Tourists. Seriously. I know it’s a played-to-death subject, but can anyone tell me why so few of them understand Appropriate Subway Behavior? They’re always the ones moseying into the car so leisurely, talking too loud, standing in blockade formation around the pole and doorways, forgoing holding ON to the pole in favor of spectacular pratfalls when the train lurches out of the station…
…and messing with crazy people.
Witness: This morning I board the downtown express at 42nd and–because I am eerily observant and perceptive, which is why Maud and I will eventually start a PI firm–notice a Legitimately Insane Person sitting on the bench by the door. I stay away from him. He has an enormous backpack and a stack of books next to him on the seat and is rather furiously writing on a diner placemat. Enter a family from some small town in Iowa or the Dutch equivalent of some small town in Iowa.
They ask him to move his stuff so that they can sit down. He throws down his pen, shoves EVERYTHING on the floor, jumps up, stomps his feet, shouts, then picks everything up and sits back down. They look alarmed for a moment, then sit down next to him, probably thinking, “Oh, that’s NYC, it’s just so quirky.”
Hey, you know what? THAT IS NOT NORMAL SUBWAY RIDERSHIP. Do they not have crazy people where you people come from? They might call it “touched in the head” there.
If New Yorkers have learned anything in recent months, other than the fact that the Jets suck, it’s that asking someone to move their shit on the subway is a surefire way to get yourself killed.
So, I ask visitors to NYC: If you see a man who looks like Harvey Korman (if Harvey Korman were wearing three coats and socks over his shoes) on the subway, just leave him the hell alone. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to sit on the Circle Line tour of the Statue of Liberty.
Unrelated, but I just remembered it: My best friend in Savannah had various ways of mocking my taste in music. He found it most hilarious that I owned records by both the Sea and Cake and Cakekitchen. And he would refer to all the bands I liked as as Cake. Which made me insane because Cake sucks. (He would also express his dislike of a song by exclaiming, “Who is this, the Talking Heads?” As if anyone could hate the Talking Heads.)
When I go to the gime, I don’t talk to anyone. And no one talks to me. It seems as though there is an implicit understanding that someone who cannot be bothered to comb her hair or wear matching socks is also not very friendly. And this is true.
On the other hand, there are gym regulars that I count on seeing. (They act as a human sundial to the rays I generate from the fiery hate for mankind that burns within me.) There’s the stinky pants guy, the scary character actor guy*, the woman who spends all day wandering naked around the locker room, and the person whom I affectionately think of as the Bionic Lesbian.
The Bionic Lesbian is a gender nonconforming gym rat who’s always there when I’m there–so I have to assume that she’s** there every day, given how irregular my “workout routine”*** is. She is profusely tattooed and impressively sinewy. I’ve seen her do pull-ups for 5 minutes straight and bench-press like 200 lbs. I would seriously love to know what she does for a living. I dunno…for all I know she’s an accountant. But I like to imagine that she fights crime or is working on a cure for cancer because she’s so awesome.
Or maybe she’s a total asshole like all the other weightlifter types at the gym. (I ascribe either beatific and magical qualities or loathsome and terrible qualities to complete strangers. This leads to inevitable disappointment.)
So today, the BL was not around. And I am glad. Because today in the locker room I realized that I was wearing the Underwear of Last Resort…my Rolling Stones Underoos. I bought them at the Beall’s Outlet when I was visiting my mom one time. (The Beall’s Outlet is a Florida chain that sells amazing crap that no one wanted five years ago. I got a Wacoal bra there for $12 once.) They seemed cool at the time, but now they’re just…humiliating (and comfortable). And I can’t have my gym hero seeing me like that.
Unless, of course, she saw the Underoos and decided that I was a Rock & Roll Superhero and then asked me to be her sidekick. That would be awesome.
*He himself is not scary; the characters he plays are, though…he’s always the member of a bizarrely diverse motorcycle gang.
**Here I am showing my invisible backpack of cissexual privilege by assuming that BL wishes to be referred to with female pronouns, but I’d feel like even more of a jerk if I automatically assumed that BL would prefer to be referred to as “hirm” or something similarly grammatically frustrating.
***HA HA HA
…Even after (or in spite of, depending) two giant cups of coffee. I’m feeling scattered, because I have lots of stuff to do this week and I [totally and completely lost track of what I was typing just then, because I decided to do three other things simultaneously, all of which are probably half-assed].
As such, this post will have no real narrative arc.
N and I are officially sans automobile. Last week we were trying to get our 20-year-old station wagon inspected before the current inspection expired, but our usual mechanic–who generally holds onto our car for weeks at a time, like it’s car rehab or something, and then returns to us a rejuvenated car with a more clearly defined sense of purpose–couldn’t fit us into his rather busy schedule of holding onto other people’s cars for weeks at a time.
So, our inspection expired and we drove our illegal automobile over the bridge to Greenpoint, where the mechanic wisely looked under the hood before he even began the inspection.
“You need two new struts and this hose needs to be replaced.”
N and I have discussed precisely how much money is too much to throw at a car with a Bluebook value of $50 (and that’s because it has a tape deck). “How much would all that cost?” N asked.
The mechanic motioned the garage owner over.
He started out, “Yeah, you’re looking at probably $90 for each strut, plus $65 labor for each side, plus this hose–well, the hose is like $20–but we have to remove the axle to replace it, and that’s like two hours right there…” at which point I stopped hearing anything except for an old-fashioned cartoon adding machine.
He seemed to think it was a totally reasonable amount of work.
N and I turned to each other. “Maybe we should just put it up on the Free section of Craigslist,” N suggested.
“Yeah, I guess that’s our best bet.”
And it really was a bet, because part of me was hoping that maybe the owner would make a counteroffer of, say, $75 to repair everything. But it was only a really tiny part of me. Paramecium sized.
“Well, hm,” the owner said, lighting up an unfiltered Camel [Aside: They still MAKE those? I can’t believe it] and looking like he was trying to convey Deep Thinking in a game of charades. “The mechanic here needs a car.”
The mechanic looked vaguely embarrassed.
“Do you want the car?” We both asked this at the exact same time, our voices probably an octave higher because of our excitement.
The mechanic shrugged. “I could probably do something with it.”
“It’s a great car,” I offered. “Runs really well.” And that wasn’t even a lie! And even if it maybe were a little bit of a lie, the guy’s a fucking mechanic and the car is fucking FREE. Take it take it take it take it take it, I willed him telepathically.
He shrugged again. “Okay.”
I’d like to say that this was an act of altruism and generosity, or, as N’s parents would say, a “blessing.” But really, it was the opposite of selflessness. We dumped that car like it had a curse on it.
Hooray! I took the plates and registration and we marched over the bridge home, feeling a little sad. It felt like the walk of desperation you make when your car breaks down. But in this case, we were abandoning it.
Well, not quite, because the next day I marched back over the bridge to bring him the title and clear out all our cassette tapes. I patted the back hatch in a totally detached way, like I was trying to convey Old Yeller in a game of charades. Goodbye, car!
I wonder if we’ll see him driving around? Or will he opt to dump it in the East River, something we considered more than once?
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