In Defense of New York City’s Humidity
Last weekend I was at Costco in Brooklyn, and if you have ever been to Costco on a Saturday, you know that it is basically a street fight with oversized shopping carts instead of switchblades.
Costco on the weekend turns the simple act of being in public around other humans into a bloodsport. It’s like stepping into a hive of angry wasps – if that hive also had incredible deals on electronics and sold batteries by the thousand. It’s really incredible. Last weekend, even by Costco’s standards, was particularly rough. In addition to all of the usual shenanigans, the air conditioner on the first floor wasn’t working, and the heat and humidity from outside had seeped into the building like a plague.
Imagine that previously mentioned wasp nest crammed inside of a dead guy’s mouth. At the checkout, after the woman ringing me up had to call over a supervisor to validate a purchase I was making, I apologized for slowing things down. She gave me a genuinely exhausted look and said “Baby, don’t apologize. It’s so hot and sticky today, everything is slow.” That interaction, brief and miserable as it may have been, was the highlight of my week.
That moment in Costco made me realize something about myself. Something so shameful and despicable that it pains me to write it here: I like New York’s humidity. When I first moved here, I was afraid it would be too much for me. I have a friend from Los Angeles (a literal desert that is hot basically year-round) who swears he would move to New York if it weren’t for the humidity in the summer. Many people say it’s the reason they want to leave some day.
But I have seen the light, and I urge you to do the same. At the very least, hear my plea and try to have an open mind. New York City’s humidity is something to be appreciated, not condemned.
The conversation I had with that woman at Costco is a conversation all of us have had with someone at some point during one of those “the entire city is a tiny bathroom without windows that someone just took a hot shower in” days. We are all Costco lady. The humidity beats everyone down. From Costco ladies, construction workers, peanut vendors, Wall Street goons, Orthodox Jews, hipsters, children, and everyone else. It is a truly shared experience amongst one of the largest and densest populations on earth.
A similar effect occurs when heavy snow hits, but it’s not quite the same because everyone is hiding inside. The humidity pushes everyone out of their comfort zones and into the horrible sweaty streets. Everyone on every train is in desperate need of a shirt change. And we are ALL complaining about it. Transplants and locals hate it just the same. Even if you aren’t verbally complaining, you’re complaining with your eyes. You are complaining in the way you slowly drudge up the steps of the subway platform.
The best way to form meaningful relationships with people is bonding over something you hate. When humidity comes around, we all have a shared interest, and it’s like everyone in all of New York City are best friends all of a sudden, even if for just one sweaty miserable day.
And then, just when you think it can’t get any worse; when your clothes are nothing but a second layer of skin: the humidity breaks. The skies open up and rain down sweet, sweet relief. There are few things more satisfying in nature than when, after days of muggy hell, thunder rumbles and rain clouds slide overhead to dump all of that stored up precipitation on the salty people below. Sure it catches everyone off guard and makes the streets smell funny, but it feels so damn good. Lightning flashes across the sky as if to tell you “Hey friend, I’m here now, and everything is going to be alright”.
It’s the climax after seemingly endless foreplay. The big finish we desperately crave. A skygasm.
The horrible humidity that haunts us all summer is a villain, to be sure, but it’s one we need. Nay, it’s one we love. It brings us together and it gives life to our city in a way that can’t be overstated.