The average wedding in Manhattan costs $ 88,000. I got this number from a colleague who wants to get married this summer – anyway. I also know from a couple of friends with a small daughter that a daycare center in New York is expensive and a nanny is priceless. When I was jogging in a park in Brooklyn on a snowy January Sunday, I almost got run over by children’s sleds. And the day before Valentine, couples browse through the range of love dice and fur-covered handcuffs in the “Museum of Sex” on Fifth Avenue.
First impression: You meet people who are willing to marry in New York, couples with children, couples without children, children without a supervisor, but rather not singles. The city should be the Mecca of self-determined single people. Garden of Eden, Big Apple, the Fall of Man – it can’t be a coincidence!
“The city that never sleeps”, “The singles’ metropolis”, “Priceless” – travelers have many images in mind when they visit New York City. But what is it about the clichés? In our “Mythos New York” series, our newly arrived correspondent does the – very subjective – reality check.
Or is New York just a myth as a city of singles? Fired by Sex and the City– Repetitions on TV and oral reports from former bank interns who really let it rip here? Anno 1999.
When dating, he pays
In fact, there are of course those who are not bound, even if they are less noticeable in the cityscape. This could be due to the work mentality of singles in connection with their average speed. Either they sit in glittering glass towers for 14 hours a day or they are rushing through the street jungle to the next appointment. When you talk to singles, you realize that many people in New York shy away from making long-term emotional investments. For them the city is just an episode. At some point the job is over, or the money. (Getting one person through in New York is expensive enough.)
Here romance becomes a ritualized matter. When dating, he pays. The first meeting often only lasts half an hour and usually takes place in a café or bar. If things go well, he’ll have a reservation at a downtown restaurant up his sleeve. If things go very well, you can climb the Empire State Building in Midtown or walk uptown through Central Park. When things go bad, everyone goes their own way. That saves time, after all, everyone has enough to do here. The New Yorker therefore also appreciates a well-stocked Valentine’s Day card shelf: Expressions of affection here do not come from the heart, but from the greeting card manufacturer. For pragmatic reasons, at least until the engagement.
There’s another reason people leave New York: loneliness. The whole thing then has something of a chicken and egg dilemma: who was here first? The people who don’t want to commit? Or the people who sit alone in front of the television and watch the classic channel “Harry and Sally”? The intersection could be large.
An American woman I met here recently held a half-hour monologue in the diner. It was actually about four men she’s broadly intimate with: from an email friendship to sex in Central Park. That sounds like a passionate single life, finally. But now she wants to emigrate to Germany – her place of longing for relational commitment.
At least once, New York was the alternative. In the “Museum of Sex” visitors will not only find a well-stocked shop, but also an exhibition with photos by Bill Bernstein. Bernstein was a party photographer before this profession became a hobby for youngsters with a bottom hairstyle. In the seventies he took pictures in “Studio 54”, in “Le Clique” and in “GG’s Barnum Room”. His black and white photos are a portrait of the disco era. Most common motif: couples copulating on the dance floor. Whereby “couple” does not describe a long-term state, but a fleeting, sexually charged moment.
There are photos of men and women, photos of men with men, photos of men in women’s clothes, and photos of women with penis. “These pioneers created cross-border communities of opportunity and lust for life and not only revolutionized their own present, but also paved the way for our future,” writes author and pop culture expert Barry Walters. Sexual self-determination and freedom are part of New York’s identity – but they are also part of the vast trivia about the city. In the museum shop you can buy white tennis socks with “Fuck my socks off” embroidered with black thread.
An American and a British meet
Anyone who never visits the museum as a tourist can at least remember the following fun fact for a possible New York flirt: The Library of Congress in Washington has been translating individual issues of the Playboy in braille.
The rapprochement in a city where everyone potentially comes from a different cultural area is fraught with pitfalls – a miracle that there are so many couples. As a newcomer, one observes a situation like this on the subway: An American and a British woman are talking, they have obviously only just met. It’s about politics (“All of us are racists. That’s what we’ve learned.”) And extremely private (after a one-night stand he briefly feared he would become a father, but was just fine again, phew) .
Then the language comes to the bands of their own youth – and with one sentence they tear open a rift that is more difficult to bridge than the Atlantic between Great Britain and America: “Take That? I’ve never even heard of them!”
For singles: “Whole Foods”. There are branches of the hip organic supermarket chain wherever (high-earning) singles live. Anyone who has to shop for more than one person there is quickly poor.
For lovers: the “Love” sign on the corner of 6th Avenue and 55th Street. First take a photo at the feet of the red letters, then drink a freshly squeezed juice with two straws at “Joe & the Juice”.
For parents: Step one: organize childcare (e.g. www.babysittersguild.com). Step two: see “for lovers”.
For the newly separated: “Marie’s Crisis”, 59 Grove St, Manhattan. This live music club is located in the middle of Greenwich Village, which is popular with gays and lesbians. Everyone will find a charming conversation partner here. Even if only because you can’t sing along to a single musical song – which the rest of the audience thinks is unbelievable (funny).