Figures of City Speech

15 Dec 2020 | 04:03

Thanks to COVID-19, there are some New York-centric references that just no longer apply. Some can be shelved temporarily, while others can start collecting their pensions.

“It’s Like Grand Central Station In Here.”

Once used to describe a place so busy one would have to fight through a crowd, wait forever for one’s turn on a never-ending line or bear witness to head-spinning movement. At the height of the pandemic in the summer of 2020 the empty terminal echoed like the Grand Canyon. With so many still #WFH (or not at all), there is no longer the mad commuter rush to catch the 6:02 home to Scarsdale; and with staples like The Oyster Bar temporarily closed, we’ll all need to find another simile for “chaotic.”

“Welcome To The City That Never Sleeps.”

Establishments once known for staying open late or all night have a 10 p.m. curfew. Some days (and nights), there’s nothing to do but sleep. (Wait, are puzzles still a thing?)

“Only In New York!”

The coronavirus has been the great equalizer. Everywhere across America is the mask-wearing-quarantined-rapid-COVID-testing same.

“Let’s Not Make A Big Broadway Production Outta This.”

Oh, if only we could, then actors, directors, producers, ushers, ticket sellers and stagehands would have jobs again. At one time, pointing out that a situation was akin to a work performed in NYC’s major theater district meant it was overly dramatic or amassing too many elements. The Great White Way will not be back until 2021, we hope. Until then, well, “Let’s Not Make A Big Netflix Production Outta This,” might do, but just doesn’t have the same ring.

“It Happened In A New York Minute”

Another way to say “in an instant,” because things moved so fast in the greatest city in the world. Now, it’s more like “a New York hour, or maybe an hour and a half.” Just ask the Whole Foods shoppers lined-up down the block and around the corner.

“The City So Nice, They Named It Twice.”

The reference has always been questionable, as it’s hard to recall anyone actually ever signifying New York as “nice.” Rude, abrasive, combative, these are the most used adjectives. In fact, since March, if you are out and about without a mouth covering, be prepared to have, “Put your mask on,” yelled at you often in a not nice tone of voice.

“If You Can Make It Here, You Can Make It Anywhere.”

Remember when we thought ourselves the center of the universe? We even set it to music. America might be the land of opportunity, but the ones worth having were available only on a 13.4 by 2.3-mile island which attracted the best of the best. Triumph in the Big Apple (never a small feat) guaranteed success in whatever “lesser” place upon which the pin landed on the map. Given over the past many months we have seen what the rest of the country is made of in terms of taking to the streets in protest and defying government mandates to keep their businesses open, maybe this phrase should be retired for good. Making it on the mean streets of Park Avenue does not translate into prevailing on middle American roads where people open carry.

“New York City Is The Capital Of The World”

(See above)

“I HEART New York”

It began as an ad campaign promoting tourism and turned into a mantra. But like romantic love that blossoms in the good times, the real test is when the bad times hit. For some of us, it will always be #NewYorkOrNowhere, but as soon as the USNS Comfort hospital ship sailed into our harbor, many denizens couldn’t pack their bags fast enough to second homes out east, upstate, or out of state vowing never to return. A suitable replacement could be “I FACEBOOK FRIENDS New York.”

“In A City Of Eight Million...”

Not anymore.

Lorraine Duffy Merkl is a novelist whose upcoming book, “The Last Single Woman in New York City,” is to be published by Heliotrope Books.