We New Yorkers are much reviled for our crankiness and penchant for complaining about nothing — or, when the spirit moves us, anything. But a few weeks ago, a friend of mine raised the game to a new level.
“My building,” she lamented, “hasn’t been the same since Philip Roth died.”
After giving me a moment to take in that non-bombshell, she dramatically intoned: “He lived upstairs from me.”
Riding the wave of surreal melodrama, she concluded: “Nice guy.”
Lately, we dazzling urbanites have had a lot to bitch about. This year, it rained for what felt like 564 days in a row. Bloomingdale’s might have considered selling arks in the home furnishings department. Plus, our mayor — who has too much sense to ask any of the voters of the city, Ed Koch-like, “How am I doing?” — is running for president. (Doesn’t it defy the law of physics to have a mayor who might not win re-election broadening his horizons by running for POTUS?).
But back to the kvetchy brag, a rallying cry for these me-me-me times — the invention of my Facebook friend Megan N., by the way (I’m not clever enough to think of something this urbane). The neat turn of phrase suits us New Yorkers, doesn’t it? Think of how much it liberates us, too.
When you want to feel cool and brag about something utterly inconsequential in our little town, the kvetchy brag frees you up to do just that. Here a few that came to mind, based on an informal survey of New Yorkers I know:
“Can you believe how expensive it is nowadays for me to send my kid to Harvard? (Oh — didn’t I mention that the little genius decided to say no to Stanford, Brown, Penn, M.I.T. and Yale!”)
“Sitting in field-level box seats at Yankee Stadium isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, y’know — I mean, those batted balls can come at you so fast, you could hardly defend yourself.”
“I won the lottery to see ‘Hamilton’ — after applying at least seven times before!”
“I GUESS it’s ok that we got $1.3 million for our place in Sag Harbor, since the Times just wrote that this is a buyer’s market and all. But remember, we listed it for $1.6 million — and it took us THREE MONTHS to unload it!”
“‘Dear Evan Hansen’ was definitely better the last two times I saw it.”
“You wouldn’t believe how long I had to wait in the green room before it was time for my appearance on Rachel Maddow’s show.”
“Anderson Cooper’s show really let me down. They said on the crawler that my last Trump book was a New York Times best-seller for nine weeks. IT WAS A TIMES BESTSELLER FOR TEN WEEKS, thank you very much! Can you believe such shoddy journalism!”
“It’s cool that 845 of my Facebook friends ‘liked’ my selfie with Jerry Seinfeld — but the least he could have done was smile!”
“I was hoping for a bigger advance for my next book.”
“I can’t believe that the Times Magazine didn’t put my most recent piece on its cover.”
“That restaurant that New York magazine said was the hottest new spot in the city? Well, take it from me, it isn’t so great.”
If you have kvetchy-brag observations to share, please email thWem to firstname.lastname@example.org.