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2004-12-21 - 5:02 p.m.

One of my very special pet peeves, the kind of offence I believe reserves you a private room in the deepest dankest pit in the bowels of Orson Wells’ ass in the deepest dankest pit in hell, is taking a one stop ride on public transportation. Whether you’ve decided those fifteen stairs are too much to bear before you hit the gym, running the elevator to the second floor, or jamming a packed Subway train to go from Third Avenue to Union Square.

Those outside the city might note, Third Ave and Union Square are the two closest subway stations in the entire city. If you had one of those Riccola guys squatting outside Third Ave with his horn out, midway through his first moose in heat call, someone in Union Square could drop a marble in the other end.

This is why I take great offence when a woman, befrocked in a Anna Wintour approved fur coat large enough to encapsulate an entire tribe of critters, decides to take a running start leap into the packed train with enough force and determination that you can almost hear Bella standing beside her screaming “You can do it!”

The “Excuse me”’s pouring out of her mouth with regurgitaive haste don’t actually bear any of the subtext of the words “excuse me.” The words mean what they often mean in New York: “Fuck off.”

One minute later, she casually walks off at Union Square.

Physical and mental assault, utter rudeness, and a lack of compassion for other mouth-breathing mammals, all this is worth the saved two fucking blocks. It is during these moments that I suddenly wish I’d joined a fraternity only for those fun decorative paddles they hand out in goody bags. Aerodynamic, and capable of leaving brands in black and blues, I really feel an opportunity was lost there.

Moments like this, those are the main reasons, why my little paths headed home from work, are carefully beaten out, without unnecessary transfers, or counter productive maneuvers. I won’t take the train from sixth to third, even if it is cold enough outside to freeze a handlebar mustache worth of snot on to your face, it’s just wrong.

Still wrong or not, I can’t say I was in any way gleeful, now that I had my first mustache. I’d always hoped it would be made of thick lustrous hair, and instead yellow boogers. I kept using my sleeve anytime I had the courage to pull one of my ungloved hands of my pockets, but there is only so much mucus one jacket can absorb. (Approx 153 milliliters.)

What made the journey even that more interesting, was the fact that fourteenth street, at least between fifth and Park, was closed. Utterly shut down. Cop cars and fire trucks flanked the sidewalks, and ran sirens screaming in and out of intersections. They locked off one side of the street and pinned pedestrians to the wall with police tape on the opposite littered over the curb.

There wasn’t any fire that I could see despite the activity of the fire ladder. I can’t see that there was any major concern going on for human life on that block either, as the very next building, a large brick number housing the New York Sports Club, still had a collection of Stair masters pumping away merrily. Then again, this might have been an attempt at passive eugenics.

We shuffled along on our inch of curb trying to negotiate two opposite lanes of people, and the first snow and icing of the winter, while shop keepers on both sides of the street took advantage of a early close, smoking cigarettes, making calls, and for those with extreme work ethics, sweeping the walk.

Whatever emergency was going on, whatever concern demanded the lockdown of an entire Manhattan block, was revered with the same amount of surprise, shock and fear, that generally heralds a new movie featuring the Rock. It’s not a good thing, but, eh, we can probably avoid it.

Exactly two years back, when my first apartment in the city went up in flames, my roommate and I stood outside, chain smoking cigarettes, not talking, as our mouths were too well screwed into a collective grimace. No grief passed between us, nor terror, just a large dollop of annoyance. We were not surprised when the landlord sped from the scene, nor were we shocked to find his number disconnected.

It was the best training for a life in the City one could have asked for.

We boarded a train and went one stop in town, to a local bar, where we drank until we found someone’s couch to throw up on.

I like all my new shoes.

On the corner, by Union Square, I looked to a man standing sentry on the corner.

“What’s that all about?”

He shrugged, “Eh?”

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