NYC is full of stereotypes. People here talk funny. They’re rude. They belong to ethnic groups renowned for their parsimony or vulgarity. The validity of these do not interest me, or at least cannot be untangled in a short format digital weblog. Instead, I do want to discuss one common perception of New Yahkers: We always wear black.
Turns out it’s true. I once found myself walking onto a crowded subway car and everyone around me was wearing black. Not shades of gray or navy — deep black. And not just coats — shoes, pants, hats, sunglasses, shirts were all painted in that somber tone. I thought for a moment I had strayed onto some morbid Improv Everywhere routine.
You don’t really notice until you leave New York, or you see others encroach upon her. Americans wear lots and lots of color and lots of plaid. You can always spot the tourist on a NYC street because they will have on some hypercolor ski jacket. I do not know why people wear black here. Maybe because, with the rotting subway benches, stained subway doors, and strangers of ill repute, it’s best not to draw attention to oneself, or at least wear clothing that will not be easily marked.
I just acquired my first black jacket: a Barbour International. I got it because I was feeling especially effeminate and wanted to summon the spirit of Steve McQueen. Also, because it was on sale. Now that I do have it, I feel a special kind of pride, like now I’m one of the herd called New York. But I also feel the security of black. Like a Cloak that casts +5 agility and +2 dexterity, my jacket helps me blend in. It draws away light. It is urban camouflage. It is armor.
In this view, black clothing does offer protection. New York is as safe as ever, but one always gets the feeling that one could be singled out by some predator, be they street vermin or street police, and wearing black helps you get all Ninja Gaiden amongst the concrete.
A “Gaiden” and a McQueen reference in one post? You bet.