The joy of having visitors is one most of us can attest to. Granted, there are some people who can’t stand visitors. But they also generally have more than one cat, collect Reader’s Digest, and have mild rickets from lack of sunlight. I’m not saying you have to like having visitors all the time. The Good Lord knows there are plenty of times I’d much rather be with my cats and Reader’s Digest than have guests. But it’s comforting knowing people actually want to see you. Or want to use your apartment for free lodging ‘cause you happen to live in a city people want to visit.
I’m clearly not bitter about people visiting me only because I live in the Big Apple. I mean, when I lived in the Small Kinda Brownish Apple I had nary a call. But I’m sure they were just busy then. Aside from the free lodging, it’s great to visit someone you know in New York because you get the “inside scoop” on all the cool things to do. It also means you’ll be spared the trauma of going to Times Square. No, you’ll get to go to those out of the way places only true New Yorkers know about. That killer restaurant that’s tucked in the basement of an office building. The bar where you can tell the bartender an emotion and they craft the most amazing cocktail you’ve ever tasted. The best Starbucks in which to poop.
Of course, we New Yorkers are happy to oblige. I get a special satisfaction in being able to give my visitors an unforgettable experience by taking them to a special spot. The problem is that when it comes to giving folks the local experience, there’s a very real limit to the things we’re actually do. Obviously we avoid most of the tourist traps — especially Times Square (it’s the devil incarnate, you should never go there). Going to see a play is generally way too expensive for someone who spends 99% of their income on rent. Sure, there are things like art exhibits, which can be both cheap and fun, but you really need to know your visitors (“Oh so you don’t like seeing famous structures built entirely out of old Limburger? But the old cheese is a metaphor for the urban decay that’s — well you don’t have throw up. You can just say it’s not your style”).
I feel like, ultimately, the local New Yorker experience will let visitors down. I mean sure, there are those times when you randomly end up seeing a man doing burlesque with a handlebar mustache while dressed in a monkey outfit (well, mostly a monkey outfit that ends up being mostly nothing — you get the idea). But if you look across the entire scope of experience, the weird and (depending on your taste) cool monkey-mustache-burlesque type of experiences aren’t all that common. Granted, some people in the city tend to see more monkey-related burlesque than others (hence SNL’s Stefon character), but again, if you average across all people, the day-to-day occurrences are well, kinda day-to-day.
What I’m trying to say is that if you come visit me, I hope that you know what you’re getting into. Yes, you’ll eat amazing food, and sure, we’ll go to Coney Island and the Statue of Liberty and I’ll point in the general direction of Times Square. But after that first day, you’re getting the true New York experience. We’re going to go to a bar and drink. And then maybe another bar or five (no one can really know at that point). Then we’re going to get cart food at 4 in the morning and pay for a cab home that we shouldn’t be paying for cause we just blew all our money on booze. Welcome to New York, baby!