Actually, I don't watch sports. I do watch the UFC, but that is just breaking into the mainstream. I had just returned from my vacation to New York where I walked an average of thirteen miles a day. My dawgs were barkin' every day. I mean, I woke up every morning with my feet still throbbing from the day before because I walked every where to get a sense of the locals, the touristy spots, the history, and the overall energy of Manhattan. I finally understand when characters in TV shows say Midtown, Upper East Side, West Village, and where the famous bull lives in Lower Manhattan. It's called that because it's in the lower part of Manhattan.
The most prevalent myth is that New Yorkers are mean. My first experience with this was when I had to cancel a double booking at a New York hostel. So I called, and the woman on the other end sighed as if I had asked her, "Do you know karate? Cuz your body is kickin'."
After fighting through cancelled flights due to the record-breaking snowstorms the northeast had suffered, I finally checked into my room at midnight. Despite it being late and freakin' cold, the front desk people were incredibly kind.
That was weird, I remembered thinking.
The next day, I was off on my tour of Manhattan and walked up 5th Avenue. Other than the taxis honking every single minute, I found the locals to be friendly. Really friendly. Everyone seemed civil as I roamed like a ghost the halls of the main branch of the New York Public Library, one of the sites where The Ghostbusters had been filmed. I entered Bergdorf Goodman, a historic building that sells high fashion, and every one greeted me as if I belonged there (I touched a jacket that costed $14,000! Gawd dayem!). Guides at the Empire State Building smiled and greeted us tourists, despite having to do this all day, every day.
If it were me, I'd be like, "This way goddammit! Into the freakin' elevator. Stop crowding. Stop actin' like children! Quiet!"
The whole two weeks I was there, I didn't encounter a mean soul. Even the homeless seemed nice. A homeless man walked around a corner as I was taking a picture of the Chrysler Building. A big smile plastered across his face. In fact, I don't recall seeing any teeth. He said, "There's an AA meeting if you can make it." I couldn't stop laughing.
I even hung out in Brooklyn, went to the Brooklyn Bazaar, and took the subway all the way to the end and strolled around Flushings. One of the locals had told me that there are more than one Chinatowns (say what?), and I've always wanted to visit Flushings because the movie Saving Face had been set there (Luv Joan Chen). I will say the Chinese people there weren't as friendly, but maybe because it was the end of their workday. Or maybe they hated going to a bank that uses abacuses and having to wait for the clickity clack to finish their transaction sucked.
So I wondered how New Yorkers had earned such a bad rap? I went out to dinner with a woman that I had met, who recommended Lombardi's, a famous pizzeria, and she said something interesting: New Yorkers are direct, blunt. They're not going to pussyfoot around and be fake. If you're in their way, for example, they will let you know. And walking around Grand Central Terminal during rush hour, I saw how everyone sped toward their destinations. It was like watching a fine tuned watch running on steroids. When I threw myself into the rush-hour crowd, I had to walk fast to avoid causing a pile up of New Yorkers.
And I can understand being direct. I'm very direct. I've gotten complaints from friends and family that I'm too direct. Sometimes, I just don't have the time nor the want to be concerned with others' sensitive sensibilities. And life is very fast paced in the Big Apple. So when someone encounters a tourist who has their face buried in their smart phone, completely unaware of their surroundings, and they tell that tourist to getouttaheah, then that tourist shouldn't be upset.
The myth of the angry New Yorker had been formed from misunderstandings. I thought a lot about this because there are a lot of myths that float around my main character in my book. And the thing about myths are that they become truths in peoples' minds. Despite them being false, my character has to deal with them, which provides an extra level of conflict, great for storytelling.
But I've learned that a rumor may just be that until I can confirm it for myself. And that was one of the more memorable things about my trip to New York, that the people there are kind. The pace of life may be different, but that doesn't make anyone meaner. And it really depends on what you expect to find. If you expect people to be mean, then you'll find people that are mean.
I now understand the appeal of living there. The energy there is amazing. And, oh, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. I didn't know they had built pools in place of the twin towers to memorialize those who had died. I remember that day vividly. It's definitely worth the visit.