Recently, I found a couple of photos of my dad from when he first visited NYC. It was around the time my nephew was born and he had just discovered that all three of his daughters would be moving here and there was nothing he could do about it. Before we did, he wanted to make sure he checked things out. He said it was only to meet his new grandson but we knew it was more than that.
He lived here for 6 months and would walk around for hours exploring the city, taking notes, making judgements, shaking his head and generally feeling he knew better than everyone he met. Everyone.
The night before I was leaving he took me aside and said, “I’ve got some do’s and don’ts for you. Here is how you own it in the city.” Of course, I was intrigued. My dad had never used expressions like “own it” before.
How to “own it” in the city, according to him, went something like this:
- Eat a lot of Chinese food for lunch and early bird special dinner. The food is cheap and if you go to one place often enough, they’ll give you a discount
- If a man whistles at you on the street, tell a policeman
- If someone throws garbage on the street, tell a policeman
- If you get lost, show no fear. Keep a straight face. Ask a policeman
- People scream, fight, argue at subway stations. Report it to a policeman
- Wear turtlenecks to work. All “successful” women I see in NYC wear turtlenecks
- If it is snows, tell your boss you’re going home. Your safety is of the utmost importance
- Leave work once it starts to get dark and go home
- Leave any place you’re at once it starts to get dark, unless it’s your sister’s house
- Stay away from Times Square. Never go to Times Square
- Women wear very short dresses all year round in NYC no matter how cold it is. Don’t be one of them. Their parents taught them nothing
- Carry plastic bags in case you have to throw up. Don’t do it on the street like others. They’re hooligans. Are you a hooligan?
I wish I remembered all of them. There were a lot. Living without my dad is hard. Remembering and writing about him easy and cathartic. Miss you dad.