You’re Not a New Yorker Until…

In all my years of living in and visiting New York City, I’ve never had a celebrity sighting1. I’ve always felt somehow slighted by this, as if I’d missed out on some crucial newbie New Yorker initiation and couldn’t consider myself part of the tribe until I had this final experience, this top thing on the top twenty list of things. Things like, you know…

  1. seeing the Underwear Cowboy perform in the middle of Times Square
  2. walking by the giant blow-up rat during a labor strike
  3. getting shat upon by a pigeon (after laughing your ass off at your husband-then-boyfriend who got shat upon milliseconds before you)
  4. having someone quote the bible to you loudly on the train as if you are going straight to hell and need to be as prepared as possible
  5. getting followed from the train by a would-be psycho looking to make new friends
  6. giving a tourist directions in all confidence and realizing moments later that you totally sent him the wrong way2, and then dodging into Starbucks for 20 minutes just so he doesn’t come back and see you
  7. getting yelled at in multiple languages for no apparent reason
  8. sitting in something unidentifiable on the subway and then trying to ignore it all day but you can’t, okay, you just can’t
  9. seeing the umbrella graveyard the day after a storm
  10. having to pay rent in cash because the landlord may or may not be in the “family”
  11. falling in the middle of the street in front of oncoming traffic and having people walk faster to get by before the cars come and you know they’re laughing on the inside, too
  12. locking your keys in the car with the car running while pulling partway but not all the way into a parking garage and backing up traffic in Tribeca for 45 minutes during morning rush hour while awaiting a locksmith while everyone curses and beeps and flips you off
  13. paying $15 in ATM fees in a single day
  14. getting serenaded by a mariachi band, a saxophonist, a kettle drummer, an accordianist, and a Christian rapper on the subway in a single commute
  15. accidentally walking around with your skirt tucked right into your stockings and when you notice it and freak out in the middle of the sidewalk and stop and try to rearrange yourself without attracting attention, you realize that you’re standing in front of the David Letterman Show studio right around the time they start looking for crazies like you to put in some comedy sketch about weird New Yorkers
  16. having a coffee guy who sees you every morning and knows how you like your coffee and has it ready for you as you approach and even though you never exchange names, he’s always your coffee guy and this somehow makes you kindred spirits
  17. getting your first Manhattan job and being all young and idealistic only to quickly learn how much the working world sucks
  18. watching someone faint and fall into the subway tracks and helping her out but then secretly being afraid to touch her because like ewww she just fell into the tracks and all you can think is “Ohmigod go home right now and boil yourself!”
  19. elbowing someone stealthily but really, really hard in the ribs after she tried to shove you onto the train, and of course…
  20. sighting aforementioned celebrity.

So how fitting that tonight, during a “Farewell, New York” dinner with a friend at yummy Candle 79, not one, not two, but three celebs sat at the table directly across from us. Our service plummeted dramatically after that, but it was worth it just to have this final New York experience. I resisted the urge to dig out my camera and take a few pics on the down low, because you know, I didn’t want to be that guy at the party. Okay I mean I kind of did want to be that guy, but ultimately I wasn’t. Because someday when I’m Kind of a Big Deal Around Here, I’ll want to dine out in peace without the YA paparazzi trying to sneak shots at me for their blogs3.

Wait, is there a YA paparazzi? I don’t even know. Either way, now I can leave New York next week feeling completely initiated!

Can you guess the celeb identities from these hints?

  • Celeb #1: Ordered a virgin bloody mary. As a recovering alcoholic bartender, he tries to stay away from the sauce.
  • Celeb #2: After the waitress described the chef’s own special creation — curry-encrusted, fig-garnished seitan over cauliflower and brown basmati rice — he replied, “yeah, but your chefs were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
  • Celeb #3: Ordered rabbit stew. It was kind awkward, considering Candle 79 is a vegan joint, but when she held up that big knife, the waitress knew she wasn’t messing around.

1. Unless you count that time I was carrying giant clunky heavy boxes by myself from my office on Broadway to my new office on Duane Street because my boss decided to go out of town during our moving day and the then-mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, stormed right by me, yelling at his minions who looked like they might have offered to help me if they’re scary tyrannical boss wasn’t there. Or the time I was ordering lunch in the deli across from work and made a joke about the guy in the sunglasses paying for my sandwich, so he looked over and called me a wisenheimer… he may or may not have been Al Pacino, but I’ve no documented proof and as Alex knows, I’m not always so good with faces.
2. This just happened to me last night, actually.
3. Seriously. You can totally blog-stalk me. Actually I want you to blog-stalk me. Please?