New York is so weird. Sometimes I love living here, and sometimes it feels as though the city is a nasty schoolyard bully that steals my lunch money and then repeatedly punches me in the face until blood is running into my mouth and I am spluttering knocked-out teeth like chiclets.
Friday was one of those days. I just felt defeated and tired. A rat on a wheel, if you will. Sometimes it happens.
Even to me.
I know, hard to believe.
At the end of the day, I peeled through the crowd on the N train and actually scored my ass a vacant seat. Then suddenly I sniffed and sniffed. Something smelled like an old sneakers rotting in a vat of spoiled milk in rat-infested deli somewhere. Warm waves of stale, burned coffee rose up to my nostrils like cat pee on a shag carpet. What the fuck?
I grabbed my purse and realized that the smell was me. Awwwwwesome. I had purchased a brand new oversized travel mug (Ha HA! what a clever devil I was, buying a cup three times the size of a grande latte, so as to transport more caffeine than humanly possible on my morning commute, and not have to stop once for a refill! Yes! Brilliant! Snaps to me!!!) and it had dumped inside my bag, and a stream of cold, end-of-the-day coffee was peeing quietly onto my leg.
Nice. Thanks, Baby Jesus. Why, man? Why?
Anyway, regardless of the fact that I smelled like the dumpster behind the Starbucks, I was not getting up. New Yorkers fight hard for their subway seats; we have an obnoxious sense of entitlement to a hard-won ass-planting if we can score it on a rush-hour train. This is ironic of course since most of us spend our days sitting on our duffers in climate-controlled cubicles, but still. I learned how hardcore New York subway seat jockeys can be in my ninth month of pregnancy. I was still commuting to work and sometimes I could stand for an entire 25 minute ride, my jutting belly literally poking some white collar fuckwad in the Wall Street Journal that he had splayed open to better enable his hiding and pretending not to notice me.
But that night I almost did give up the seat. Because a giant boulder of a man came and stood over me.
He was terribly unfortunate-looking. He had a huge, protrusive stomach and the jowly, frog-like face of Larry Flynt, with a neck that sagged lazily over the collar of his buttoned-up shirt. Wait a second, I thought. Larry Flynt can't be on the NYC subway. He's in Washington, petitioning Obama for a porn industry bailout. Besides, he's in a wheelchair. He can't hold a wide-legged stance in my personal space on the N train. That man's legs don't even work.
Gross. This dude was most deliberately standing inside the invisible box where there's only room for me. Even on a crowded train there's still your dance space and mine. You don't need to say it, it's just what we all know. And so, like a freaky secret between just us, he stood there. And stood there. And I couldn't do anything.
Then he started clenching and unclenching a fat, purplish fist. Then he put his hand in his pocket, removed it, and poked his tummy. Then he reached down and readjusted the front of his pants. He systematically repeated these actions while I sat there, all of this happening disurbingly close to my face.
Goddamn it. Not moving, I thought. Don't care how uncomfortable you try and make me. You can't win. I win. Today is for me.
It became a dance...I watched as he took on a rhythm: clench, unclench hideous fist, place hand in pocket, take hand back out, poke belly, shift balls.
Still I would not move.
Then, inexplicably, he got tired of trying to engage me and moved on to someone else.
The train stopped at Queensboro and a flood of people migrated to the 7 train and he shifted his stance to tower over the Asian model in the stilettos and faux-Cheetah coat, which wasnt even being worn ironically. I guess he thought she was more worth the puppet show than me.
And I rode the remaining stops home, wondering...did that really just happen?
2 days ago