Some days going to New York City feels like that old Henny Youngman joke: Doctor, it hurts when I do that! So don’t do that.
The feelings of envy and jealousy start right around Yonkers when I tune in WFUV. Now that station is a gem and they’ve played my records and had me on the air many many times so no complaints but when I’m driving into the city every record they play is not me, is further proof that I’m nowhere and everyone else in the whole world is putting out way more work than me and playing to thousands of people wherever they go, invited to perform at festivals and events and hey everybody, Courtney Barnett is playing four sold out nights at Bowery Ballroom and I’m in a downward spiral of self-pity and I haven’t even started seeing the fabulous high-rises and gorgeous buildings along the West Side Highway that I’ll never live in. (I get the same feelings looking at the Sunday Times but at least I can fling a paper into the recycling bin).
I had a book-related meeting and so was able to console myself I’m taking action and moving things along and that must’ve made me feel brave and strong because I actually went into the Whole Foods at Union Square. This place is pure intimidation but I desperately needed a bathroom. And then I was sucked in and found myself caressing soy candles “wow they have such sophisticated things here, if I buy one of these candles life will look and smell like a magazine!” Then it was time to check out and I felt pretty befuddled, it was this complex horse paddock system but everyone else seemed so blase and confident I just copied them. When it felt like my turn I casually went to a register.
“You jumped the line,” a man came up behind me at one of the thirty cashiers. “They called 25 and you went from the red line and that’s not how the system works, you should’ve waited.”
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize!” I said.
“We don’t do that here!” he continued. “You have to follow the system.”
The cashier stepped in. “Look, she only has two items – I’ll take you next, sir.”
When she handed me my bag , I told the man again that I was sorry.
“I don’t think you are. I think you’re very insincere with that,” he said.
“Okay, I was sorry before. I really was,” I said. “But now I’m not. So fuck you.”
The magic was working! In just over a couple hours, I was a leaner, meaner version of myself.
I was a New Yorker again.
“Good,” the man said.