I hate New York.
It’s harsh and I’m sorry, I know that Liz is scowling at me RIGHT NOW, but Manhattan gives me hives.
There was a time, when I was in high school and then college, when I was close to death by ennui and I believed NYC to be the ultimate be all and end all in coolness, and as I applied to acting schools and pictured my glamorous life to follow—doing toothpaste commercials while waiting tables and eating giant soft pretzels while waiting for my BIG BREAK—when I believed that Manhattan was The Place For Me.
That was, of course, because I’d never been there for more than a day. And also because back then I hadn’t developed a healthy sense of FEAR. I like Fear. Fear and I are BFFs. I braid Fear’s hair and Fear sits with me and points out all the ways in which someone might die a horrible death. It’s great.
I feel like I spend a lot of time with Fear in Manhattan.
First of all, every single taxi ride necessitated staring at my feet and concentrating very hard on finding my happy place. True, I wasn’t in any car accidents during my trip, but in the normal course of my day I generally try not to get into the car of someone I don’t know who speaks no English so that I can sit there while he alternately stomps on the accelerator and the brake.
I also noticed on this trip that taxis now have Cab-O-Vision or whatever they’re calling it; little embedded television touch-screens in that wall between you and the front seat, and you can use them to call up various sorts of information you might want to have in the city, like maps or directories of Broadway shows or restaurant information.
But the thing is, in the back of a cab what I REALLY need is nothing Cab-O-Vision can give me. What I need is a supply of Dramamine, a barf bag (in case the Dramamine doesn’t work), a blindfold, headphones, and maybe a plastic Jesus or Buddha or whatever. Just a friendly sort of idol who can sit there and communicate, “Hey, chances are excellent that you won’t die in this car today. Probably there will just be a fender bender and a lot of swearing. God loves you! Here’s a barf bag!”
This is all moot, of course. I didn’t die in a taxi in New York. I just spent a lot of time preparing for it.
Even walking around in New York is complicated for me, both because comfortable shoes are never hip enough and hip shoes are excruciating to tromp around in, AND because apparently you are not allowed to make eye contact with anyone. That’s all good and well, and I’ll try to squelch my urge to be friendly (because, as I understand it, even basic politeness is a bad idea), but if I’m looking DOWN so that I don’t make eye contact, I am going to be swept along with the crowds and that’s a problem, because most of the time I have NO IDEA where I’m going. Also, being packed into throngs of people is bad enough, but a lot more of them seem to smoke, in the city. And I hate cigarette smoke. But I cannot escape, because I can’t look up and even if I DID there are too many people packed together for me to get away.
Oh, here’s something else I did: Because I knew I was going to be filmed for television, I decided to check and make sure I had all of the appropriate make-up. I guess that if you appear ON SET for the Today Show, they do you up, but if you work elsewhere, you’re on your own. Fine. Of course I almost never wear make-up because it irritates my skin and also I am incredibly lazy, but I figured I was all set because I had JUST bought all new make-up before Otto and I got married last spring!
I went rifling through my oft-ignored make-up drawer and discovered, of course, that my expensive foundation was gloppy and my mascara was dried up and that I still really hate that blush, so I ran out the day before I left to buy new make-up. I spent, um, really more than a person who hates make-up should spend, but I figured that GIVEN my skin sensitivity I really shouldn’t mess around, right? I bought the EXTRA SPECIAL ADDITIVE FREE SUITABLE FOR FINICKY SUPER-SENSITIVE SKIN foundation, and believe you me, they had to use really small letters to fit all of that on the bottle. Hooboy.
Then I went to New York and applied all of my make-up in the backseat of a car while trying not to puke, and I got there and everyone assured me that I looked great, and then we did our thing for however long it was—six years, was it?—and then I finally left and went and got checked into my hotel, at which time I took out my EXTRA SPECIAL ADDITIVE FREE SUITABLE FOR FINICKY SUPER-SENSITIVE SKIN facial wash and washed my face.
And it BURNED.
“Huh,” thought I, “that’s WEIRD. Oh well! I’m sure I’m imagining!”
Except that the next morning, I washed my face again and it didn’t burn (yay!) but then I put on moisturizer and THAT burned.
Because my skin, my preshus delicate skin, this is apparently how it says “FOUNDATION? I’M MELTING!” And the kicker, of course, is that BECAUSE my skin is so easily irritated, it often has red areas and/or breakouts and it would be REALLY NICE to be able to wear foundation on a regular basis to hide that stuff. But I can’t. Due to my delicatosity.
(That is totally a word. Even if I did just make it up just now.)
I firmly believe that New York City herself somehow found out that I was feeling less than charitable towards her, because someone clearly snuck in to my room that last night and put a pea underneath my mattress. I woke up with my neck all kinds of screwed up, and it STILL isn’t back to normal. I am hoping that a few days of relative silence and the comfort of this nice plastic bubble I’ve decided to live in will fix me right up. I’m sure it will. If it doesn’t, I guess I could just vow never to leave home again, but that seems rather… limiting.
Even for a delicate flower such as myself.