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An English Werewolf in New York, 22 - 27 July 2001



I wrote this at the end of my first full day in New York, which gives an idea of the first impressions the city creates for a tourist.

Take one little wolf. Take one massive city and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of other people. This little wolf is feeling decidedly chihuahua-like in the Big Apple.

The first thing that hits you about summer time in New York is the heat. Even now, at 1 a.m. it's probably about 24C outside and pretty unbearable away from the air-conditioned zones. And there's a lot of those - every bus, subway train, shop and office block. Now it becomes apparent just why Twat Bush is as adamant about power consumption levels as he is.

You step out of a train into the non air-conditioned stations, and the heat hits you like a brisk wall, flat in the face. It becomes more bearable outside in the full sun than underground without air conditioning. For the European Tourist, each drinking fountain becomes a temporary best friend, and it becomes apparent just why the Americans call them 'Restrooms.'

Nevertheless, I had a brief, but well-needed sleep last night at the home of Rapid T. Rabbit, a New York fur who works for the cable company here with his own show, doing fursuit-related stuff. We had to be out of here by 7 a.m. so that he could get to work, so there was no chance to catch up on any sleep after having had to add the extra five hours to the previous day. Joy. Still, it's now 1 a.m. here, my body should think it's 6 a.m. still, and I haven't gone to sleep face-down on the keyboard. So I think I can say that I've not suffered too much from jet-lag.

And then I was on my own un New York. And RTR didn't return from work to take me home again until 10.30 p.m.

Still, at least I'm holidaying in a location that *almost* speaks my language. If you just about look as if you know what you're doing, and don't make the mistake of opening your mouth, then you can get by without too much trouble.

Sight-seeing as a single person has to be one big downer of a trip here. It's all very well going off to Grand Central Station to see the magnificent ceiling, or to Macy's too see the 'world's largest store,' but while no one else is there with you to share the experience with, it's all too easily shrugged off as 'Oh, seen that now' before proceeding on to go and see something else. Which makes the day go by very slowly, since you're always having to find new things to do, but on the other paw, with the heat and not being able to do much because of it, everything probably evens out eventually.

No, I haven't climbed the Empire State or seen the Statue of Liberty yet. Saving those two 'big sights' for when RTR can come round with me, take photos of me there (to prove I went!), and to give some company. He works one odd Monday a month elsewhere from his usual job, and at a different time, which is why I had to be on my own today. What I did do was the 'tourist stuff' in Central Manhattan - Times Square, NY Library, FAO Schwarz, Grand Central Station, Macy's, Central Park etc.

And apart from FAO Schwarz not having any wolf plush whatsoever (despite being told it stocked all manner of critters), it was the heat again that was the big overshadower of everything. By about 3 p.m., still needing 7 and a half hours of 'things to do,' I'd become so sweaty that I was actually in discomfort walking. So I decided I'd have a quick session in the 'net cafe and then sit it out in Central Park, maybe going for a walk when I could again.

Getting on a subway train and finding that, one stop before you want to get off, you're the only white person on the entire train is a very eerie feeling. This isn't a very tolerant city - there are definite 'no-go' areas for blacks and whites alike, and you don't even travel through them on the subways. I'd not been pre-warned that where I was off to (North Central Park) was one of these areas, but nevertheless, the feeling made me get off the train early and just find somewhere else in Central Park.

Despite this, New York does have similarities with London. Being big, noisy and full of f***ing foreign tourists among the main ones! It has a nice selection of dogs - a large husky walking past is always something to make the wolf smile. :)

But the peculiarities of the city are all too clear, too. Every street, subway line and station is numbered, rather than named. This is useful in that you can quickly find your way somewhere (assuming you remember which way the streets run, which way the avenues run, and which way the numbers increase...), but proves a pain when you realise that some streets have several subway stations located on them in different places, each with the same name. It's a bit like, say Temple, Embankment, Westminster and St. James' Park each being called the same name. And why the US traffic lights show 'Walk' when clearly there are cars turning across the path of pedestrians, I won't know. In a city where politeness doesn't seem too called upon (except in shops, where you are everyone's 'Sir'), it just gets everyone hot under the collar. Assuming they're not from the UK and already suffered heatstroke. :P

But despite all of this, I did have a good time, and am determined to make the best out of the current situation.

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