Let me say up front that it’s not as though I’ve never been to a big city before. I’ve lived in or visited quite a few.
But there’s nowhere like New York — especially for someone who’s spent eight years in a city where Scandinavian reticence mingles with progressive politics and hipster irony.
Allow me to share a few gawking-tourist observations, then. You’re likely in New York if….
You can walk out the door, cross the street and buy hot-from-the-oven bagels.
You pay $3.99 for cream cheese at the corner store. (Which is actually 50 cents cheaper than the bagel store was charging.)
The Sunday paper costs $5, and it has only one coupon insert and no color comics.
A studio apartment is almost as tall as it is wide.
The bathroom is small enough for an unsavory form of multi-tasking: spitting toothpaste into the sink while using the toilet.
You charge your laptop in the bathroom because of a paucity of electrical outlets elsewhere.
The rent on that studio would be a mortgage payment on a house in most other places.
Everybody jaywalks — even the cops.
Nobody waits for the light to cross the street — especially the cops.
Fresh flowers are sold even at some of the teeniest bodegas.
Almost every block has a produce vendor.
Almost every block has some kind of vendor: souvenirs, baby clothes, umbrellas and wallets, books, T-shirts, caricatures.
Street meat is everywhere: hot dogs, gyros, shawarma, kebabs.
Street veg is everywhere, too: falafel, hummus, nuts.
A slice of pizza is the size of a pillowcase.
Garlic knots and zeppole are sold next to fried Oreos at the pizzeria.
You see impossibly gorgeous, killingly stylish men and women everywhere, people who clearly have stayed away from the garlic knots, zeppole and fried Oreos.
Then you see such people eating inhaling street-vendor food or pushing folded slices of pizza into their mouths (without interrupting their cell-phone conversations), and you realize: They’re that thin because everybody walks everywhere.
Everybody, that is, except for the two dachshunds I saw being wheeled down the street in a double stroller.