NYC Free Foot Tours Fifth Ave
By Enrique Grijalva

The male ego is a fragile one. Don’t ever let anyone—especially men—tell you any different. Despite these blanketed insecurities which can be exposed when inferiority rears its ugly head, it’s a man’s pride which is his worst enemy. It’s as if it’s woven together with Kevlar, acting as a bulletproof vest which prevents us from achieving humility. You’d have to beat a man within an inch of death, or make him aware that you’ve moved on with a new love interest if you want to penetrate that armor. Or, in my case, admit to my body that I was wrong for taking a three-hour foot tour during the final weekend before Christmas, while I was sick.

The decision to follow through with the tour has me convinced that I subconsciously might be a masochist. Really, there’s no other explanation as to why I needed the additional burden of carrying around a huge Christmas present from Pottery Barn. It wasn’t heavy, but can you imagine what it’s like dragging along a box the size of your torso for three hours around midtown? Well, if you’re a shopaholic you probably have a good idea, and after going through this experience I have no sympathy for you.

As a New Yorker, I rarely get the opportunity to visit actual landmarks or monuments for which this city is known for. I, along with many hometown occupants, take those special locations for granted and assume that they’ll always be there. I keep telling myself I’ll go see them one day. Bullshit. I may never go see them. Do you want to know why? It’s for the same reason I avoid Times Square like a plague. I fucking hate tourists.

Perhaps I’ve lived in this city too long. My New York state of mind doesn’t allow me to function at an easygoing pace. Frantic and paranoid is all I know. It doesn’t help that I’m a little judgmental towards new individuals of the city who can be sniffed out within minutes.

For example, a small conversation can reveal whether you’re from New York or not, and that’s without directly asking if you are. That’s not all. The biggest indication you’re an out-of-towner is by how fast you’re walking. Here’s where my disgust for tourists comes in. They’re like lost children in a maze. Tourists never fail to march around aimlessly at a snail’s pace, while gripping their DSLR cameras, and gawking up at the skyscrapers as if they’re waiting for some invisible deity to appear and ejaculate the meaning of life into their mouths.

Still, it’s the holiday season and one must be jolly (and diabetic) like Santa. At some point, when my immune system wasn’t working overtime, I thought it would be a cool idea to take one of NYC’s Free Tours by Foot. Who needs an overrated bus tour? Not I. I had numerous options but I decided to take the Holiday Lights Tour. (I like shiny things.)

Members of the tour met up outside of a Starbucks near the Met. Two tour guides—one who strangely resembled Sam Healy from Orange is the New Black—divided the large group in two. My tour guide, Derek, was outfitted in a red Chicago Bulls jacket, a microphone headset with a small speaker resting on his chest, and what appeared to be a child’s blue umbrella, which he used as a north star for the group of 20 people.

Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Enrique Grijalva

Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Enrique Grijalva

If you’re ever planning on taking one of these foot tours, here’s my advice to you: Make sure to get plenty of rest the day before; if you’re sick, stay home; bring a minimal amount of baggage; wear comfortable sneakers; and bring a lot of patience.

The first half of the tour sped by quickly as we fought through the crowds at Bryant Park. By the time we reached Macy’s, however, fatigue started to set in amongst a few members of the tour. Usually I’d shake my head at them in disgust, finding some type of pathetic gratification in my ability to walk long distances, but I had already started looking around for the perfect place to faint. I think Derek noticed that soon after we left the Plaza Hotel for a much needed bathroom break. He continuously made and effort to make some small talk. That mentally kept me focused on the conversation at hand, rather than the overwhelming fever which would put me into a coma for the next two days.

I really wanted to just fall out on the street, but I’ve never fainted and I planned on keeping it that way. I also thought of telling Derek I was sick and I needed to go home early, but I thought that would be rude. Then I realized that Derek must take this tour several days a week. I was worried he’d look down on me, assuming I was lying about my sickness. He’d probably think I was weak or that my manly beard wasn’t so manly after all. So I had to finish the tour even if it killed me. It’s that damn pride.


Featured image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Enrique Grijalva

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