Wendyl Nissen

Wendyl Nissen on being 'The Supportive Wife'

Wendyl Nissen: Victoria's Secret has got nothing on Brooklyn's stereotypes

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Wendy Nissen rides dat subway.

"Can we please catch a taxi?" pleaded my daughter.

"No, we've got to master this subway thing," I muttered, peering desperately at my subway map.

It was a business trip to New York for me, but I had brought her along for company. Which meant the first thing to do was find Victoria's Secret.

Instead of riding uptown from Manhattan we were headed downtown thanks to my hasty decision to get on the wrong train.

I adore trains, especially subways. My daughter doesn't share my passion for locomotion. In fact, she was terrified.

In the same carriage was a kid her age. He had leapt on full of chutzpah sporting a walking stick - the kind old men use, wooden and well-worn. The rest of him was well turned out in a style middle-aged people like me call "street". To me he looked like a modern day Charlie Chaplin as he chatted to his friends in "street language". I could not understand a word.

But my daughter could. She had spent most of the two days before we left Auckland catching buses all over town chasing a bunch of American rappers called Odd Future in an effort to secure an autograph.

She could understand the kid word for word.

"What's the matter?" I asked as she slowly sank inside her jacket.

"We're heading for Brooklyn. If you'd seen the stuff I've seen you wouldn't want to go there."

Sitting beside me was a child dealing with a stereotype fed to her by music videos and movies.

Fortunately for her we found the right train and headed uptown to the safety of a fragrant, bright pink Victoria's Secret shop where staff took a great interest in our bra sizes and general appearance.

"You been measured in the last six months, honey?" asked the woman in the changing rooms.

"My, you've got a great figure on you," she said to my daughter, fussing over her.

To me, she just said: "It'll stretch Ma'am, it'll stretch."

Later I talked to my daughter about the kid from Brooklyn with the cane.

"What was it he said that freaked you out so much?"

"The fact that he was talking about crack whores," she said, munching on her cheeseburger.

"Oh, okay. But I think we should take a trip to Brooklyn just to prove that what you're dealing with is a stereotype."

"No way," she said, grabbing some fries and sucking on her milk shake.

"Imagine if everyone who came to Auckland thought that it was all like Once Were Warriors," I said. "Every city has its seething underbelly but it doesn't mean the whole place is like that."

"You never let me watch Once Were Warriors," she said. "All I know about that movie is that some guy asks someone to cook him some eggs."

The next day two guys were on the subway trying to outdo each other with tales of extreme violence.

"You know my cousin Willy? Man, he's been knifed three times."

I looked at my daughter cautiously. She rolled her eyes, grinned and shoved in her earphones to listen to some music, just like all the New Yorkers around her.

- Herald on Sunday

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