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Nina In NY: Al Fresco Dining Signals The Change Of Seasons

A young professional's take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.

By Nina Pajak

Feel that? That's the population-wide case of Seasonal Affected Disorder dissolving up into the bright, clear sky. I can tell, because the tables are out! Hurray!

It's one thing to do your personal best to rush the weather, but now the changing of the seasons is undeniable.

I can't wait to snag one and relax with a glass of wine outside after work. What's more luxurious and relaxing? Of course, we'll need to find a place that still has their heat lamps out because, you know, it's cold out in the evenings. And we may need to sneak out of work early in order to quickly knock back a drink before the sun goes down and the chill sets in at around 7:00 p.m (thanks, Daylight Savings!).

Maybe it's the long winters or the hours upon hours spent inside buildings whose windows are permanently sealed, but the minute someone throws a table and chair out on the sidewalk, there's an instantaneous crowd around the door to snag it. It's simply charming to dine al fresco in NYC. Of course, we're planting ourselves in the middle of the busy city, and that comes with all the expected quirks—traffic belching by, aggressive street whacks, noise, grit, lurking roaches and rats (even if you don't see them, you know they're never far).

Related: New York's Best Outdoor Bars

But none of that matters. We are absolutely determined to enjoy this perk of city living, and that means turning a blind eye to the fact that we're lounging with cocktails at what is essentially a bus stop. Frankly, I love it. I can't get enough. I'm out there with the last patches of filthy snow still waiting to melt away into spring, and I don't come back inside until it becomes impossible to eat on account of my mittens shedding fuzz into my food.

Plus, there's no better venue for people-watching, which makes outdoor seating the best spot for those awkward drinks with your weird coworker, a first date, a friend with whom you keep trying to break up, your estranged aunt Mavis, or even by yourself.

That's right, if you're outside, the drinking by yourself thing doesn't count. In fact, it becomes mysterious and sophisticated and will make you look like you're starring in a print ad for tampons or men's loafers.

Just lovely.


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I'm always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

The Nina Archives:

Get Out Of My Way... Please

Tales From The Dog Run

George Orwell Never Had To Ride The Subway

NYC Dept. Of...Ew, Gross

Do You Know Gus?

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