From showcasing accents of the various boroughs to quelling or justifying some of the city's numerous stereotypes, to sharing interesting factoids, the evening was both fun and enlightening.
At one point, they pulled me up on stage, asking where I was from, how long I'd been in the city and if I liked New York City, to which I replied, "Homer, Alaska, two weeks this time, last year, nine months, and yes, I absolutely love New York City."
They proceeded to quiz me on being a New Yorker and I am proud to say that I got 9 out of their 10 questions correct, including which is the largest borough (Staten Island), how do New Yorkers pronounce Forget About It (Faghetaboutit), three popular city food items (pizza, hot dogs and canollis), three items New Yorkers wear on a regular basis (sunglasses, earbuds and a scowl). The only question I got wrong was being able to describe what a knish is...
So, I have been officially crowned a New Yorker and now proudly wear a pin that claims this!
Among the many things I've learned, are not to ask for directions or assistance using the words "excuse me, can you help me" as this too closely mimics words used by panhandlers, but instead, to get to the point in as few a words as possible, like, "what direction is Houston street".
I've also learned that just because someone is wearing earbuds doesn't mean that they are actually listening to anything. Often, they wear them to avoid communicating with others. Ditto for the common use of sunglasses, even while indoors.
I've learned that what appears to be a frown on an unhappy or guarded person is often just their neutral face and once approached in a soft way with a kind word, a smile lights up their face and they are easy to engage.
I've learned that New Yorkers work hard to be guarded and wary of others out of necessity of living in a city of millions where people are shot, stabbed, robbed and pushed on to subway tracks. This is a mechanism for self preservation.
I've learned that it is not easy to live and thrive in the city. That it takes courage, tenacity, strength of character and a willingness to be vulnerable. It also takes a lot of money!
I've learned that when the going gets tough and *^#) hits the fan, New Yorkers come together, stranger helping stranger.
I've learned that New Yorkers are far from the stereotypes that cast them, but that they do very little to dispel those myths because there is a pride in that tough as nails attitude.
I've learned that New Yorkers are tough as nails and soft as pudding.
These are just a few of the things I've learned...