It’s always been a pet peeve of mine when I meet someone who claims to be from Seattle and when you ask where in Seattle they’re from, they say Everett or Enumclaw or Auburn because those aren’t neighborhoods in Seattle. Those are dirty suburbs where going through the drive thru at Jack in the Box is a fun night out, where kids smoke cigarettes at 7-11, where Bud light Lime and Jagermeister are popular cocktails. Just because Kirk Cobain is from Aberdeen, WA doesn’t make it a cool place. That only happened one time!
I am a city snob. My whole life, I’ve prided myself on being from Seattle. Actual Seattle, Seattle. So, when I moved to New York City, I thought I would have no problem blending in with other city dwellers. I would know my uptown from my downtown. I’d walk fast, know the best pizza place and be able to hail a cab, no problem. I’d hate Time Square and alienate outsiders. I was sure that soon, I’d meet my three best girlfriends and everything would be just like it is on Sex and the City!
The only problem is, Seattle is nothing like that. We drive slow, dress warm and complain passive aggressively when someone accidently cuts in line at Starbucks.
My first week in New York City, I felt like a small town girl. I tried to not notice how tall the buildings were, how there were rats everywhere. I pretended not to like the musicians on the subway and kept my nose in the paper. When the beggars walked from train to train, I starred forward coldly or sometimes gave a dollar like it was some sort of transportation tax. I moved fast and never let my Metro Card expire. I tried hard to be hard.
I got an apartment in Greenpoint, which is the neighborhood right next to hipster Williamsburg in Brooklyn. My place was not cute or convenient but it was cheap. It was about a mile walk from the G train, which all New Yorkers agree is the worst train ever. Usually, I would get off at the Bedford L stop and walk home from there. It was an even longer walk but still much faster than waiting for the ghost train. Eventually I’d start taking a six-dollar car service just to get to the subway but my first week in New York city, I was still feeling optimistic and positive about my move and new home. I was living in New York City! The center of the universe! Mecca for city snobs!
On my fifth night of living in New York, I went out for drinks with some friends to celebrate my move from Seattle. I was walking home from the train and I had to walk past McCarran Park on Bedford Ave. Normally, McCarran Park is filled with hipsters and families but being new to the area, I didn’t know that yet and it looked like crack head park to me. It was midnight and the streets were pretty empty. I started to feel scared but like any good city person, I knew to be aware of my surroundings and that if anything dangerous ever happened, I would just scream for help.
I was walking down Bedford Ave right alongside the park, attempting fearlessness when I noticed a drunk, homeless guy with his shirt off coming towards me. He was mumbling to himself and walking a few feet this way, than that way. He swung his beer bottle in his hand and from far away I couldn’t tell if he was angry or just really drunk or both. I was terrified but I didn’t want to show my fear by crossing the street to avoid him. I convinced myself that a real city person wouldn’t do that. So, against my instincts, I kept walking towards him, playing it cool. Then I noticed coming up behind the drunk guy was a nice looking man about my age who I thought if anything bad happened would save me. I don’t know why I put my faith in this stranger but he seemed nice, or at least, he didn’t seem like a drunk, homeless man that was potentially really angry. The drunk guy passed me. I starred forward not even acknowledging him and nothing happened. He went on his way, I went on my way. I relaxed. I was just paranoid. The nice looking man was getting closer. When he was about six feet away, I nodded politely and said,
He nodded back but right as he was about to pass me, he jumped in front of me and grabbed my boob. My purse was wrapped around me like a shoulder bag so it was actually separating my boobs. One boob. Two boobs. He grabbed one, squeezed it hard and then ran into the park.
I threw my arms up.
“What the fuck?!” I yelled.
I wasn’t scared anymore. I was angry. Who did this guy think he was? He ran into the park about fifty feet, then stopped and looked at me as if I was supposed to chase after him. I wanted to. I wanted to yell and hit him but some part of me knew that that was not a good idea and instead all I could find it in me to yell was,
“Please, don’t touch my boob, sir!”
I immediately called for a car service because I felt that this incident justified spending six bucks to get home safely.
“I’m on Bedford Ave,” I yelled into my phone. “By the high school.”
The operator asked for the cross street.
“I don’t know,” I said. “By the high school!!”
At this point, the homeless guy started swaggering towards me concerned and asked,
“Are you okay, Miss?”
“I’m fine!” I snapped because I was in survival mode and everyone was the enemy. Abandon Ship! I was no longer afraid, I was just angry.
The car service arrived and I quickly got in.
“Take me to Driggs and Kingsland, please. Some guy just grabbed my boob.”
I could see the driver’s eyes in the rear view mirror. He chuckled. I turned to look back at the boob grabber nice guy and the drunken homeless man through the car window. They were both still standing where I’d left them. The boob grabber in the middle of the park waiting for his next attack and the drunk standing in the street watching me drive off to safety.
“Where are you from?” the driver asked me.
“Seattle,” I said.
“It rains a lot there,” he said.
“Yep,” I replied. “It rains a lot but there aren’t any rats.”
“Every city has rats,” he said.
“Well this city has a lot of them.”
We spent the rest of the drive in silence. My boob felt cold, like an orange from the refrigerator.