A Tourist in Tow
This past weekend happened to be one of 4-6 weekends in the spring time which qualify as “spring break” for the school-going crowd, so it was a nice surprise when I got an email a couple weeks ago from my mom saying that she and my sisters were coming for a visit on one of their weekends off.
They arrived this past Friday and it was four days of beautiful weather, walking and eating. My family is no stranger to the city, as they’ve been here several times, so I am usually pleased when they come and I can show them what “real” New Yorkers do – meaning eating at the most tasty, little known restaurants in the city, shopping in all the best little boutiques, and walking the most scenic streets the city has to offer. Despite the indulgences, there is one tourist activity that always remains on the list, and it has been one of my most loathed activities since setting foot on the island - a trip to Canal Street.
Canal Street is chalk full of fake designer handbags, watches, scarves and jewelry. The area is notoriously overcrowded and always involves high levels of harassment by locals all in the name of supporting black market items worth a fraction of what you actually pay. Never mind the fabulous dim sum in the area, follow a strange Chinese woman into a back alleyway, get locked into a basement bunker and get your fake Louis today!
When my sisters announced a long list of Canal Street needs for friends back in the Mid-West, instead of scowling, this time I decided to turn over a new leaf. This was my family after-all, and if they want a fake bag so be it! So I grinned and bared it. About an hour into our little shopping trip, I decided I not only was I going to tolerate Chinatown, but I was also going to say “fuck it,” and act like a tourist all weekend (with noted exceptions of “real” New York activity). Why the hell not? Who was I trying to impress?
In my effort to blend in with the tourist crowd I:
- Wore tennis shoes all weekend
- Smiled and posed for pictures when prompted
- Accompanied my black Chinatown-bag-carrying family to locations across the city and didn’t care to be seen with the bags
- Went to Saks, Bloomingdales and Tiffany’s all on the same day
- Saw Phantom of the Opera
Amongst other things…
The funny thing about this weekend was, I was on my own stomping ground here in NYC - a place with a conscious level of attitude, status, image and pretension – and I felt devoid of the normal pressures to live up to it all. Now, to be clear, I certainly don’t have the resources to claim a high level of anything I just mentioned (as a lowly PR girl and all), however all New Yorkers know that by living here we do exude a certain amount of the above simply because that is the social dust the city leaves on you.
The difference between this past weekend and the norm is that it was refreshing to allow my family to bring some down-to-earth mid-westerness my way. I was in my own city but completely unaware of the need to care about anything other than having a good time. In my case, a good time happened to be perusing Canal Street shops to see my sisters excited about their new Coach knock offs.
It was a great weekend of careless fun, and frankly I’m sad to go back to the normal grind. After a weekend in kickers, I finally realize heels really do kill your feet!
Somebody stop me before I buy loafers...