Friday, 4 September 2009

Just a prawn in the game...

Tuesday 1st September 2009. My new life in New York begins with me arguing in a Queens branch of Subway over a tuna mayonnaise footlong.

I ask the woman for tuna mayonnaise, but she looks at me blankly, so I ask for it again and point to the tuna, but her expression remains. So I say it again...
'Tuna. Tuna Mayo."
She exchanges confused glances with her colleague. I am hungry and jet lagged and want my $5 footlong.
''Tuna? Tuna? TUNA?'' I say pleadingly
''AHhhhhhh." says a man with a strong Indian accent 'You mean TU-na?'
"CHOO-na." I say
"TU-na." he says
"CHOO-na." I shout
"TUUUUUU-na." he enunciates as if it is I who is the newcomer to the English language ''We call it Tuuuuuuu-na here.''
''It's a fish.'' says the girl
"Are you Australian?'' he asks cheerily
''No! I am British! And I know it's a bloody fish. And we call in Choo-na.''
"Just give the woman her goddamn footlong!'' interrupts a native New Yorker in the queue.
''Thank you.'' I sigh.
"You should get some To-may-toes on that.'' she suggests
I don't even start.

By Thursday morning we are in Manhattan enrolling the Teenager for school in a kind of NY city educational sausage factory. I forget the passports, so we can't even progress past stage one. The American gives me evils while I protest that no one actually told me I had to bring passports. He then has to go all the way back to our pied a terre in Queens and is gone for over and hour.

When we finally get to progress to stage two they tell us we need a sworn affidavit to confirm that we are living together. And it has to be signed by a notary.

I am not even entirely sure what a notary is, but The American seems to know so we all follow him as he goes careering off down the street in search of one. This being New York there is a notary just one block away. So we pay a bespeckled Jewish man $2 to put a stamp on the affidavit and then it's all apparently official in the eyes of the New York city that The American and I are co-habiting.

When we return to we have to get back in line to wait for a 125 year old woman to single finger type into a laptop. It's ok though, because she loves my accent and her equally octogenarian colleague is asking where I am from and pretending she knows where Wales is.

Amber is finally in the system after 4 hours and I learn that bureaucracy is not the sole preserve of the British.

On the weekend we go to the cinema. Except I have to call it the 'movies' now. As we pay $36 for tickets for the three of us, I lament the loss of my cineworld card and it's unlimited films for 13 quid a month. There is no American equivalent. What with this and marmite and Coronation Street I have a sudden pang for the homeland. It lasts about 30 seconds until I see a tranny in a micro mini queuing for popcorn, then I love New York again.

We see District 9, a film about aliens in South Africa. They nickname them Prawns. More fish. There is a theme emerging here.

No one understands the Aliens or knows where they are from. I know how they feel.

I am, after all... a Welsh Alien in New York.


  1. Fabulous darling... it so has to get picked up...give it a few weeks I reckon! Love you xx

  2. The prawn nickname for the aliens in the film you saw has a special significance for South Africans, particularly those that have been, at some point, very stoned. There is a disgusting insect that lives only in that country - it is a hellish creature, an oily, jumping, spitting nightmare of a thing, like a cockroach on crack and steroids - called a parktown prawn. To see one:

    it is to south africa what the roach is to NY ...

    Please excuse the randomness of this comment.

  3. At last! Finally I get to hear the story of why you had a row on the first day.

    I still have memories of helping the ex as he desperately tried to order chips "just ask for fries" from blank faces. You're just going to have to adopt a fake Noo Yawk accent purely for ordering food!




Related Posts with Thumbnails