Since I started writing here, I’ve become accustomed to the everyday spotting of differences between the UK and the US, and between London and New York. Whether I’m riding the subway, eating in a restaurant or buying something from a
shopstore, there’s always a strange quirk that makes me reali sze that I am truly a Brit Out Of Water.
But for all the oddities and peculiarities, there are times when I forget that I’m even in New York. Caught up in my own private world as I travel to work in the morning, I could be in any thriving metropolitan centre with its collection of Starbucks, McDonalds and weary commuters. Only the occasional sight of a skyscraper miles uptown as I cross an avenue reminds me that I’m actually in the city that never sleeps.
For all the differences, when it actually comes down to it, New York is just like London.
Except with less friends.
Having only been here four months, I’m yet to develop any meaningful friendships that haven’t been handed to me on a plate by The Special One. All the people at work are great and very friendly, but I’m not exactly hanging out at bars with them every week. And given that I’m British (with all the reserve and stiff upper lip that entails), I’m hardly going to make friendships with random people I meet on the streets.
To be honest, even if I met no new people, that’d be fine with me. The Special One has some incredible friends and family members, all of whom I love spending time with. And plenty of my UK friends including The Best Man, Sickly Child, The Tat Collector and the MacBottoms (don’t ask) have made trips to New York since the wedding. I’m not suffering from lack of attention, let’s face it.
Besides, after overhearing a conversation in Carroll Gardens this afternoon, I’m not sure I even want to make friends in New York.
As I waited in a
queueline to buy a random collection of products from the store that sells everything, a young-ish man with a dog stood a few people behind me chatting animatedly (read: loudly) on his mobilecellphone to an acquaintance. And the prize line that came out of his mouth as he laughed?
“You know me, I like to recycle my friends like water.”
Now, a couple of things spring immediately to mind here. First, what kind of city is this where people think that they can just pass on their friends to other people when they’re tired of them? And more importantly, if you are the kind of person who talks of recycling their friends, what possesses you to boast about it to another ‘friend’? If that’s friendship, I’ll content myself with watching Fox Soccer Channel on my own, thanks very much.
More importantly, if you’re going to be an obnoxious dick, at least try to use language that – say – makes sense. Recycling friends like water? Maybe there’s a secret community of domestic New York water recyclers, swapping gallons of bath water and urine on a daily basis? Or perhaps he really does have a water butt on his roof, and every time he uses it to fill his sink, he has to pass on a friend to somebody else?
I’m all for doing my bit for the environment by recycling, but everybody’s got to draw the line somewhere. I think I’ll stick with the friends I’ve got, thanks very much.