Last Thursday, I fell over. I was on Grand Avenue in Queens, on the ground in the middle of the street, in front of a man in a black sedan, fumbling to get out of my pedals like David Blane drunk on the Vegas strip trying to undo his handcuffs. The man in the Hyundai gave me this look along the lines of: "Should I run you over now, or are you really going to make me miss this light?"
I didn't particular want to do this blog either, but I told myself I was going to commit to the first thing I'd committed to since the seventh season of Scrubs, and the fact that I realized I could buy two Coors Banquets at a bodega on Jamaica Avenue in spare quarters made all of this much more tolerable. Anyway, back to the story.
It was that moment, closer to the grimy Queens pavement that I would have preferred to be, than I realized clipless pedals were a poor choice. They require you to wear special (read: dorky) shoes, and mechanically attach yourself to the bicycle. And that's all well and good, until the moment you forget you're clipped in, and slowly tip over onto the ground like the losing turn in a game of Jenga (but bloodier, bruised, and more embarrassed).
New York will knock you down like that. To get back up on the horse (no pun intended but I'll take it anyway), I took my newfound insurance-broker friend up on an invite to the Belmont Stakes.
I showed up to 20 Exchange Street at 8:30 a.m. The building is the former Citibank headquarters in the Financial District, and it features 1-bedroom apartments for $3,500/month. By 9 a.m., I was making friends with a pint of Brooklyn Brewery summer ale with three Goldman Sachs investment bankers, who seemed cool at first. They're my age, but their time is worth $70/hour, which evidently makes me seven times less important.
But I'd like to think I'm seven times less of a tool. These are the type of people who complain that summering in Montauk is "played out." These are the type of people who make six figures straight out of college and whine about not billing enough overtime. These are the type of people who throw down $400 on one horse race like they're buying a Snickers bar. One of them, whose name I'll redact because I assume his daddy has a high-powered lawyer that will sue me all the way to Uzbekistan and back, said that the Stanford swimmer was justified because "all he did was finger a girl."
So we get to the Stakes, and the investment-tools must have their cigars, because that's what post-college trust fund bros do. Earlier in the day, my friend (who had to leave early due to partying-induced illness) had told the bros that I'm a sex and dating writer for Men's Health, on intern pay. Holding a Macanudo (which costs about $8 at any respectable gas station), one of them turns to me and says: "See this? $17. That's about two hours of work for you, huh?"
So I told them to get bent and bounced. Hope you don't choke on daddy's trust-fund-silver-spoon . Actually, I hope you do.
Anyway, about New York knocking you down. I walked three miles with a 30-pound backpack today because I got my fourth flat tire of the week on the way back from SoHo. I'm flat broke, and I eat refried beans and tortillas for most of my meals.
But dollar pizza makes it all OK. If you're not familiar, dollar pizza is the great equalizer between the rich, the poor, and everyone in-between in Manhattan. Men in Bonobos suits and Florsheim loafers line up next to delivery guys in high-visibility vests and steel-toe boots for a triangle of greasy, flimsy, pre-diabetic goodness. For the poor, it's not so much a conscious decision as a necessity of survival. But for the rich, it's a lifestyle—a signal that even once you make it, the little things that helped you along the way are never forgotten.
If you want to find the good people in New York, get a slice of dollar pizza. I'm pretty sure it's what the American Dream tastes like.