New York stories: Chris Gethard shares a New York memory

Guest blogger Chris Gethard tells us why running into a guy outside of a midtown porn store made him love New York.

Chris Gethard

Chris Gethard

Welcome to "New York Stories," in which some of our favorite New Yorkers tell a story—funny, heartwarming, sad, whatever—about this great city. This week, Chris Gethard reminds us of the weird, wonderful things you may see on a random NYC block—and why they can be so inspiring.

The reasons I love New York are many and varied. I’ve resisted the siren call of Los Angeles for a few years now and hope to figure out how to continue to do so for as long as possible. How do I put into a few short words why I think New York is the best place to live, to play, to flex one’s creative muscle? When I sit and ponder why I have such affection for this place, this story just about sums it up:

One night after doing a late-night comedy show and then hanging out at a bar afterward, I found myself walking south on either Eighth or Ninth Avenue, in that stretch between Port Authority and Penn Station. I stood on a corner somewhere in the upper 30s, waiting for traffic to pass so I could get across the street. It was well after three in the morning. Not uncommon for that stretch of town, I looked up to realize I was standing in front of a pornography store—the kind with the masturbation booths.

A man strolled out of said store with a relaxed smile on his face, made eye contact with me, nodded and headed directly into the next storefront: one of the many hot dog joints with "Papaya" in its name, an iconic New York business theme if ever there was one.

A completely sincere wave of joy hit me in that moment, and I think of it often when I get down on this town. I’d bet that New York City is the only place in the world where at three in the morning you can say to yourself, "I really want to ejaculate, but I’d rather not fire up my own computer. Also, I’m hungry for a hot dog, but I’d rather not cook it myself. Which will I choose? The pursuit of ejaculation, or the pursuit of a hot dog?" and can then honestly reply to yourself, "I don’t have to choose. Those things are available 24 hours a day. Within steps of each other."

If you can both come and eat a hot dog at three in the morning on the same block, what dream can’t you make into reality in NYC? The possibilities that man suggested to me that night seem limitless and inspiring.

Chris Gethard performs at the UCB Theatre on Feb 7; you can also catch The Chris Gethard Show every Wednesday at 11pm on Manhattan Neighborhood Network. For tickets to a live taping of TCGS, email Gethard's memoir, A Bad Idea I'm About to Do, is available now.