never met my famous ancestor, since he was alive in the 1600s.  My favorite thing to say about him so far is that he may have been the only governor of Massachusetts who was not corrupt. That always gets a good laugh at parties here whenever I use that line. But it may not be fair to all of the other Bay State governors. Maybe what I should do is contact the best historians here in New York, and ask them for their favorite anecdote about my famous ancestor from the Bay State. That might give me the type of colorful comment I could use that works well at parties here."

----"I'm a New York chauvinist. The only postage stamps I collect are stamps that highlight someone who lived in New York State. If they lived in New Jersey or Pennsylvania but not New York, they are excluded from the scope of my own collection."

----"I'm among those New Yorkers who are skeptical about the contributions to society being made by those who support themselves financially merely from earning a financial return on their Wall Street investments. I tend to think of a career in terms of muscular exertion and perspiration and bold creativity and tangible accomplishments. What the investors do is way too passive for my tastes."

----"I have never even thought of approaching one of of those guys who explores below manhole covers for a living, and then inviting him to lunch here in Manhattan. Since I'm not running for political office,  it never pops into my head that I need to garner the manhole-cover workers' vote. One obvious concern I'd have about meeting a manhole-cover worker for lunch is that he would probably have so much filth on his body and uniform that it would not be conducive to meeting him for lunch inside a restaurant. I could not even fake an appetite for my meal, if I sat across the dinner table from a manhole-cover-worker."

---"I think every New Yorker carries with him at all times as background autobiographical information the highest floor of any building here that he has ever  reached in person.  A lot of us New Yorkers secretly fantasize about climbing to the top of Mount Everest.  Since that moment of triumph never occurs for most of us, we console ourselves by boasting to acquaintances of ours that we have reached the 60th floor of a prestigious tall building here in Manhattan. We New Yorkers feel as if that phenomenal climb of ours, so to speak, is the closest we will ever come to a major athletic feat. However, we're also aware that we consumed zero calories from riding an elevator to the top of that skyscraper. So we feel a bit like fake athletes. We're phonies, if you will."

----"So tell me, what percentage of your friends here are world-famous?"

----"So tell me, how many times has your face or full legal name appeared on the front page of 'The New York Times'? That, to me, is a bottom line that every New Yorker asks himself to figure out whether he's got stature. When your answer to that question is 'zero', you feel a bit like a nobody. But you can always join a New York Nobodies Association as a dues-paying member, since there probably is a civic group here for nobodies."

----"I'm new to this city, and I'm looking for the spot here where the view of the Hudson River is the most breath-taking. Where in New York City should I go for that?"

---"I need to find out how many miles my family and I have to travel from Manhattan to find a swimmable river? I promised my two young children that I would give them both a chance to swim in the river. But then I realized that I don't remember seeing any roadsign here that declared, '50 miles to Nearest Swimmable River'.  So I'm completely in the dark on that subject."

---"I think any New York parent yearns for a first-rate New York State almanac that provides fully up-to-date factual information citing which rivers and lakes of our Empire State are, in fact, currently safe to swim in. I would hate to let my two young children swim in a lake, only to find out that its waters were so polluted they were harmful to my children's health."

---"My next-door neighbor tells me he is new to New York City, so he needs to find out which  types of fish he can catch in the Hudson River. I tried very hard to take his question seriously, since I wanted  to come across as polite. You never know when your own  life depends on a 911 call to NYPD from a vigilant neighbor, so it's best to stay on good terms with as many of your neighbors as possible. All I could think of telling this new neighbor of mine is that I've got the phone number for the city desk at the 'New York Daily News,' and I'm very sure that someone there could tell him very quickly which types of fish he can catch in the Hudson River, even if that requires driving upstate to find a fishable stretch of the Hudson

---"As a New Yorker, I find it very ironic that the people of Pennsylvania claim to have a monopoly on Dutch heritage.  They refer to the Pennsylvania Dutch as if Dutch Americans can only be found in their state, which I find very offensive. To hear these arrogant Pennsylvanians talk, it's like none of the people of their state have ever heard about 'New Amsterdam,' or about the Governor of New Amsterdam, Mr. Stuyvesant. I forget his first name, since I was never on a first-name basis with him, and in fact I wasn't alive at the time.  His last name, in any case, is very well known here in New York. So it really rankles me when these Pennsylvanians imply that if you want to explore Dutch heritage, you have to visit Pennsylvania and bypass New York. I feel very sure that New York City has better Dutch restaurants than Philadelphia has. But I don't claim to know the name of our Dutch restaurants, I admit that we could do a better job of promoting them here. For all I know, our five-star Dutch restaurant in New York is called
'Stuyvesant', in honor of our very fine Dutch Governor from the 17th Century."

----"Every time I come up with a bold and original new idea for a three-day weekend outing, I arrive at my destination and the first thing I see are 20 New Yorkers staring at me. It always turns out that they immediately identified me as a fellow New Yorker. Then one of them says to me, 'You need to come up with a more original idea than that if you want to get away from your fellow New Yorkers for a weekend.'"

---"As a linguist here in New York, people often ask me which northeastern accent I enjoy listening to the most, when I travel around this region. I happen to think the Connecticut accent is underrated, and deserves more recognition than it currently gets. But I'm not denying the appeal of the Boston Brahmin accent. From a linguist's perspective, those Bostonians can certainly be charming to the ear."

---"He is very rare for a New Yorker. No one here ever accuses Jeff of degrading or humiliating anyone. To me, that's quite a rare trait in a New York single gentleman. Maybe Jeff should write a new guidebook on how to avoid degrading or humiliating your fellow New Yorkers. There would probably be a huge market for a book of that type here."

---"Richard is so thoughtful that he always thanks the doorman in the lobby of a New York City professional building whenever Richard enters that type of building. Nine of every 10 New York men don't bother thanking the doormen when they enter a classy building here, so that's one of the reasons I rate Richard among the most thoughtful of all New Yorkers in the year 2013. If there were a 'Most Thoughtful New York Single Gentleman of the Year' award, Richard would definitely be chosen for that honor.  He would also write and send a very nice thank-you note to the civic group that bestowed that local honor on himself."

---"I'm torn about whether to refer to a female doorman at a professional building here in New York City as a 'doorwoman', a 'doorperson,' or a 'doorman'. What do you think is the best thing to call her?"

---"I think a lot of New York single women are terrified by the idea of ever saying 'you're welcome' to any male acquaintance whom they encounter for the first or second time in their personal life. If a woman here says 'you are welcome' to a man, he will immediately interpret that as evidence that she is a human 'welcome mat' whom he can walk all over at the earliest opportunity."

----"Date rapes are so common here in New York that I prefer to think about the occasional dates here that don't feature rapes.  Maybe there's a need for new research institute in Manhattan that's called, 'Center for the Study of Rape-Free and Strictly-Mutual-Consent Romantic Relationships'. The New Yorkers who would qualify for being studied by a research institute of that type might appreciate getting recognition for their honorable style."

----"I find it very odd that Irving has been wearing Brooks Brothers suits for many years here in Manhattan, but he is not on a first name-basis with either of the two Brooks Brothers or their offspring. I'm assuming it was two nice gentlemen by the last name of Brooks who started up that fashionwear company in our Greater New York metro area. I found out about Irving's surprising ignorance when I asked Irving to tell me which of the two Brooks Brothers he admires the most. Irving replied that he has not bothered to search for a biography on the Brooks Brothers. He has read the biography on the Wright Brothers who pioneered the field of aviation, Irving says, but he's never once seen any biography about the Brooks Brothers. Irving emphasized to me that he regards the Brooks Brothers as lesser figures in American history than the Wright brothers were. So my immediate reply to Irving was this: How often does he wear a Brooks Brothers suit? Three times a week, he says. So then I asked Irving how often does he fly in an airplane. Once per month, Irving says. So then I said to Irving that he's just admitted to me that the Brooks Brothers have more to do with Irving's everyday life than the Wright Brothers. Irving hates to lose an argument, so then he shoots back at me with an angry reply. Being married to me is no fun, he says, since I'm too much of a debater for Irving's tastes."


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