New Yorkers (Don’t Always) Smile for Perfectly Good Reasons

If you oppose the City of New York because the people don’t smile, okay. Cool. Find a friend at your local Applebee’s and connect to the world as some suggest it be connected with: over a chuckle and 3x5s and an invitation to a cookout sponsored by the local Presbyterian baseball team. I’m not particularly interested in any of things and don’t oppose the City of New York. But if you do because the people here don’t smile, I get your point.  I disagree that it should bother you. But through select observations of the people of the United States, I can understand how some might want to be smiled at upon encountering a stranger. But if there was ever a place where that wasn’t necessary; if there was ever a place where a smile could be everything it was never intended to be, New York is that place.

New York City is lonely.  Every where is evidence of a life that surpasses every vision of your future you could potentially allow yourself to imagine.  Which is kind of depressing. Now. If we could wallow in New Hampshire, we would. There in desolation, loneliness is less of a symptom and more of a concept; a glorious product of isolation and stillness. Though undoubtedly alone, we are undoubtedly our own.  That’s satisfying: the choice to abandon the world’s definitions of fun or success or meaning or excitement to a nothingness nature doesn’t intend to interfere with.  But we aren’t that lucky. Our loneliness takes us to the fourth season of Parks and Recreation on a Saturday morning. Reasoning how you’ve worked all week and you pay so much for this apartment you might as well stay here as you’re watching Netflix from your window while bottomless mimosas are swallowed under your apartment window. I’ve learned to rationalize in these kind of situations. I like being alone. If the sign of an introvert is that they’re the ones who recharge when they are alone, then New York is a city of introverts. But that’s easy.

New Yorkers don’t smile because our presence is assumed. If you had to acknowledge every energy from every entity that surrounded you, you’d explode. It’s uncomfortable. It’s exhausting. When a New Yorker doesn’t smile, it’s because they’re giving you a gift: a chance to find your space in a world designed to give you know. You are on top of your roommate and together you are on top of your neighbors who are on top of the harem you hear on the 3rd floor of your makeshift apartment which is above the bodega with a cat between the plums and the peaches. If the cat said “hello” and her owner said “hello” and the orgy said “hello” you wouldn’t be able to make it to your apartment before snapping at your roommate for leaving his dishes on the bookshelf/wine rack/shoe rack.

There aren’t smiles because smiles and words aren’t necessary. It’s obvious you are there. No matter how you get to work or where you like to drink or where you like to convince yourself you’ve disconnect from the anatomy of New York City, you’ve failed. I’m close. This is why you don’t smile either.

But you don’t have to ask me to watch your computer when you want to go to the bathroom.  Obviously, I’ve seen it. Obviously, I’ve seen you. Obviously, I know its yours.Be at peace. I’ll watch it. But when you ask me to watch it, you’ve made my interest in your life beyond all my interest this City demands it needs to be. My life sucks. Help me make it suck less. I’ll make your life suck less too. By keeping my head down and out of your way. With an eye on your Apple computer with a ten open tabs on your browser. Two on Facebook. One on Twitter.


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