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The many mysterious drips of New York in the summer

The many mysterious drips of New York in the summer
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Bonnie Natko

The other day I made the mistake of looking up in New York City during the summer. It was a reflex. A fat drop of liquid had just plopped so squarely on the center of my scalp that I wondered if the top of my head looked like a bull’s-eye. I curiously glanced toward the sky to see if a storm was brewing, and that’s when my left eyeball ended the free fall of another droplet, a few stories beneath its source: a crusty old air-conditioning unit. It’s true what they say. Some mysteries are better left unsolved.

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I should have known better. All summer long, drips and beads of mystery moisture fall from the heavens across the city. Plummeting AC condensation, rivulets of rainwater running off scaffolding, globs from incontinent seagulls—the city’s special eau de summer is always ready to land on your bare arms or in your iced coffee.

And that’s just outside. When recent summer storms flooded subway stations, it was an unhappy reminder that you’re just as likely to be dripped on underground. Rain or shine, with this humidity my local stop looks like Splinter’s dank and dripping sewer lair in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (Which makes one wonder: If it’s not raining, what’s actually in those torrents of liquid cascading down the station’s tiled walls?) And then there’s the grossest watery bead of all: the sprinkle of a fellow straphanger’s sweat.

Since it’s too hot to wear industrial rain gear all season long, I say we should embrace the spray of the city’s cooling mist. Just make sure your shots and immunizations are up to date—and consider a Silkwood shower before sitting on anything upholstered.

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