An Open Letter to Recently Graduated Bros Moving to NYC

guys drinking at a bar
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Dear NYC's incoming bros:

I am one of you. Or, I was, once. White! Male! Carefree, which is essentially synonymous with those first two words! I graduated from a four-year college in four years, thank you, where I spent my time shotgunning lager beers and sharing mouth-kisses with strangers of dubious aesthetic. Motherfuckers, I drove a Jeep Grand Cherokee. What’s that, Chip? Did it have a six-disc CD changer in the dash?

Please. Don’t insult me. Kindly sit the fuck back down, Chip.

Anyway, I heard you and your Patagonia quarter-zip performance fleeces are getting an apartment in NYC. Congratulations! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make your mark on the Big Apple before eventually wandering back to Westchester in search of a suitably festive yacht club burgee to swear your allegiance to. But you should know -- living in NYC is unlike anything you experienced during your time at Colgate/Bucknell/JMU/whichever enclave of privilege and Quidditch you spent the last four years drinking your way through.

Daunting? You’d better fucking believe it, Drew. But worry not! For though I was once merely an obnoxious, transplanted bro in the big city, I am now a marginally productive member of New York City society. I’ve learned a lot in five years, and I’m here to share. Pull this article up on your phone, grab a barstool at 13th Step, and let's bro down.

bros at a bar
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First of all, no one talks like that here, Drew. Do yourself a favor and leave the Vineyard Vines vernacular in your apartment, and only bring it out when your bros from college visit (which they will). Sexual partners are not “smokeshows,” “dimes,” or “slampieces.” They are people, and you will meet them on Penny Farthing’s flesh-mash dance floor at 2:25am, or the side boat at Frying Pan on a sunny Saturday, or at your work bro's pregame in Kips Bay. You may end up meeting them at all of these places in time & space, and still not remember them when you meet them for a fourth time at a college acquaintance’s birthday happy hour at Houston Hall.

You’ll attend a lot of these birthday parties for people you only sorta know in the coming 12 months. I should warn you now, Trevor: they’re categorically unpleasant. Birthday brunches are bad; birthday dinners should be illegal. Inevitably, a friend-of-a-friend’s free-spirited girlfriend will organize his fete at Medieval Times, and there will be an empty spot in the rental van they need to fill. This will either be the worst birthday of all, or “pretty much OK until the traffic on the ride back.” Do as I do, T-Bone, and systematically cut ties with all but your closest friends. Yes, you will often feel alone. But you won’t have to waste any more of your precious, fleeting youth celebrating someone else's.

guy with beers sitting at bar

As your virile brohood wanes -- and it will, Mike; it fucking will -- so too will your initial fondness for New York City’s 4am last call. Here’s a biological fact that you will, for the time being, ignore: you cannot drink as much as you used to back at good ol’ Sigma Tahoe Et Cetera in Chapel Hill. You can't drink all day, and drink all night, knock back Fireball at 3:40am on the third floor of Brass Monkey, or play Edward Forty-Hands on a casual Wednesday before going out. You will learn this fact to be true -- and it is, Mike; it fucking is -- very slowly. It will take you at least two Hamptons share houses to discover that the returns are diminishing at a frightening rate. (This is also right around the time you’ll stop measuring time in number of Hamptons share houses you’ve rented.)

At some point, you’ll elect to do laundry instead of masturbating. This will be a low point. Brace for it.

Are you racist, Connor? Don’t bring that shit here. Homophobic? Nah, we’re good. Sexist? Ditto. Actually, strike that. The beauty of NYC is that you can be any anything you want. If you really desire it, you can be any of those things! But the other beauty of this place is that more tolerant New Yorkers will occasionally physically harm you for behaving like a hateful little shitcake. Which, frankly, is a delightful bit of poetic justice for the rest of us to watch. It’s up to you, Conman.

The real Gray's Papaya is gone, but you should eat a shitload of late-night hot dogs at one of its similarly named ancestors. Remember those potential sexual partners? I don’t advise bringing them on these carnal adventures, or you will diminish your chances at having carnal adventures with them. Or at least, that's been my experience. Your mileage may vary.

Do you love breakfast sandwiches? Pizza? Cheeseburgers? Of course you do. The good news is this city has America’s very best versions of all these things. The bad news: this city will make you fat. (Again: maybe that was just me.) When this happens, you will join a gym, or maybe a club. Either way, the squash ladder will be full of middle-aged dudes in freakishly good middle-aged dude shape, and it is going to cost you a heinous amount of money. For the first time, you will be mildly aware of your expenditures: even if your parents are helping you out with rent, they have (hopefully) decided it’s time to stop giving you pocket money.

guys drinking beer
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If this sounds bleak and vaguely nauseating, that’s because your first year in New York City as an incoming bro is bleak and vaguely nauseating. Depending on how quickly you figure out the ropes, your second or third year may follow similarly. But all is not lost, my hapless jabroni!

Eventually, you will either move to another, more bro-friendly city (Chicago and Boston both have plenty of room for another balding, banking beer-leaguer named Matty), or figure out how to stop being a bro from Loyola, or Michigan, or Bowdoin, and start being a normal human person from New York City.

You’ll spend more time in parks. You’ll explore a few museums and find them to be “kind of chill.” The tranquil beauty of Cobble Hill on a weekend morning will speak to you, and for the first time, you’ll be there to hear it. Day trips! Day trips in New York City are great, Matty, and you will take the shit out of them. The Rockaways! Governors Island! Queens, generally! God, there are day trips galore. I encourage you to obtain a bike, ride it to Red Hook, and get totally lost for an afternoon. Or at least, get pupusas.

Eventually, something as loathsome and unremarkable as “exercising good judgment” may even thrill you, Kip. For example, day drinking. If it wasn't already, it'll soon become your favorite form of drinking, because it allows you to party and get into bed before midnight. Meaning Sunday morning, you won’t be a goddamned wreck. You can admit you’re excited to feel like not-death when you wake up, Kip. We all are. It’s an important part of being an adult.

guy in a suit
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Of course, shedding your recalcitrant bro shell in favor of a big-boy life in the big city isn't without its challenges. For one thing, you’ll need to spend a significant amount of money on new, more fashionable clothes. Contrary to what you may have heard, this is not the behavior of “the gays” and “chicks"; it is the behavior of all mature humans who’ve decided that it’s no longer age-appropriate to dress like a deranged rodeo clown sponsored by Costa Del Mar & Southern Tide.

For another, you’ll find yourself focusing on your career at some point, a necessary and laudable concern that will deliver a constant, low-level dose of anxiety directly into your brain at all hours of the day and night. Living in NYC exacerbates this feeling. So do drugs, so you will either a) do more of them; or b) stop doing them altogether. I recommend b), but that’s a personal decision.

Oh, by the way: the crawfish festival is great, Stone St is overcrowded, Brooklyn's got delightful rooftop bars, Trader Joe's lines move fast, Uber is just one of many ways to get around, and your phone will die a lot, so put it on airplane mode in the subway.

New York City is a wonderful place, my dear incoming bros. The upsides are many, the downsides are... well, also many, but you’ll get used to them. The city you experience for the first couple years of your residency is not the city that the rest of us experience. As you leave behind the trappings of your college years, you’ll realize just how big this place is. And when you do, you will feel small. That's OK. It’s an important realization, and when it strikes you, you will no longer be a nameless, faceless, insufferable incoming bro. You will be one of 8 million New Yorkers who make these Five Boroughs the best city in the world.

Welcome to New York City, bros.


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Dave Infante is a writer-at-large at Thrillist. He is a recovering bro. Follow @dinfontay on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.