If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will someday. Whether you’ve walked out of your job one sunny afternoon because your boss insulted your coffee-making technique for the hundredth time, you run into an ex with their new love, or you’ve just realized that every decision you’ve ever made is wrong, an emotional breakdown on a New York City street is inevitable. Once you’ve lived here long enough, you will have cried on the Bowery, threatened to throw yourself in front of a cab in Midtown or even just softly wept into the phone to your mom while walking across the Williamsburg Bridge. It will happen, I promise.
When it comes to the inevitable, you might as well embrace it and prepare well in advance. If you’ve ever witnessed someone having an emotional breakdown in public, you’ve probably been able to discern what makes for a stylish one and what does not.
On the many occasions I’ve seen someone fall apart, their knees collapse from under them as they dramatically scream at either the sky or the person with whom they happen to be. I stare in concentration not because I’m judging or being nosy, but because I’m trying to take in their technique. I want to be sure that I can learn from their mistakes or perhaps even steal a move that looks extra great and award winning. You can’t half-ass an emotional breakdown; there’s a science to it, a craft and it’s not something that should be taken lightly.
So how does one stylishly pull off such a scene of epic, utter despair, but still look flawless while doing so?
Stay standing upright as long as you can. Of course a full-on breakdown will eventually have you on the ground, either because you’ve fallen or tossed yourself onto the sidewalk, but staying vertical for as long as possible is key. It will lengthen your body and show passersby that you have erect grace before you become a weeping ball in the fetal position near that puddle of dog piss.
Use fancy words. Regular old commonplace words will hardly make you stand out as one who knows a thing or two about fashionable scene-making. Try to think of your breakdown as a Shakespeare play or a Scrabble game you want to win; nothing less than eloquent 20-point words will do.
Do the occasional hair check. No matter the length of your hair, make sure to reach up and see if it’s just the right bit of wild. Windy days can make this “right bit” too extreme and it can detract from the focus: you. You also want to make sure that your hair has followed your emotions’ lead and has not stayed behind all prim and proper. If need be, in between screams, cries and 20-point words, give your hair a push up and out. Naturally, the true success for this detail will be based on just how long it is. Curly bobs, actually, most curly hair is perfect for this part of the equation. If you have straight hair, maybe you should consider a perm.
Keep your lips moist. Excessive crying and moving of your mouth could result in dry lips. Although, ideally, it would be great to apply a chapstick or gloss to your mouth mid-breakdown, it’s not exactly the best time for it. If you’re coherent enough to be aware of what’s going on in your pucker region, run your tongue over your lips from time to time. No one wants to be that person on the street making a scene with that white caked-foam type shit in the corners of their mouth. Not pretty.
Subtly pull at your clothes. Similarly to your hair, you want to look the “right bit” of disheveled. You also want to make sure that your skirt isn’t tucked into the back of your tights, your tie isn’t covered in something from lunch or your head didn’t just instantly decide that that very moment was the ideal second to start making dandruff. In pulling at and sort of brushing against different articles of your outfit, you’ll be able to make sure that nothing is overtly out of place. Realize you’re too put together? Slip one of your arms out of your jacket – there you go! Disheveled made easy.
Make a mental note of your surroundings. At some point before your entire emotion breakdown is over, you’re going to tumble. You will end up on the sidewalk and not because you wanted to necessarily, but because you were unable to get to your bed fast enough. Since this is the case, it’s extremely important to make a note of where things are around you. How far from that metal trashcan are you? Can you fall to your right and not graze it with your head? If you drop to your knees, are you far enough away from that dog shit? You don’t want to leave the situation reeking of canine feces and rocking a black eye. Not cool.
Breathe. Seriously. Devastation, for whatever the reason, can lead to hyperventilating which will not only make you look like you’re panting like an excited, chubby puppy, but can cause a complete loss of control. You’ve already lost your handle on most of what’s going on in that moment, so you don’t want to add to it by gasping for air the way your family from Ohio does every time they walk the six flights up to your apartment. Don’t be like people from Ohio; so breathe in and out, in and out—even if it hurts like hell to do so.
With these few suggestions, you’re well on your way to having a stylish emotional breakdown on any New York City street. So don’t feel bad when it happens, insecure or embarrassed; it happens to the best of us. It happens to all of us, even if some of us are better at being stealth about it. Although, in hiding it, you’ll get yourself nowhere. Emotions were made to be felt, tear ducts were made to be released, and your beloved New York City was made to catch you when you fall –even if it’s with open arms of dirty concrete.
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