Ah, another visitor is coming into town this weekend! You’re so looking forward to spending time with your friend, sibling or parent and showing them around New York City, your home. They stare wide-eyed at the Empire State Building, nervously navigate crowds and even squeal at the sight of a bagel-eating rat. You share dollar slices, walk the High Line and have a damn good time. Then they say it: “New York City is great, but I could never live here.”
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When a proper hostess gives up her precious time and energy to whisk a lucky visitor around this winsome, life-affirming city, she does not relish this rude comment—in fact, it pisses her off. She thinks, This is how you repay me for taking you to my favorite dumpling spot (Vanessa’s) and dive bar (Maracuja)? This is my reward for walking with you over the packed Brooklyn Bridge, even though I’d never willingly do that on a Saturday afternoon on my own time? Perhaps the proper hostess is stunned not so much by the affront to her chosen home as by the gum-smacking, goodbye-and-good-luck passive-aggressiveness of the entire situation.
I know NYC is dirty and crowded and loud as hell—those are three characteristics on which pretty much no one, local or not, would disagree. But why come to my house and say, “Your place is lovely, but I find it absolutely uninhabitable”? Okay! Thanks for saying that out loud! Go back to your wide-open roads, your verdant lawn, your lavish square footage and your clean, noiseless, uncomplicated contentment! Surely there is no other place anyone could ever want to be.
Yeah, we may be jealous of all of those things and may even find New York almost unlivable from time to time, but only we can say that. (Even though we won’t.)