There are many myths about New York: That everyone here has money (unless you’re a Brooklyn hipster, in which case, money is too mainstream for you). That everyone here is rude (only in direct proportion to the rest of the populace, though maybe a smidge ruder than Boise). That everybody picks on New Jersey (some areas do smell, though, don’t they?). That everyone here battles mice, cockroaches, or bed bugs in their apartments (I’ve not seen any of those things in person…. yet). That everyone goes out on Friday and Saturday nights (correction: only on the nights ending in “y”). That all the stores stay open late or are open 24 hours (bars do stay open late – sometimes until three or four in the morning – but there are actually very few shops open past 10:00 p.m. Where do you think you are – Hoboken?)
If there’s one myth that persists, though, it’s this: that the city will provide whatever you need, whenever you need it. It’s true that the variety of goods and experiences one can have here certainly outnumbers anywhere else I’ve lived. I’ve eaten pizza at Joe’s in the Village at two in the morning; hugged the actor, Mark Ruffalo; witnessed with joy the passing of marriage equality; and never blinked an eye when an old neighbor took outdoor showers, naked. That’s just New York, as other New Yorkers are wont to say.
Still, New York doesn’t have everything. This is true especially:
If you have wide feet. Good luck. I mean that in general, too: good luck with life if you have wide feet. I’ll just stand back and watch you drag your thick, rectangular hooves all over town trying to find shoes. As I’ve come to learn, you might as well skip the shoes and just wear the shoeboxes instead. I have double-E wide feet and a whole host of other problems due to funky genetics and years as a tween figure skater. When I moved here, I thought I might run across a cute boutique that catered to the Rubenesque-footed among us – offering row after row of sexy pumps and stylish boots that for years remained out of my reach. SHOES! We were cavemen until Carrie Bradshaw, quintessential New Yorker, showed us how to wear shoes. This is where it all started, for pete’s sake jiminy christmas. New York City shoe stores were going to free me from buying shoes from orthopedic catalogs, shoes described as “supportive” and dyed colors like moss and functional brown.
You know how this turns out, don’t you? I never found such a store, because my hopefulness made me delusional. Very few New York shoe stores carry wide shoes due to “warehouse space issues” – that is, the rent is too damn high. The stores can only carry what the majority wears, limited by the amount of shelf space they have. Makes sense, right? Tell that to my heart. Until someone can come up with such a store and then pay me for giving them the idea, I will continue to rely on my hit-or-miss experiences with Zappos.com and hope to come across the occasional gem at DSW. (I know what you’re thinking: I might as well live in New Jersey.)
If you have curly hair. In the past two weeks, I’ve broken two unbreakable combs. You know the ones they sell at CVS that have a lifetime guarantee never to break? Mm hm. Two of those. The first one I threw away. For the second one, after refusing to accept the reality that I’d broken yet another comb, I super-glued the broken tooth back in its spot. I let the comb hang on my shower basket to dry overnight. The next day, I flung it against the floor, pulled at it, then bit it. The super glue did what it said it would do; my comb was whole again. I dragged it through my hair and smiled. Dragged it through again. Then, on the third drag, I heard something fall to the floor: the tooth had again fallen off, and this time, it had taken a sister with it.
I have curly hair. It’s thick and sometimes knotty. You would think that in a city filled with all sorts of ethnicities and races, every other hair stylist would be trained in handling curly hair. (At beauty school, the course is called Advanced Styling 401: Ornery Hair.) When I first sought out a new salon, I happened across an affordable master stylist (sarcastic quote-end quote) who herself had curly hair that she ironed straight every day. She assessed my head for a moment, then started in with thinning shears. The whole time, she berated me for not taking better care of my curls by using more expensive products – and by the way, she had a few such products at this very salon; was I interested? (So there’s at least one rude New Yorker, if you’re keeping count.)
After that bad date, I had a few more unsuccessful attempts to try to find someone. It turns out that New York is like the rest of the country: straight hair rules. Finally, I accidentally landed on a brilliant stylist who understood what I needed and gave me some of the best cuts (and color) I’ve ever had. She even did her best to correct the work of the previous stylist. (Neat tidbit: if you have curly hair, never ever let someone use thinning shears on you.)
But, last month, I learned that my new bestest salon friend had picked up and moved to Hollywood, California to do hair for movie stars and just generally provide her body with more Vitamin D. WELL GOOD FOR YOU THEN.
So here I am, back at square one, rocking in the corner holding a broken comb.
If you want a good burrito. Don’t you dare point me to Chipotle or I will put you in a basket and push you down the river. Those burritos are fine, I guess, if you consider the dirt-chalk that is Hershey’s to be fine chocolate. In Boston, Anna’s Taqueria reigns supreme for its soft tortillas, cheesy cheese, and that magic meat, al pastor. I have not found its equivalent here in New York. And for that, I shed a single horchata tear.
So there you have it: the things New York cannot provide. Maybe it’s time to start exploring New Jersey?