5 Things I Did Not Know When I Moved to New York

I’ve been here a while now, so it’s okay to admit these things. I am pretty sure I am not alone in these rather humbling experiences. Correction: I really hope I am not alone in these experiences, because if I am, I am a far greater nerd than I thought.

1. I did not know about wasabi. In my defense, I also had never had sushi before moving to New York, so I was a victim of the oldest trick in the book (which is the one where your sushi expert friend tells you to eat a big gob of wasabi straight up, because they insist it is delicious, and then fire comes out of your eyes and nostrils and you pray to Jesus for sweet relief and can’t wait to try that trick on some other unsuspecting doofus).

2. I didn’t know that you’re supposed to pronounce Houston Street like Howston Street. Naturally, now when I hear tourists repeat my mistake, I become enraged.

3. Drugs are everywhere. Growing up in the Midwest, I honestly thought drugs were like, super duper hush-hush items of secrecy and that police wearing riot gear with giant German Shepherd dogs were lurking around every corner in the big city just waiting to bust people with drugs. I did not know that approximately 97% of New Yorkers keep marijuana stashed away somewhere in their kitchen. I could not have imagined the possibility of a drug dealer riding his bicycle to your apartment at any hour of the day or not.  The 14-year-old Vanessa Huxtable tattletale that still lives inside me wants to say “awwwwww” in a you’re-gonna-get-it voice every time I smell ganja on the sidewalk.

4. Midtown is not cool. I was under the impression that, thanks to pretty much every single movie I saw as a kid set in New York, all the action was in Midtown. As it turns out, Splash!, Tootsie, Working Girl, and Kramer vs. Kramer were all liars. As it also turns out, my parents probably should not have let me seen a lot of movies I was allowed to see at an impressionable young age. True fact: Kramer vs. Kramer was almost directed by Francois Truffaut. Imagine.

5. There are no secret underground nightclubs featuring magic shows, like the one in Desperately Seeking Susan. Trust me, I’ve searched. This, to me, is a serious failure on behalf of every nightclub owner in this city. I’m sick of fake burlesque shows and “speak-easies” (people, there was this thing called the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment, and it’s been legal to drink alcohol in this country for 80 years, so enjoy that $17 “secret” martini). If you want to really buy an alcoholic beverage and consume it illegally, buy a Tecate and drink it in the alley behind my apartment building with all the other dudes who hang out at the taco stand downstairs.  And let me know if you know how to do any magic tricks or if Rosanna Arquette stops by.

Published by zoe aarsen

i am an illustrator, a cat herder and an all-around troublemaker residing in los angeles. i write and read stories about scary things.

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