You might be in New York if….

Bagels – Baked and Ready to Eat © by Syrenmuse

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.

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  1. Sandra Gonzales

    Too bad the synchronized spitting- peeing isn’t an Olympic sport.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Sandra: Perhaps it will one day be a demonstration sport, at least.

  2. I hope that you are having a fabulous time! Eat some pizza for me!

  3. Your in New York. Glad I took the week off and am not.

  4. Suzanne in VA

    Great points~I love New York. Wouldnt want to live there but I love to visit and have barely ventured out of Times Square! Central Park puts me in awe everytime, the Guggenheim ahhh and PIZZA! Dying to hear how you are doing it frugally!

  5. Hope you are having a fabulous time. I have been there twice. Way too big, noisy and busy for an Irish girl, used to smaller quieter and calmer!! So Donna, no desire to go back. I did though enjoy the culture of the Guggenheim and the Hunt museums and the usual tourist spots. I do remember the drug stores were absolutely fabulous. We have nothing like those in Ireland.

  6. Glad you’re havin’ a fabu time in NYC, Donna! Your list made me roll, because Manhattan is truly as you described; right down to the pups in the stroller.

    Ahh, fond memories of my hometown. You made me miss it even more!

  7. LOL! Quite true every bit of it. Though I think the rent on that studio might be more than most mortgage payments in truth.

  8. Ha! I multitask in the bathroom too. Wait until wintertime when the tiny dogs bust out their coats and boots!

  9. Lisa Under the Redwoods

    I love New York but haven’t gotten to spend enough time there. I would like to live there for three months in the fall or spring just for the experience of it. That isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

  10. ImJuniperNow

    You obviously didn’t buy The Daily News, which does have color comics, coupons and circulars every Sunday! Plus they have tons of stuff you can win in their constantly changing contests. And it’s just trashy enough to make you read it from cover to cover.

    You might be interested in the recent trend towards itsy-bitsy studio apartments that are all the rage.

    Next time you’re on the East Coast, come across the river to Jersey for some White Castle!

    • Donna Freedman

      @ImJuniperNow: I will be going across the river — but then further south. My dad lives in Cumberland County. I’m actually jonesing for a Wawa hoagie.

      • ImJuniperNow

        I think there’s a Pepperidge Farms outlet down there. Promise me you’ll go and tell the almost-expired Goldfish and Milano cookies we miss them in North Jersey!!!

  11. There is no other place like it! I live outside of the city in a rural area. I have found over the years you just can’t find pizza or bagels like they are in NY! My daughter went to Florida for the entire summer last year and by the time she got home she was dying for a slice!

  12. Great description of NY. I live here and look right past so many of the things you mentioned. I am going to look at it all differently now…

  13. Enjoy! NYC is one of those places that I have been to twice and will never go back. Just can’t hack it.

  14. Ah, yes! New York City, my birth place. I remember it now 🙂

  15. That sounds like a pretty accurate description of New York City. It’s funny because I haven’t been to many other US cities, so I always thought all cities were like NYC. But judging by your description, it’s a pretty unique city. Hope you have fun!

  16. I spent three wonderful years in NYC, and fell in love with it. That was 40 years ago, and I still go back every chance I get.

    About that $5 paper–you forgot to mention that if anyone asks what you did all day Sunday, “I read the NY Times” is a perfectly acceptable and understandable response.

  17. Bagel shops!

    I had never eaten a real bagel, obviously, because I was enamored, having never had anything but plastic bags of bagels from the grocery store, delivered by the bread man. I would walk to the end of the block each morning during the month I visited my daughter when she had her first child. I had never had a fresh bagel!

    One afternoon, I told her I wanted to talk a walk down a main street in Brooklyn. She stood at the top of her steps, ill with an infection that caused her to stop breast-feeding, looking down on me like I was three. She was trying to make me recite her address in case I could not find my way back, recite her phone number. Like a recalcitrant toddler,I refused, insisting she just pin my name and address to my ooat lapel so I could be returned if I were lost.

    Finally, I was tired of all the discussion and told her I knew to turn at the bagel shop. She exclaimed, “Mama, there is a bagel shop on every corner. That’s no help to you!” So, I recited her address. Who knew?

    All the fruit stands were amazing and the newspaper stands all over. She would not allow me to go on the subway. I wondered if this is how it would be when I am older (like now), being told what to do and where not to go.

  18. I am about 20 miles out on Long Island and laughed aloud at your descriptions! You can’t beat the food in the NYC area. My in laws are in PA and are always amazed each time they visit

  19. Don’t forget the awesome street art and fairs. I’ve gotten some great stuff… And what about Broadway, there’s nothing like it :). But, remember to bring your wallet and plenty of cash it’s not cheap in nyc.

  20. It makes me so happy that while I LOVE bagels, I HATE cream cheese (at least in it’s natural state) Cha-ching!!

  21. Donna, an unsliced bagel is not taxed in new york but a sliced is, just so to let you know, of course there is a difference between manhattan and the 5 boroughs or atleast beyond the places close to manhattan which can still be different, yes nyc proper.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Kris: I didn’t know that! I bought them unsliced at a bagel store — but asked the counter guy to slice them, as the woman for whom I was house-sitting did not have any sharp knives. (Not even a paring knife.) Luckily they didn’t tax me for the extra effort.


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