Let’s Trash the Trash Bags, Shall We?

4 Aug

Earlier this week I saw a topless woman waltzing down the sidewalk on my way back from lunch.  She wore mom jeans, a blonde curly afro wig, a drawn on mustache, and a large camera hanging around her neck flopping atop her bare chest.  Yes, she garnered a raised eyebrow or two, but for the most part, people just kept walking on by, myself included.

In New York City, everyone fits in for no other reason than because everyone stands out.  It’s the one city where it’s not unusual to see a topless woman, a life-sized Elmo, a runway model, a fabulously fashionable gay man, a corporate prepster, a too-cool hipster, an old man in suspenders and straw hat, and a homeless person in a one-block radius.  In New York, you can be who you want to be, dress how you want to dress, and do as you please without anyone giving you a second look.  Everything is fair game, and everything and everyone blends in.  Except for those damned garbage bags.

I understand that tourism is part on New York culture, and it’s part of what makes New York what it is.  Hey, if it wasn’t for tourists, how would that ginormous Applebee’s or the Olive Garden in Times Square stay afloat?  Who would be waiting in the wraparound line to submit their names to the ticket lottery to see Wicked (yes, I tried to get Wicked tickets today and yes, I’m 92% positive my friend and I were the only locals in the massive clump)?  Tourists are a natural part of the city, that I get, but there’s one thing I just cannot comprehend: the bright yellow garbage bags masquerading as rain coats.

What person shoves his or her head through a tiny whole with a hood in an oversized piece of yellow plastic and thinks, “Yep, I definitely look like a New Yorker now”?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen an actual New Yorker in Manhattan wear one of these things.  Most New Yorkers reserve their garbage bags for when a blizzard strikes and all trash gets backed up, rather than waste them frivolously in a light drizzle.  Is it too much to ask to take the money you would spend on this abomination of outerwear and put it towards a cheap Duane Reade umbrella?  Is it so hard to simply wear your normal clothing in the rain and huddle under said umbrella?  After all, a little rain never killed anybody (please, don’t be a smartass and try to call to my attention monsoons and hurricanes…you and I both know I’m not talking about such extreme weather conditions, and if I was, the trusty yellow garbage bag wouldn’t do a lick of good).  Perhaps if you were wearing a handmade piece from Alexander McQueen’s final living collection, I could understand.  But I can promise that the rain will not ruin your I Heart NY shirts and Hollister cut offs.  It will probably ruin your Forever21 sundress, but that’s what happens when you pay $12.95 for a dry-clean-only dress, so deal with it.  When a person struts through the streets of Midtown in a yellow saran wrap frock, they scream, “I just got off the tour bus straight from Kansas or Kentucky or Bumblefuck, USA where I am currently dating my relative.  I’m so excited to get a picture in front of the M&M store!”

I don’t mean to offend those of you from Kansas or Kentucky or Bumblefuck, nor do I mean to offend those of you engaging in incestuous relationships.  I’m sorry for lumping you in with the garbage-bag-wearers, but I’m simply trying to make a larger point.  There are many ways to protect yourself in the rain in New York City, and there are many ways to assimilate into city culture and appear like a local.  If a topless woman with a drawn on mustache can do it, so can the rest of us.  I’ll forgive the studying of maps in public or the standing in the middle of a crowded sidewalk trying to figure out where to go.  I was once a tourist in many different cities, after all, so I know how it is.  But I tried to keep my Northface & Ugg outfits to a minimum, and did my best to dress as the native city-dwellers in an attempt to better understand their culture.  Like that old saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans.”  So walk around in a banana suit, go topless, wear head to toe spandex, emulate that impossibly unrealistic outfit you saw in Vogue, or pull out your vintage 10-speed Schwinn and ride around in jean shorts and Toms shoes.  This is New York City, land of endless opportunities.

Just please, leave the garbage bags at home.

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