Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reflections from a Grady Doctor in NYC: Skyscrapers and ev'rythang!

*Ode to my friend and fellow Grady doctor, Neil W., who is always in a New York state of mind

Okay, so I took a brief trip to New York City for less than 24 hours this week for work. Usually, I limit my blog posts to Grady or at least the state of Georgia, but New York City is a trip. What's cool about it is this. . . .if you aren't from there, every time you go is like the first time. As soon as I arrive, the first thing I always say is a line from Stevie Wonder's "Livin' for the City":

"New York! Just like I pictured it! Skyscrapers and ev'rythang!"

I texted that line to my friends and family. My friend Lesley M. (also a bonified, born and raised New Yorker) promptly replied by asking if I'd ever been to New York. Explained the Stevie Wonder thing to her best I could.(No worries, Lesley, that song came out in 1973.) My brother, on the other hand, second only to my sister Darlene in his mastery of all things random, rapid fire texted back the next three lines from the song. That is so Draper family.

Things I heard in less than 24 hours in the city:

Riding in the car:

"Hey! What are you? Some kinda moron? Get outta da road!!" He rolls his window up, looks over his shoulder and then smiles at me--sweet as pie. "How you doin'?"

In Starbucks:

"Aaay! Let me get a red eye, grande!"


"I'm next. . I'm next. . .Let me get a Black Eye, The Big One."


"Whateva is the big one. The big one, that one, the big one . . .Venti Vidi Vici! Geeze, the big one." Hilarious.

"BLACK EYE! VENTI!" Love this.

I scan the entire menu. Nothing anywhere says anything about any red eyes, blue eyes, black eyes or any eyes whatsoever. Against better judgment I ask Red-eye lady:

"Excuse me. . . .uh. . . .what is a 'red eye?'"

"WHAT'S A RED-EYE!??" the Red-eye woman answers in unison with Starbucks barista who overheard me asking. (People in New York talk loudly, but for some reason, no matter how softly you speak, they hear you, and then repeat what you said in Dolby Stereo for all who didn't.) "Uh. . yeah. . .I don't see it. . " I look up at the menu and point. Red-eye lady, Dolby-barista, and Black-eye bully all laugh. . . .but nice thing. . .sort of with me, no at me. Black-eye Bully says, "Red eye is a cup a joe with a shot of espresso. Black is a cup a joe with two shots of espresso." I say, "Why would anyone want two shots of extra espresso in the biggest cup of Starbucks coffee?" Red-eye lady, Dolby-barista, and Black-eye bully all laugh again. This time at me.

And finally, grabbing a bite with a friend:

Just stepped into this little dive of a burger joint that felt very much like I was in the "it" place. Standing room only, folks everywhere. Only thing on the menu you can order: Burger, Burger + cheese, fries, shake (vanilla or chocolate.) Nothing else. Not gardenburgers, no grilled chicken, no nada. It's packed, so obviously, it is very good. With my friend, Natalie L., who suggested the spot and walked with me chic-ly with locked arms through midtown 'til we reached the place. Felt very Carrie and Samantha, especially because I was wearing 3 inch heels. (Forgot my flats.) Okay, back to the burger joint. People everywhere, no place to sit. Someone clears a booth and three swanky twenty-somethings slink over to sit down before we can. I am mortified when Nat looks at swank-a-licious trio and says: "Can we join you guys in this booth?" I am thinking, Is she crazy? This is New York! Fugeddaboudit! Then much to my surprise they say, "Sure . . ." The swank-a-licious trio scoots over and makes room for us totally nonchalantly. . .in their booth in a burger joint. Note: This is NOT a big booth. This thing fits two on each side comfy cozy, three on each side is kind of tight. But they didn't even flinch. "Sure, go ahead." I start making obligatory Southernly hospitable small talk, only to learn, I have lots to learn about New York booth sharing etiquette. After two or three short answers to my questions, Nat starts chatting away with me while noshing on her medium burger and our bag of greasy fries for two. Then I notice that swanksters are also chitting y chatting with not so much as a glance in our direction. They literally let us sit down--no obligation to chat. I whisper to Nat, "We don't have to talk to each other? That's so funny." Nat laughs and says, "Oh no. . .you can sit with me, but no, don't talk to me." It was incredibly odd. . .yet wonderfully entertaining and blogworthy.

I am now back in Atlanta, in the comfort of my "y'alls" and "yes, ma'ams." I do enjoy New York, though, and love any chance I get to visit. Even still I need some clarity. . . . .

Questions for my New York friends:

  • Why do y'all talk so LOUD?
  • Why does anyone need two shots of espresso in an already strong coffee? (Starbucks is, like, the strongest of the strong! Uggghh!)
  • It's an oxymoron. . . why are y'all nice enough to let somebody sit in your personal space, but too mean to hold a conversation with them once they get there?
  • Why do y'all have such great public transportation but still have horrible traffic?
  • Seriously, why do y'all talk so LOUD?

Do tell. . . .


  1. LOL! I love New York! I can't wait to go next month! I love all the walking... the noise... the hustle and bustle... and the SUBWAY!!!

    So... if you want to get away again... April 15-18.... :-)

  2. 1) re: stevie wonder: hey hey slick, run this across the street for me right quick...
    2) re: loud people. if you are not loud you will not a)be able to get a taxi, b) be able to order a coffee, c) be able to be an efficient coffee shop worker, d) flex your ny status. being loud is part of being from the city. and we carry it wherever we go, as you know.
    3) re: nice/mean people. that's what the city is all about. we are not barbarians. however, we are also not there to make friends. thus, you can sit, but that doesn't change the fact that we didn't invite you to lunch. we invited our friends to lunch. and given that this was a swanky obnoxious burger joint made for the 'in' crowd, the friends that i did bring with me were carefully screened, and other friends were cut with extreme prejudice. so, if you think you're jumping in on the high tier friend convo train, you are sadly mistaken.


  3. Chin-Quee, I do thank you for that clarification. Especially the nice/mean oxymoron. Now it is clear to me. . . .thank you, thank you, thank you. . . that explains why it took me 10 minutes to get the Starbucks barista to take my order. . . aaaahhhh. . .


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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