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Things You Gotta Do
- (before you can call yourself a New Yorker)

Becoming a real-deal New Yorker is akin to joining an exclusive club. There are membership dues (paid in staggering tuitions and exorbitant rents), a secret language (words like schmear and whaddayagonnado), and an initiation process (not just anyone can navigate tourist-clogged sidewalks at warp speed). As our city's sappy theme song suggests, making it here is something to be proud of - whether you were born in one of the boroughs or you parachuted in from afar. And instead of carrying membership cards, initiates strut around with an "everywhere else is just the boondocks" bravado. Just what does a person have to do to join such an elite clique? Time Out New York have got a few ideas.

Accept your bicycle as an integral part of your furniture

Any jaded bike owner (i.e., one who has suffered U-lock futility) eventually resorts to bringing baby indoors. And unless you have a geeky fold-up number or live in a loft (damn you!) or a building with basement storage (double damn you!), your Specialized or vintage Schwinn becomes as much of a space hog as your couch. Think positively: When the object is at rest, it makes for a great coat hanger. And you can always call it art. - Zoë Wolff

Have personal water-bug and rat horror stories at the ready

Remember when you dug around the back of your closet for that pair of shoes you hadn't worn in months, and one of them hid a big, shiny, multiappendaged roach that jumped out and ran up your arm? How about that time you walked too close to a pile of garbage on the Bowery and about a half dozen mangy, furry beasts leaped out and scurried over your feet? Or when you were in the shower and you saw a hair in the drain; you yanked on it and discovered it was the long antenna of a monstrous, disgusting water bug! Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! - Soren Larson

Adopt a piece of furniture you found on the street

Forget the big chain stores - we know how to outfit a well-appointed apartment by carting home castaways. It's amazing what you can find on the concrete if you keep your eyes peeled. Mint-condition bureaus, tables, desks and chairs are there for the taking if you're willing to do a bit of lugging - and if you aren't afraid of snooty friends making snide pack-rat references. - Bruce Tantum

Buy a pair of socks at a street fair

Some people love the jumble of sights, sounds and smells at New York City street fairs. The more jaded, however, know there's only one reason to push past the gnarly Italian sausages, Asian massage torture and T-Mobile hawkers: socks. At an average of four dollars for a bundle of three pairs - or three bundles for ten bucks - it's the city's most cost-effective way to rotate holey hosiery out of your drawers at least once a year. - Steve Smith

Navigate the West Village without a map

Many areas of the city can be confounding, but few are as romantically, stubbornly haphazard as the West Village, which was exempt when the grid was laid down in 1811. Abandon sidewalk logic, ye who enter here. Waverly meets itself? Of course. Greenwich Street and Greenwich Avenue? Yes, to the dismay of many a delivery guy. But at some point, perhaps after passing Manhattan's narrowest house (75 1/2 Bedford St between Barrow and Morton Sts) six times while looking for Commerce Street, your inner Village compass will snap to, and the landmarks will stop playing hide-and-seek. From then on, you'll unerringly navigate the 19th-century lanes, from tree-lined Charles Street to the curved blocks of Barrow Street, from Jack's coffee to Joe's, or from the Cherry Lane Theatre to signless Chumley's. - Mamie Healey

Walk your parents through the Gay Pride Parade without mentioning that anything out of the ordinary is happening

While a man wearing a giant chicken head and hot pants giddily waves a sign that says I [heart] COCK, you point out the lovely summer foliage of a West Village rooftop garden to Mom. As Dykes on Bikes roar past in an oil-burning haze, you suggest that perhaps Dad might enjoy a Nutty Buddy from the nearby ice-cream vendor. Gay Pride? Why, is it that time of year already? - Leah Greenblatt

A true New Yorker knows:

that it's called Sixth Avenue, not Avenue of the Americas.
that you still refer to the MetLife Building as the Pan Am Building.
that the Statue of Liberty is not on Ellis Island.
to avoid these tourist-strewn stretches: West 4th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues; Bleecker Street between Sixth Avenue and La Guardia Place; St. Marks Place between Second and Third Avenues; 34th Street between Fifth and Eighth Avenues; and 42nd Street between Sixth and Eighth Avenues.

"Oy vey!"

Incorporate a lexicon of Yiddish terms into your vocabulary
Even if you grew up in Reykjavik, after a certain time here, oy, schlemiel and mazel tov are going to roll off your tongue as easily as bagels and lox roll onto it. Bubkes, you say. But you won't be able to help it. Yiddish has some of the best words to describe urban living: like the box you had to schlep up six flights, the schlocky work the cobbler did on your favorite Manolos or the tchotchkes your roommate is crowding your tiny apartment with. Your remaining task is to order a schmear. - Ann Lien


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