Home > Uncategorized > That’s What You Get for Waking Up in Chinatown

That’s What You Get for Waking Up in Chinatown

The tourists are out in force in Chinatown, which is where I happen to wake up late Saturday morning, for reasons not entirely clear to me but which I suspect may involve beer. It’s Memorial Day weekend and there’s a festive mood on the streets. This weekend, New Yorkers trade places with the rest of the world. We all head out of town, to the Hamptons, or the Poconos, or the Adirondacks, to family farms or barbecues, or upstate to see our in-laws, or down the Jersey Shore to catch the early surf or play nickel slots in Atlantic City. It’s our start of summer ritual, as sacred in its own way as a Druid solstice celebration. In fact, most Brooklynites even have the beards and scruffy hair to match. We welcome the change in seasons in our city by escaping it, knowing we’ve got a 90-day march of failing air conditioners, summer blackouts, tourist-crowded streets to get through. But it’s also the season of summer Fridays, subway rides to Coney Island, restaurants opening their outdoor seating, movies in Bryant Park, fireworks, bike rides to nowhere for no reason, booze cruises around Manhattan, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, laying on the grass on your lunch break, Shake Shack, lazy fourteen hour baseball games, girls wearing less, softball leagues and street fairs.

Meanwhile, East Broadway is filled with stout Midwesterners or French families or school tour groups, who look up at the buildings and down into their guide books. I nurse a fierce and wicked hangover that snarls and claws at the back of my and try to not run them over. As I make my way through the usual Chinatown throng, a nice, older Asian couple in sun visors and Crocs smile, and ask me in a thick West Coast accent if I know a good Chinese restaurant.

I point them toward Wo Hop, but make for dim sum myself. It’s been about 24 hours since I’ve eaten anything other than beer and my stomach is screaming for a chicken bun. I contemplate going home to shower first, since I smell of stale beer, fried calamari, and nuclear death. Kids, do not try this at home.

I’m far from the only white boy in the restaurant, I realize while dipping shrimp dumplings in duck sauce and stare at the other customers with unconcealed interest. I am, however, the only white boy not attached to an Asian woman, who order for their boyfriends or husbands in flawless Cantonese or Mandarin. Strangely, I don’t see any Asian men with white women. I suppose this is the sort of odd cultural phenomenon that speaks volumes about the intersection of race, gender, and identity in our society. Unfortunately, I have no idea what it means. I pay my bill, say ‘xiexie’ to my waiter, who looks at me funny and answers ‘yup, take care man.’ I head back into the throng of tourists and head toward the nearest farmer’s market.

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone. And remember, if you come across any talking penguins while you’re out drinking, for god’s sake, do what they tell you.

  1. Louie
    May 29, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Forget about it, Jef.

  2. May 31, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Try waking up in Chinatown every day….hehe. I have to say, though, dim sum is some of the best hangover food, especially zongzi or what people sometimes call Chinese tamales. Glutinous rice…yum.

    • nycwastrel
      May 31, 2010 at 2:02 pm

      Don’t think I’ve had zongzi…I’ll have to give it a try. Any recommendations for a restaurant next time I randomly find myself on Market Street?

  3. May 31, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    More on zongzi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zongzi

    For dim sum, my regulars are Golden Unicorn on East Broadway, Dim Sum Go Go, or Chatham Square Restaurant just across the street on Bowery. Ping’s on Mott St. is also good, especially their fried turnip cake served with peppers in an edible wonton basket. Now I’m just making myself hungry…

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