Let me explain all these tomatoes on the sidewalk.
In my neighborhood, after a long night indulging our countless dive bars, gastropubs and speakeasies, it’s common for revelers to refuel with a gyro before staggering away towards their inevitable hangover.
Come daybreak, sunlight kisses the tops of my ‘hood’s onion-domed churches and tidy 19th century row-houses. It also reveals the detritus of the night before: half-empty bottles, discarded pizza crusts, and the pervasive tomato slices tossed unceremoniously by 20-somethings too tipsy to remember those magical words: “no tomatoes.”
There’s no getting used to the late-night drunken woo’ing that heralds closing time, but when you live in the neighborhood that’s known for nightlife, it’s a minor annoyance compared to everything else it has to offer.
Put it in perspective
No matter where you’re located, the tales of endless depravity are most likely exaggerated. Oh, it gets raucous for sure, but for every debauched St. Patrick’s Day or Thanksgiving Eve, there are a dozen or so cold or rainy weekends that seem downright tame.
Even so, there’s reason to be a little boasty: Those who’ve sought respite in the suburbs or tamer parts of town tend to attach a certain prestige to living in a neighborhood known for nightlife, assuming that the party never stops.
“You must go out all the time,” your friends gush.
“Oh, you know,” you say, playing it cool like you don’t want to brag about your hedonistic lifestyle, but in reality, jello shots in a packed nightclub is one of the least appealing things you can imagine.
In fact, Friday and Saturday nights are the times you’re least likely to be found out in your neighborhood. When the masses come, you’re probably already hunkered down at home, cozy with a bottle of wine, or out exploring a different neighborhood.
Hot at Night, Cool by Day
If people swarm your neighborhood, there’s a reason.
It’s probably centrally located, or at least easily accessible by public transportation. And it no doubt has a reputation for having an abundance of bars, restaurants, and nightlife.
But during the day, nightlife-heavy neighborhoods can be nearly as family-friendly as many others. Moms and dads take their kids to the playground. Dog parks, libraries, record stores, swimming pools and vintage shops all bustle with activity.
Day or night, your neighborhood is probably one of the coolest in town, and if everyone wants to visit, it must be doing something right. Lucky for you, you get to hang there 24/7.
However, the things that night owls value about your neighborhood probably aren’t the same things you think makes it special. To them, “walkability” means barhopping. For you, it means not needing a car to go to the bank or grocery store.
That’s because in party neighborhoods, residents and visitors coexist in the same physical space but inhabit completely different realms.
A reveler will prowl the main drag looking for neon letters to lure them into the next watering hole. Locals will scout the same block, looking for that new Thai restaurant that hasn’t even had time to put up a sign. No restaurant reviewer has been there, and no masses have flocked yet. You don’t need the Twitterverse to alert you to these kinds of places because simply keeping your eyes open on the way to the bodega means you’re the first to know. You go before everyone else and enjoy it in peace, and even when the crowds eventually show up, you still have easy access on the quieter weeknights.
That little Mexican place with the unbeatable margaritas? The family-owned diner that’s been open in the same place for twenty years? That neighborhood watering hole with the surprising draft list and unbeatable happy hour deals? They’re what make your neighborhood great, and attracted outsiders in the first place. But especially on the off nights, they belong to you, the locals.
At some point, you’re going to venture out and brave the crowds on Friday night.
What better place to assemble than at your place, conveniently located a few blocks from the action? Order take-out from one of dozens of nearby restaurants and then, when you decide to go out, don’t worry about a game plan — simply head in the direction of the light and sound, and submit to it.
At the end of the night, just remember those two magic words: no tomatoes.
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