Late at night, my otherwise placid Golden Retriever will suddenly lift her nose, sniff the air and growl. With the fur on her neck standing up, she will dash to one of the windows and begin barking wildly. We know what it means: Javelina are in the yard.
Right now, something similar is happening in New York City. Gaunt young men hiding needle tracks with their hooded sweatshirts have their noses in the air. A tourist is walking the streets. A mugger magnet from Arizona. My dear wife. Saints preserve us.
She has a long layover today on the way to Frankfurt, Germany, so she decided to spend the day seeing the sights in the Big Apple. She called me on her cell this morning.
MM (Mugger Magnet): I saw the Empire State Building!
WS (Wary Spouse): You didn’t look up, did you? On Seinfeld, New Yorkers never look up at the buildings. Looking up is a dead giveaway that you’re a rube from the sticks.
MM: I’m fine. It’s windy and cold here. Look, there’s Macy’s!
WS: Are you pointing? Don’t point, they’ll spot that in a heartbeat. Look bored, and angry.
MM: Stop worrying, I’m fine. Here comes a nice young man with his pants around his ankles. I’m going to get him to take my picture in front of Macy’s.
WS: Have you lost your mind! Put… the camera… away… NOW! You hang your camera around your neck and it’s like throwing red meat to a herd of crocodiles.
MM: You’re wrong. He was very nice, and he told me that since it was my first time in the city, he’d only charge me half of the official tourist photo rate. Just $5! New Yorkers are nice people.
WS: You never really paid attention when we were watching Seinfeld, did you? Over a thousand tourists disappear in that city every day, and that’s AFTER Rudy cleaned the place up. Never let go of your purse. Don’t trust anyone!
MM: I wonder if I’m going in the right direction?
WS: Good heavens, don’t act lost!! Walk over right now to a store front and pretend like you’re window shopping. Then look at the reflection and see if anybody is watching you. I saw Robert Redford do that in Three Days of the Condor. If it looks like you’re being followed, casually go into the store and look for an exit into the alley.
MM: I found the subway. I’m heading to Ground Zero, or maybe Times Square. Don’t worry, I’m just fine. I love you.
WS: The subway! Remember to stand back from the tracks! New Yorkers push tourists onto the tracks for sport!
And so, another innocent tourist blithely steps into the maw of the beast known deceptively as the Big Apple. It was an apple, after all, that doomed Adam and Eve. I hope my wife fares better.
Photo credit: NYAppleCountry.com