When you’ve lived in New York for a long time there are certain facial expressions you try on before heading out into the world. Surprise! Your eyes widen, your mouth parts in an O shape, your head crooks slightly. It is an expression used by long-time New Yorkers to indicate a certain emotion when told for the 54th time about the vacation that ended in disaster, the reason for the split-up of someone’s hedge fund husband, or the speaker’s discovery of a fabulous brand new restaurant whose opening you attended six months before.
Well, that’s one of many practiced instant expressions, and there are lots of others, but no need now to go through a panoramic viewing of practiced reactions to the oft-told tale. Another time, perhaps another place.
Last week, at the birthday dinner for a friend, I was seated next to a columnist who writes for Page 6 of the New York Post. In a casual conversation and probably trying to sound worth quoting, I mentioned that just last week we had been in the living room of a client who had, among conventional collectibles, books and porcelains, a full sized African lion – long-manned, ferocious looking, and stuffed, of course.
“Interesting,” he replied, “but I have 200 preserved animals in my Central Park apartment and another 200 in my home down south.”
Not possible to out-surprise New Yorkers, and certainly no need to practice the appropriate expression.