Talking to Strangers: Brooklyn, NY
Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.
by Laura Feinstein
What are you doing here in Brooklyn?
I'm thinking of trying to make it here as an artist. I haven't decided how long I'm going to stay though.
Where are you from originally?
I'm from a little place called La Salle in Quebec, outside of Montreal. But I'm in school in Montreal. It's our biggest city, but nothing like here.
How would you say the dating scene here compares to Montreal?
Well, it's a little more difficult for me personally because I'm used to speaking French, so talking in English every day is a little hard.
I imagine speaking French would be a huge draw to potential suitors, though?
Yes, but it's easier if I can speak in my home tongue. People here who speak French don't always understand Quebecois, also — it's a separate species of language. I like it, but not everyone else does.
Are you seeing anyone in Montreal?
I have a boyfriend, but I haven't decided if I'm going back.
How does he feel about that?
Well, he doesn't know. I'm still in the hatching stages.
He might read this here and find out.
Oh, he's not going to read this. Trust me.
How long have you been seeing your boyfriend?
I've been seeing my boyfriend, Henri, for about four years. We talked about getting married but I'm still a little too young for that, so I'm here trying to find myself, like a good French girl.
Isn't he going to be disappointed if you decide not to go back?
Well, he's still up at school at McGill, and I'm taking a break for a little while. I was in English lit, but I decided it was time for embrace my artistic side for a while. He goes there for chemical engineering, so I guess if I decided to be an artist I would be financially stable. But we have a lot to talk about first.
Poor boyfriend! Well, if you decide to stay, what are you looking for in a new boyfriend?
Oddly, I'm looking for someone to eat with. There are so many different kinds of ethnic foods here we don't have back in Quebec, so I'd love to try them all. Right now, though, I'm just staying on a friend's couch, so I don't know how love is going to work.
So what are your dating techniques?
It's very slick. I like to choose a bench to sit at, and I read a book for hours, and eventually someone talks to me. It almost always works in Montreal. I also wear bright colors when I sit in the park. It keeps me from blending in. People are more focused on jobs here than in Montreal though, so it might not work. I might have dress a little more flamboyantly. I'm not the kind that really likes to wait around for things to happen.
And what kind of art do you do?
I do installation pieces. Or I want to. I have a lot of ideas for the future. We shall see!
If someone were going to date you, what would they need to know about you?
That I might not be here in the fall, and I hate to be breathed on early in the mornings. Besides that, I think I am a delight to be around.
What are you doing out in the neighborhood today?
I do some construction work on the weekends, so I'm heading over to our warehouse.
Have you built anything I've seen?
Probably not. I mostly work in the studio, sanding and welding. You know, manly stuff.
Do you also work full-time during the week?
Yeah, I work for an art handler full-time, so it's pretty tough and long hours, but I still get to see my friends a lot, hang out, drink beer, listen to metal. I also play in a grindcore band, so I'm really busy. We just played a gig out in Bushwick a few weeks ago. We all have "A" names so we're trying to work that into the band somewhere. I'm Andrew and they're all Alexs. It just seems perfect.
Are you seeing anyone right now?
I just got out of a serious relationship, so I'm mostly looking around. No real plans. I mean, if the right person came along, I'd be into it, but the last girl I was seeing for years was pretty serious. I got to keep the cat though, which has been the bright side. He's big and stupid and likes apocalyptic sci-fi, so we're becoming best friends.
Any good crazy ex stories?
Maybe. But if I told them they'd probably turn around and say something worse about me. But it's hard not to do crazy things for love, you know? I live in the heat of the moment. Not really, but put that down.
Is there anything a girl could do that would immediately cross them off your list?
Yeah, velour sweat suits. Seriously, best indicator that someone sucks. I mean, I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule, but I've yet to see one.
What's the strangest date you've ever been on?
Well, it wasn't really a crazy date on its own, but I was once coming back home with my girlfriend, and when we opened the front door, my neighbor was smoking crack with his girlfriend in the hallway. Apparently it was "his birthday." He actually went to jail recently, but not for the crack thing. Other things. But yeah, we were all less than impressed.
Classic. How long have you lived here for?
I'm actually from the area originally and never left. I guess you could say born and bred, right? My grandparents came here from Italy and we've just been here ever since. We're hard to get rid of.
Well, if you were to go on an authentic Brooklyn date with someone new, where would you take them?
I guess you could say Brighton Beach for a walk or Coney Island for the rides. But I probably wouldn't do that. We'd grab burgers and go to Saint Vitus and listen to some metal. Or stay home and watch Aliens. I have the whole series.
Are you from New York originally?
No, I'm from North Carolina. I grew up there, so that's what I generally tell people. I moved up two years ago, but I actually cheat.
Yeah, I spend my summers up in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. It's so great there. I work for the Williamstown Theater Festival. So I feel like I get to get away from the super-gross heat of New York. I hate how that sounds — "I vacation in the Berrrkshiiires" — but yeah, I get to escape.
What brings you to the park today?
I'm a freelance graphic designer and I spend way too much time inside in my pajamas, so I thought I'd get some air. It was necessary. I kind of have to force myself out. The internet sucks me in.
Do you ever do the café thing?
No, it's a little too distracting, though it's probably good for meeting people. I actually built my own closet desk, so I managed to make an office in my tiny railroad apartment.
You must have your apartment pretty tricked out by now.
Yeah, I've really made it my own. I just signed a lease, so I'll be here for a while! It's funny, before I moved to Greenpoint I was dating this guy who lived around here, and I just liked the area so much that I think I totally freaked him out. I just couldn't stop talking about it. We're actually not dating anymore, but when I found this place, I was like, "I'm moving to your neighborhood!" and I think he got scared. I'm pretty diehard about Greenpoint.
Do you live with people you know?
Yeah, I live with a friend from college, but we have it set up pretty well for a railroad apartment. I can use a door in the hall, so we don't have to do any of that sock-on-a-doorknob stuff. Her boyfriend is an electrician, so he built us this awesome sliding door. You need that kind of privacy when you live in such tiny apartments. But I'm so glad to be living here.
So Greenpoint is kind of the love of your life now?
Yeah, it's the most perfect place.