Travel

J1 begun: union square and the culturally dead paddy

Gin, stop leaving fucking bloody tissues on the table.”

“Wasn’t me.”

“They’re on top of your keys.”

“Those are your keys.”

“You’re fucking disgusting.”

*

Gin has the unfortunate habit of leaving tissues full of lung chunks around the house and, on occasion, he has been known to hock behind his bed rather than get up and go to the jacks. He goes through packets of Amber Leaf like they’re Tayto so it’s no surprise he has lungs like an autumn drain. Once I got my keys out from beneath a clump of his alveoli we all set out for a big day of fun in the city.

Gin is flush from working Pride and The Mitty has finally gotten a job in an Irish bar in Hell’s Kitchen. DooDoo, Fun and I are all waiting to get paid and are on the bones of our respective arses. You can smell the pennies off us as DooDoo put it. It’s a cereal for dinner week. DooDoo bought a fucking gallon of “Meat flavoured” sauce that came in a plastic bucket.

The fridge in the house was stocked with beer when we arrived but it’s Coors Light. Times aren’t that hard. We finally got a French press so now we have caffeine to supplement all the alcohol and nicotine. It’s all about balance.

DooDoo and Fun made their ways into town earlier. Gin, The Mitty and I got the subway into Manhattan around eleven. One of the greatest joys of New York living is mastering the subway. The trick, like in most of life’s endeavours, is not to fall asleep. Last summer in Paris I probably spent more time asleep/passed out on the Metro than I did awake. I once got on, heading west, to go home and woke up further east than where I had gotten on. I had slept through to the end of the line.

This is not advisable in New York. But if you have to take a nap then I would recommend the shuttle between Grand Central and Time Square. It only runs between two stations so you don’t have to worry about waking up at the end of the line. The back and forth motion is also very soothing and will quickly lull you to sleep.

Anyway, by the time we arrived into Union Square it’s roasting. People are coasting around on their little fat trucks look sufficiently hot and bothered. Good, try walking. That may sound callous, or at the least clichéd, but the excess in food here is revolting, though the blame isn’t completely on the gluttons themselves. A great way to keep poor people poor is to make them fat.

The Mitty reckons it’s because they brush their teeth with corn syrup but The Mitty knows as much about the causes behind the modern American health crisis as my arse knows about shucking oysters. He decides he has his own things to do downtown and Fun is free so Gin and I meet up with him. DooDoo is in work, hopefully stealing toilet paper for the house.

We go to the Museum of Natural History, which is spectacular. It offers the chance to take in a wealth of human experience equalled only by the Met. If you’re here, go.

After, on the steps outside, in the shadow of Teddy Roosevelt, we hear an accent from the old country, presumably on the phone to someone to Ireland as he was telling them the time. After our having breathed in centuries of human existence and charted the development of civilisation, a feat partly made possible by our seemingly inherent empathy towards our fellow man, we felt buoyed by life and decided to engage our fellow countryman.

The Irish have perfected polite awkwardness and condensed it into one word.  “Well”. Not quite an inquiry as to your state of being, not quite an imperative command to be content, not even a sentence, just a beautiful little catchall. Coupled with “lad” it’s hard to beat.

“Well, lad.”

We ask him what he thought of the museum.

“It was grawnd. There was this African mask that looked like an orse.”

So fuck the progress of our species then I suppose. And the march of culture. Orses. Fuck off with your Abercrombie Best Surf Football Cool Team 1847 t-shirt. It’s depressing.

Unfortunately this is not the first culturally dead Paddy we’ve come across. If one more fucker tells me they’re going to “do culture” I’m going to “do murder”.  We return home, concerned that in two hundred years the exhibit for early 21st century people will be Top Lad himself in a glass box, next to the orse mask.

The Mitty comes back from the city around midnight with a bag of viennoiserie, two packs of coffee and a white t-shirt with “Everything is Cunt” written on it in block capitals. He had it made in a print shop on Canal Street. The sentiment is his own. It would appear his day was disappointing too. It has become his catchphrase. It has to be the foremost expression of angst I’ve ever heard.

Follow D's misadventures in the Big Apple here: @d_joyceahearne