It was Wednesday night at around 7 p.m. I’d been laid up in bed for hours, dividing my time between sleeping through my disgustingly persistent head cold and scrolling through my iPhone with a lackluster eye, looking for anything — anything — to make me laugh. No dice. What was the last thing in the world I felt like doing? Going out on the town on this blustery Wednesday night to delve into the unique culture and unparalleled swarm of fascinating human interaction that is New York City.
I didn’t feel like observing or absorbing. I kind of just felt like guzzling NyQuil and watching Kourtney and Khloe take Miami on Netflix until I passed out on my keyboard in a clogged, fuzzy haze. Ah, bliss. But I had a job to do — a journalistic need to penetrate the darkest and most mysterious corners of our metropolitan playground. Screw it, I proclaimed, jolting upright suddenly from a pile of Kleenex and fuzzy blankets. Times Square it was.
Why Times Square, you ask? Because Times Square sucks. Everyone knows this. It is the definitive hub of tourism, advertising, kitch, popular culture, i.e. everything that an NYU undergrad has been taught to vehemently abhor. Times Square might as well be the underbelly of the “real” New York City, with its technicolor neons and giant scrolling letters urging you to BE HAPPY, BE THIN, SPEND MONEY.
Personally, I don’t mind that stuff all that much. I’m always in the mood for a giant hot pretzel and a few glittery Sephora products. However, with my temperature inching towards feverish and my nose refusing to de-stuff, the prospect of lights as bright as day and midwestern tourists demanding to know where the bathroom is wasn’t exactly savory. Whatever, life is hard, I did it anyway. I also dragged my boyfriend along so he could buy me dinner and mock people with me. Sorry, boyfriend.
Our plan was originally to go to Applebees or Guy Fieri’s American Bar, but the prospect of going to a restaurant ironically made my stomach bubble with acidic embarrassment.
Regardless, after wandering through a tented flower exhibit set up outside of Macy’s, which featured a huge, trippy, painted fake elephant, we wound up at the Brooklyn Diner.
Note: the Brooklyn Diner is weird. When I visited, there were weirdly sepia-toned paintings of cake and cupcakes on the wall and the only music they played was The Who’s greatest hits (to my boyfriend’s endless delight) and our tablecloth was paper. The food, however, was delicious, and when I let out a throaty “yum!” when our vanilla milkshake arrived, our waiter was delighted.
“My girlfriend does the exact same thing whenever food comes,” he said.
Then he proceeded to imitate my food-anticipatory battle cry, and got some weird looks from the clearly conservative clad-in-all-black family of five in the next booth over. Chill, guys.
In short, this week I resigned myself to the lowest form of New York culture available to a cheap and mildly ill college student. With foul food and a foul state of mind, I expected to hate everything about the commercial Wonderland that encapsulates Times Square.
In the end I didn’t because, like any other sane person on the planet I was swayed in favor of liking the place by good-tasting food. So, as much as you may want to, try not to hate on Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen & Bar. I’m hopeful that the ribs are good enough for you to forgive any amount of tacky decor.