Thursday, August 09, 2001

Me, the 7 train and the mindset

I'm riding the 7 train from the Vernon/Jackson stop in Long Island City (Queens) into Manhattan on a HOT July Thursday. A middle-aged man enters the car, zipping up his zipper while the train is in transit (not uncommon to move between cars while train is in transit). I assume he was urinating between cars, and turn my thoughts elsewhere.

The car is bursting and thick with mid-day travelers, yet the “zipper fellow” navigates through the crowd as if possessed, pushing to the rear of the car. As soon as he reaches the other end, the door from which he entered re-opens. An unnaturally tanned woman with bright blue eye shadow, pink lipstick, four-pound-ornate-as-hell earrings, and teased-to-the-brink-of-liftoff "poofball" hair, enters my crowded car. She scans the motley group of riders as if trying to "find Waldo". Her sense of purpose is a force none of the thirty or so occupants of the car can ignore. After a few uncomfortable seconds of her blinkless stare, picking among us, her eyes become tight like a mole's, focusing on our most recent addition, all the way at the rear of the train.

The "zipper man" is propped up against the rear door, clutching a tattered duffle bag as if it contained his soul, and his baseball cap is over his face as if taking a siesta.

"You little bastard," she bellows through the car, still blinkless. "Do you want me to tell all these people what you were doing you fucking pervert?!" Her middle-aged lipid deposits rippling through her body, accentuated by her unnecessarily tight, bra-less halter top and two-sizes-too-small pink Lycra stretch-shorts. "Fuck you, you sick son of a bitch," she adds.

Unfortunately for "zipper guy", he had unwittingly entered the last car on the train. He has nowhere to go. The next stop is his *only* savior. He remains motionless, continuing the siesta masquerade.

"Do you want me to tell them you were jacking-off on the train?" Her voice is becoming more irritated in reaction to his apathetic attitude. "You need help you sick fuck," she goes on, in what appears to be an attempt at a more personal attack, with the hope that he will respond. When that does not end in success, she begins moving through the car, much as he did earlier, irreverent of the current inhabitants. Her eyes are so laser-focused on him, one would swear she is trying to burn that cap right off his face, to expose the shame she so desperately believes *should*be underneath. Or, she simply wants to beat him like a circus monkey (she has enough low-grade, "corn gold" nugget rings on each hand to put him in a coma with little effort).

The tension in my car is escalating as she continues to push toward him. But, before she has the opportunity to pop that cap off his head and put a few nugget-ring imprints on his scrotum, his prayers are answered: the Lexington and 42nd stop arrives.

As soon as the doors open, everyone pours out onto the platform like we're running from the bulls in Pamplona. The woman, submerged in her disgust, is not properly positioned in the car to pursue the object of her current hatred. He slips into the chaotic crowd with a marksman's accuracy, and a Wimbledon ball boy's urgency. Gone.

The only remnants of the episode are the woman's screeching demands for "the authorities", bouncing off the moldy-slime covered tiles which line the subterranean 7 train platform. Meanwhile, all the witnesses of the event ascend the seemingly endless stairs leading to the "real world". Emotionless, in some form of urban mass-consciousness, methodically cleansing our psyches, purging the previous ten minutes from our memory, shoveling it all into our collective subconscious. As soon as the conscious-cleansing process is done, "Fuck me, it's hot," I mutter to myself, "I need to find some coffee."