Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Quietest New Yorker

"You're the quietest New Yorker I've ever known," the young woman cutting my hair said, pausing her scissors perhaps for effect.

I have lived in the south most of my life - Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland - and have been told by southerners that I don't seem, sound, or act like a New Yorker. The subtext of these comments is "You're not the least bit obnoxious." I think of a noisy, gum-chewing Damon Runyon character and sigh. Like the characters in Al Capp's fictional southern town of Dogpatch, Runyon's New York characters are sentimental and humorous. And it's fun to imagine Daisy Mae lunching with Nathan Detroit. There is nothing humorous about the epitome of the rude New Yorker stereotype, the Republican candidate for president. 

The New Yorkers I've known growing up on Long Island, at college and drama school in Manhattan, working in New York offices and theatres, are some of the most caring and compassionate individuals I have ever known.  If you have any doubts about this, recall what all of us witnessed on and after September 11, 2001.

Donald Trump seems, sounds, and acts like the man who as Mark Shields said in a recent PBS broadcast, "has gone to, on a consistent basis, the meanest corners of the American soul, appealed to the basest and darkest side of all Americans." As a native New Yorker, I ask that you not confuse New Yorkers with Mr. Trump. 

A neighbor who owns a small dog told me that he usually avoids other dogs "like the plague." His little canine, like some of our species, has a Napoleon complex. I  usually avoid discussions of politics like the plague. I'm more comfortable with poems and books. But this election year is not the one for Americans to be quiet.

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