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So what is a newyorksubalien...

I’m a New York subalien. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly legal – it’s just my loving other half, official alien that he is, comes with a so-called “supermodel” visa that apparently denotes him as one possessing extraordinary abilities (falling asleep within 5 minutes of sitting down in front of the TV, remembering only 2 of the 3 items on a mental shopping list and not knowing where the dishwasher tablets live after 2 years in our apartment are just some of his many talents).

The same visa leaves me extraordinarily unable to possess that most American of entities - a “social” i.e. a Social Security Number. Calling it a “social” makes it sound like the password to some party-filled, fun-packed lifestyle. That’s not far wrong as without these all-important 9 numbers, you pretty much can’t have a lifestyle at all - no bank account, no credit card, not even a driver’s license.

So what does a subalien do? Well, like over sub life forms waiting for evolution to give them a leg up on the ladder of existence, I have plenty of time to observe and these, dear reader, are my observations…..

Thursday, January 27, 2011

There's no day like a snow day

This morning school children throughout New York heard their favourite two words – “Snow Day”. 

In New York, if the first white flakes start to swirl to the ground in the evening light, kids throughout the city go to bed with the same degree of excitement and expectation as if it were Christmas Eve – or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, of course. And that feeling when they awake and you tell them Mayor Bloomberg in his infinite wisdom has declared a snow day and schools throughout the city are closed is as magical as telling them Santa has been.

Today’s snow day was only apparently the eighth for New York City schools since 1978. Worryingly however, this is our fourth since we arrived in September 2008 so if you’re looking for proof of global warming, that’s as good as any. Or alternatively we as a family bring to our new host country the gift of extreme weather phenomena. Come to think of it, there was an extreme drought in Brazil just after we arrived and the rainiest summers ever (or so it seemed) when we debunked to France and then to Ireland (and that IS saying something). So perhaps we should come with a weather warning.

New York is magical in the snow. All in all 19 inches of snow fell in Central Park yesterday – enough for any fledging sledging fiend. From tots who can hardly walk, stuffed as they are into the obligatory stand-up-on-their-own-they’re-so-padded snowsuits to the trying-to-be-super-cool High School kids wearing the obligatory beanie but no coat, no waterproof trousers, no gloves. I assume to guarantee they are super cool.

This being New York, size is all important and as with cars, apartments, bank balances, bigger is always better. Some of the contraptions we have seen should require a driver’s license due to their speed and supposed braking power; others are bigger than some studio flats I’ve seen advertised. We, of course, being “European” cause great amusement when we appear with our “bum boards” – the little plastic discs with handles that keep many a business afloat in European ski resorts as we always forget to bring them and always have to buy them.

Routinely  the “Are you really going to use those?” looks turn into sheer admiration as the astute New Yorker suddenly appreciates the rare combination of an extremely effective mode of downhill transport that can serve as an emergency shovel and – and this is the crux of it - takes up minimum storage space. That huge SUV (Sledge with Ultimate Volume) doesn’t seem so cool when you end up having to eat your meals off it as there is no space for a dining-room table. In the spirit of Interplanetary Exchange, we have distributed freely our excess supply of said bum boards and I’m expecting to see them on the runways as the ultimate fashion accessory in the Winter 2012 shows.

Now if I could just get everyone to start wearing red all-in-one ski-suits….

Creative Commons License by Caroline Eagles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.