Top 10 Rules For Southerners Visiting New York City

NYC Skyline, Photo by Steven Gagliano

As any hunter knows, you have to blend-in to bag game. In NYC, the purpose of blending in is to avoid being the game. The upcoming Ole Miss Club of New York’s Summer Social at the Harvard Club on June 9th is a good excuse to give ya’ll my top 10 rules for surviving the City.  Never say “New York City”, it’s just “The City.”

1. The greeting protocol is to blurt out the phrase, “How are you doing?”, spoken as,  “Howyadoin.”  New Yorkers do not actually want to know “How you are doing”, and would be taken aback if you told them. In linguistics, the phrase “Howyadoin” is called a phatic expression, whose function is to perform a social task, as opposed to seeking information. Here’s some other interesting phatic expressions around the world: Republic of Georgia:”Let you win”, Mauritania: “On you no evil”, and Mauritius:”Speak!”

2. On the other end of phatic greetings is the NYC practice of cat-calling, also known as “hollers.”  There is no way to avoid it. New York City is considering the establishment of “no catcall” zones. My best advice is to pretend you didn’t hear the catcall. If they persist, ask them to repeat it -the more they have to repeat, the sillier they sound. Same advice for ladies. Avoid construction sites, sporting events, and Restaurant Week.

3. Don’t be concerned that you don’t understand anyone, they don’t understand you either. However, communication is fairly simple. If you find yourself lost in the conversation, just say, “Fuggedaboudit”, “Not for nuttin’” or “Go kill yourself.” These phrases can mean, “yeah, you’re right,” “wow!”, “that’s terrible,” “that’s awesome”, “medium rare”, “Boston sucks” or a number of other things known only to wise-guys.

4. Don’t stare, and no matter what, pretend you have seen it all. Always look vaguely angry and dangerous. Happy people are tourists, they stand out as a potential target.  Do not smile or look into anyone’s eyes. It’s preserved as aggression or weakness. Confidence is key. If a pigeon poops on your shoulder, it was all part of the plan.

5. Prepare in advance of the metro card turnstile by having the card ready to swipe. Practice if needed. And never, ever, get into an empty subway car when the other cars are crowded. 

6. Leave the Lilly at home ladies. You may wear any color you like as long as it’s black. Easy on make-up, hairspray, and deodorant. Remember that less is more. Also, the wrong footwear will give you away. Wear flats or throwback converse hightops.

7. Always walk on the right side of the sidewalk at a brisk pace – walk especially brisk if you DON”T KNOW where you’re going. Don’t look up at the buildings. Even if King Kong is climbing the Empire State, don’t look up. If you spot a celebrity, ignore them.

8. Get ready to be stereotyped. English are asked if they know the Queen. Frenchmen are greeted with a hearty “sacre bleu!” (an archaic saying equivalent to “Golly”), and Southerners get bombarded with Jeff Foxworthy-isms. Yes, I have heard them all. Thank you Jeff.

9. Get used to hearing the “F-bomb.” Try not to take offense. Most New Yorkers just use it as an adjective. “It’s f—-ing cold”, “It’s f—-ing hot”, “It’s f—-ing gorgeous outside”, “What the “F” you looking at?”, etc.

10. If you tell a New Yorker you’re from Oxford, don’t be surprised if they ask if you know their friend from Dallas, Charlotte, Charleston or any city or state vaguely Southern. I suppose New Yorkers figure we all know each other.

And since you gotta eat, try these two classics and the evitable pizza.

The Palm, 837 2nd Ave. Since its establishment in 1926, Though the Palm has expanded with restaurants across the US, this Palm is the first and the walls are covered caricatures of celebrities, frequent guests and favorite cartoon characters from the “Mad Men” era.

Grand Central Oyster Bar, 89 E 42nd St, NYC. The Grand Central Oyster Bar is a central feature of Grand Central Station, and has been serving fine seafood from around the world since 1913.

Pizza. What would NYC be without it? Pizza is on every top-10 list of New York things and will be a main topic of discussion. Here’s a cheat sheet.

The sacred words for pizza:

Photo Courtesy: commons.wikimedia.org

· Slice – single slice of cheese pizza from a street vendor – always folded while eaten.

· Pie – refers to a whole pizza.

· Rays – is the generic term for pizza, like “coke “ for a carbonated beverage.

· Calzone and Stromboli is pizza in folded form, like a giant turnover. The difference between the two? One is rectangular and one is half-moon shaped. I forget which is which and it doesn’t matter.


About 1/3 of the restaurants in NYC serve Pizza. You can’t sling a dead cat without hitting a world famous Rays. Which of the Rays is the original?

· Famous Ray’s

· Famous Original Ray’s

· Original Ray’s

· Ray Bari’s

· Real Ray’s

· One and Only Famous Ray’s

· World Famous Ray’s

It’s a trick question: the simply named “Ray’s Pizza” closed in 2011. When asked about the secret to making good pizza, the owner of Rays Pizza said, “What do you mean? You buy top-grade flour and mozzarella. What else?”

Fuggedaboudit!


BlessYourHeartTim Heaton is a HottyToddy.com contributor and can be reached at tim.h.heaton@gmail.com. His new book, “Bless Your Heart, You Freakin’ Idiot: Southern Sayings Translated” is available on Amazon as well as “Momma n’ Em Said: The Treasury of Southern Sayings.”

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