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How Are You Liking the Big Apple?

Ask a Bro is a column dissecting bro culture in all its beefy, V-necked forms.
August 18, 2015, 6:15pm
Image by Chris Classens

While the definition of bro is very contentious, something we can all agree on is that tourists are annoying. Having spent many of the unwilling summer vacations of my youth feeling disdain towards men in humid climates, however, I suspected the two groups would have significant overlap. As I conceived of this column, an image of slow-walking sweaty biceps in a cutoff tank top haunted me. Shots! he cries.

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Is this man real, or a figment of my ungenerous imagination? Does travel enrich the bro's soul as it does my own? I sought to examine the bro at his leisure, so I went to the world's worst vacation spot: Times Square. While many of the bro-y-est specimens I saw were promenading hand-in-hand with girlfriends, uninterested in chatting with me as their basketball shorts swished in the breeze, eventually I located some prime guys on tour: in a Foot Locker and a Sunglass Hut.

Scott, 26, Australian; Trent, 27

Where are you guys from? What brings you to New York?
Scott: Sydney, Australia.
Trent: Just holidaying.

How long have you been here?
Trent: This is our first official day here. We'll be here for four weeks.

Why did you want to come to New York?
Scott: Ah, this is great! He wants to see Times Square. He doesn't want to go to New York.

That's the only reason?
Scott: Yeah, just to explore the city.

Ok. Have you been to America before?
Trent: No, this is our first time.

Neither of you?
Trent: I didn't have an interest in coming. I love New York, it's cool, but I didn't have an interest in traveling to America, and he sort of riled me up. And it's pretty cool. I'm glad I'm here.
Scott: We're going other places too--Vegas, San Fran, Los Angeles, and Hawaii as well.

Four weeks, and you're doing all of that stuff? Do you feel like you'll have time to absorb the culture?
Scott: Yeah. Hopefully, yeah.
Trent: It will be rushed. But yeah, I think we will to some extent.

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What are you most excited about in Vegas?
Scott: Probably the Grand Canyon?

It's not even close!
Scott: We're going to the Grand Canyon!

Are you single?
Scott: I'm not, no.
Trent: I'm single.

Trent, are you looking for American ladies on this trip?
Trent: Maybe, yeah. Not overly. It would be a fairytale. It's only four weeks. There's a lot to do, but there's a lot of pretty girls around, so…

What if you fell in love?
Trent: It's not likely I'm going to fall in love in four weeks, but you never know.

What are you most looking forward to?
Trent: Probably Times Square. Times Square is a big thing. It's in a lot of movies, and everyone always says you've got to go to Times Square. It's a pretty cool place. We saw it for the first time last night and didn't realize how big it was. Do you know what I mean?

Well, it's actually many squares. Are you not finding all the people around annoying?
Scott: Not at all, no.

Really?
Scott: No. I find that people who do customer service that aren't going to get a tip do get very short with you. If you ask a question, I feel like they answer without really answering and just sort of look away.
Trent: I asked someone at the airport what time my flight was leaving, and she kept answering what time I was getting there and how it was a different timezone and then just brushed me off. Tipping the States is just a strange thing as well. Like we're not used to it and there's so many rules that apply.
Scott: Yeah--do we tip the Footlocker girl? She was nice? She gave us the shoes? Did you tell the taxi driver story?
Trent: Yeah! We got a cab that was, like, $35, and we gave him $40, and he was like, is this the only tip you're giving [me]? And I was like, what do you mean? And he was like, yeah, other people are giving $20.

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Oh, he's trying to rip you off, I think.
Scott: Damn it.
Trent: He was doing a full, close-to-crying thing. Like, you guys only gave $5? Five dollars? And then the tears. So we gave him more.

How much did you tip him?
Trent: I think ten bucks we gave him. Ten bucks.

Are you going to get those shoes?
Scott: Oh, I just paid for them.

Kevin, 24; Jackson, 22; Rico, 24

Broadly: What brings you guys to New York?
Kevin: We're all in the military; we just come up here for leave.

What branch of the military?
[in unison]: The army.

What do you do?
Jackson: We're Airborne-we jump from planes.

Why?
Kevin: Just better training and better experience. To do something different that other people don't do.
Jackson: I'm just an adrenaline junkie.

Was it hard to decide to join the army?
[in unison]: No.

Was it scary?
Rico: No, it wasn't scary at all. I mean, I knew what I was signing up for, the amount of years. It's just the experience. I mean, jumping out of planes, you don't get to do that every day, you know what I mean?
Kevin: It's stressful, but like he said, at the end of the day it's well worth it.

What's stressful about it?
Jackson: Um, day-to-day life?
Kevin: The intensity with your unit, the constant go-go-go mentality. You know, there's a certain standard you have to hold.
Rico: We get paid like shit.

How often do you get a break like this?
Kevin: Like every six months.

Every six months? And then do you get how many weeks off?
Kevin: Two weeks.
Jackson: Yeah, unless we're deployed.

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What's your favorite thing about New York? Why'd you decide to spend your time off here?
Kevin: Probably all the attractions.

Like what?
Kevin: Times Square. Ground Zero is what we really came here to see. The nightlife is always good to go to. The bars--you can't go wrong than that. But other than that, it's just an overall good experience to come here.
Rico:For me it's mainly the nightlife.

Like what? Clubs or bars?
Rico: Both of them, I gotta say.

What's a good bar? What's a good club?
Rico: I don't know. The last one I went to was awhile ago, but it was…freaking Pacha, over there by Chelsea Piers. Most of the bars--I don't really look at the names, I just go there and drink.

If a girl came up to you in a bar and was like, 'Pick me something to drink,' what would you buy for her?
Rico: Hmm, for a female…I mean, I would first ask her what she wants, but if she said to pick her something out, I don't know. I would have to go with something a little fruity, probably like a piña colada or something like that.

What about you?
Kevin: I would go with a Jack Daniel's. If she can handle Jack Daniel's, then she's cool in my book.

What do you think of Times Square? Is it not a little annoying?
Kevin: I guess the foot traffic gets a little annoying--a lot of people are kind of in their own world, looking around, so it's hard to see what you want to see. But overall I'm a patient guy, so it doesn't really bother me too much.

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What about you?
Rico: I'm not patient at all. It drives me crazy; it's just so crowded. But I mean most of the time we know what to expect; we just come out and have a good time and just keep it moving.

What do you think of Obama?
Jackson: Uh, we're not allowed to say.

What do you think about feminism?
Jackson: Feminism?

Yeah.
Jackson: As in women in the military?

Or anywhere. But fine, in the military. What do you think about women in the military?
Jackson: I think it's fine, as long as they can do my job.
Kevin: If they can hold our standard, yeah--I'm all for it.

Do you work with women?
Kevin: We do, but they're separated from us.
Rico: We have a friend that flies drones for our unit. She's a badass. She's cool as hell. She knows what she's doing.
Jackson: And she can do everything we can. It's not a big deal. Some women can, and some women can't.

But some guys can't, either.
Rico: Trust me--we know this.