I’ve got a little sister, she’s seventeen.
Those two carriage returns were me silently voicing my promise to violently maim and kill any male reader of this column who asks the ever so popular and oh-so-deep question, “Is she hot?”
The answer is, of course she is, she’s my sister after all. She’s like a miniature version of me, wan winter complexion and all. Somehow she pulls it off, which speaks to either her great personality or my possible future as a drag queen, we’re not sure yet.
All familial bragging aside, I only bring Kate (that’s her name) up because I got the chance to hang with her a couple weeks back. She and two other little girls were staying with me for the weekend, one of them was going to the airport or something, she might have been German, I wasn’t really paying attention.
What do you do with three seventeen year old girls who’ve never really seen New York? You do Touristy Shit®, that’s what.
Touristy Shit® is the worst, man. It’s waiting on line to go up the Empire State building, it’s walking around just to “enjoy the city,” it’s getting on one of those double decker buses because you’ve never had the amazing experience of seeing traffic from ten feet up, I don’t know. I hate Touristy Shit®.
It was a Saturday, it was gorgeous out, 70 in the sun and breezy in the shade. It was the kind of day that makes you want to find a field just break out running, or wrestle a giant dog and fight bare knuckled with a gypsy, you know, Country Shit®.
What did we do? Where did we go? Chinatown. Because as we all know, there is nothing more fun to do on a beautiful Saturday than trudging through mile after mile of fourteen inch wide sidewalks with a billion other tourists. It’s a manure-truckload of fun.
Nothing makes me hate this city more than doing Touristy Shit®, and Chinatown on a Saturday is the worst offender of all. For me, it just brings out the worst in this city. Mind you, not the actual location, or its inhabitants, but just the whole mob of tourists wandering around looking to buy some trinket to bring home to their family in some Red State and say, “Look Ma, lookit what I done gotten from the Orientaltown!”
The crap you can buy in Chinatown is about as Chinese as a Yankee Doodle Hot Dog covered in Grits, soaked in moonshine and sprinkled with bits of crushed AOL 9.0 CD’s. Oooooh look, a JADE BUDDHA, holy shit, people back home are going to FLIP the fuck out man. C’mon, they sell the SAME thing in each store, only in different colors, I felt like such an ass, parading my baby sister through this consumer blood lust, basically saying, “Look, this is where I live, this is the best I’ve got to offer.”
Two other awesome things happened in Chinatown that really made me love how the day was going even more:
1) I drank two pots of green tea and had to urinate so bad that I almost imploded in on my bladder eventually forming into one tensed up sphincter muscle. I had to bribe a SECURITY GUARD at McDonald’s to let me skip the line to the bathroom. C.R.E.A.M. Dollar dollar bills, y’all.
That was really fun.
2) As we were walking down Mott street, trying desperately, earnestly, painfully to find a pair of those little cutsey slipper sandals, WHERE LORD, OH WHERE can you find a pair of those little slipper sandals?!? (Psst, small Chinese women grow them hydroponically in the substrata below Chinatown), we got a real treat.
As I looked to my right, I saw, standing in the afternoon sun, looking amazingly happy, an Asian lady of about 40 or 50 years. She was staring off into the distance, toothy grin on her face. I smiled as well, thinking, hey, maybe everything ain’t so bad, she’s happy, I should be happy too.
As my cheeks rose and as my eyes begin to sink, I saw why she was happy. Her forearm was moving rapidly, like she was playing Yahtzee and shaking the dice cup. Only there were no dice, and her cup was her crotch. She was working herself like a third job at the Food Court taken to help with Junior’s college tuition.
What was the worst of all was how easily my little sister took this all in stride. Crowded city streets and tacky “cultural” merchandise? Hey, that’s New York, right? Crazed street masturbators? Heh, only in New York right?
I spent the rest of the day in a complete funk, and not the good diaper wearing parliament kind of funk. Is this how the rest of the world sees our city? As a morally depraved collective of junk peddlers? Probably.
While my saint of a girlfriend took the girls off my hands for an hour to go shopping in midtown, I took the chance to wander the streets and get my head wrapped around the day as a whole. Is New York just a giant market place for tacky merchandise? Is what we’ve come to? Have we gone from the greatest city in the world to just being the greatest gift shop? Should I shave my chest? Is my nipple hair too long?
These questions burning a hole in my head I almost walked right by it, a public atrium. I have a few rules that I live by:
1) I don’t eat fruit.
2) I only see movies that think will make me laugh.
3) I will always, no matter the occasion, enter a public atrium, just because it is public, and that means I can.
Consider it the most lame case of sticking it to the man you’ve ever heard of, but it’s my little bit of social entitlement and I’m sticking with it.
You know what I found in there? The Aristotle Onassis Cultural Center. It was underground, it was unadvertised, it had a HUGE collection of Greek artifacts from the time of Alexander the Great. While the rest of the city was out buying crap that they didn’t need, seeing stuff that everyone’s already seen, there I was, twenty feet under the sidewalk looking at a two thousand year old sword, funerary ornaments and orginal marble busts of one of the most famous people to have ever walked the earth (no, not George Clooney).
I came out of there knowing for a fact that everyone else in the world’s got us pegged wrong. New York is the city that we brag about, it is the cultural center we all want it to be. Just sometimes you have to go out looking for it, and if that means climbing a few stairs, then just trust me, it’s worth it.