Introducing the Meet Cute

| 02 Mar 2015 | 05:00

    Finding the cure for summer's end

    Summer is ending. And since we can't freeze time to stop this inevitable temporal marker, we have to devise other ways to stay optimistic and ward off impending fall stressors. I advocate that meet-cutes, in the form of stranger interactions in New York City, are positive for our mental well-being. A "meet-cute" is a term that describes the moment in a film when two strangers meet in an amusing or entertaining way. It's that moment when a heroine reaches for the skim milk to pour in her iced coffee, when a handsome stranger grabs the canister at the same time. Their eyes meet and the rest is history.

    And while screenplay writers spend countless hours creating the quintessential meet-cute for films, one only has to spend five minutes in downtown New York City for one of these happenstance interactions to occur. Psychological research has shown that by interacting with others, we can decrease the stress hormone cortisol, while increasing the feel-good hormone, oxytocin. One way we can counteract stress is to be proactive in our relationships, and these bonds can be with people found outside your front door.

    After devouring downtown's streets last weekend in search for the best meet-cute location in the city, I decided it had to be The Little Cupcake Bakeshop, located in the epicenter of Nolita. The atmosphere at this bakeshop is like nothing I've ever witnessed. On the corner of Prince and Mott Streets, framed by white awnings and large windows, is an army of cakes, cupcakes, and croissants. The seats are filled with tired tourist spilling crumbs on city grid maps and locals waiting for neighborhood friends to walk through the threshold. Maybe it's the neon black signing brandished with the pink fluorescent shop name that beckons New Yorkers of all varieties to indulge in a piece of pumpkin pie or a butterscotch brownie. Just last weekend I noticed a young woman reading a financial magazine when a man sat next to her and asked about her thoughts on Europe's economy. The two exchanged digits and left in smiles.

    Inside the shop there's ample fodder for a meet-cute. The front door hangs open on balmy summer nights, and the customer line snakes from the outdoors to the cash register. The buzz and energy is palpable. A meet-cute is an ineluctable result when every inch of the shop is a catalyst for conversation. It's here that I've seen strangers hold doors open for each other, chat about cupcake eating techniques, and exude warmth and kindness to one another. It's here that the meet-cute takes permanent residency in New York City. It's here that you'll be able to fight any chance of impending summer-ending blues.