It was a Saturday night, I think, some years ago, on one of those hated expeditions to the Upper East Side (my wife says it actually happened on the Upper West), where women carry lapdogs and wear high heels with their work out gear, and fashion still lives in an eternal Prep-land that brings back flashbacks of 1980s Connecticut. Anyway, there we were, long after midnight, making our way home to Brooklyn from a friend's party, the soles of our shoes sticky from spilt Red Bull, hoping against hope to make the connection at Broadway Lafayette without too much trauma, when we witnessed one of New York's prouder moments. Going down the stairs from soupy September air into a denser olfactory fug, I heard a voice say, "I'm taking a shit!" We turned the corner, and there she was: a woman in a skirt - probably under 30 - her face blurred with drunkenness and mirth, crouching on the stairs. The moment we saw her, a voice off-stage shouted:"where the hell are you?" And she replied, shouting louder, with gusto, as she stretched out the syllables: "I'm - TAKE-ing a SHITTTT!!!"
(Thursday, 3rd April 2014) It was the middle of the morning rush hour. My wife and I were on the F train, holding onto a steel pole, warmed and clammied by prior hands. We didn’t see her at first, sitting in her corner seat in the old-fashioned subway car, but once the voice began to spool, and would not stop: oh, we noticed her. Everyone did.
Watch out for the Sicilian connection, the pizza connection. If Hispanic, they like little blonde girls, but they like blond boys too. Watch for Sicilian forkover. This train goes to Forest Hills. Forest Hills is unbelievable. Because of them. Al Dente. That’s the name of a restaurant there too. Watch out for bits of glass in the pizza. Roach. Rat poison if they don’t like you. Watch out for Captain Luis T. Minetti. Even though they’re retired, they can still be active. They’re at the post office too. Sicilian forkover. Watch out. Supposedly, they went to Stella Maris High School. St. Joseph’s. Watch out for those innocent-sounding names. St. Joseph’s Secretarial School for Women, Brooklyn, Assumpta, automatically excommunicated Sicilian. If you see those last names, there’s the bower fret. Watch out for them on trains. They don’t have to be Sicilian. They hire. Watch out for him. He could ride this F train this very morning. He doesn’t deny it. He got on at the last stop. They like unshaven stuff. Watch out for Apple Bank. I may not work there, but I have an account there. A hood is a hood. Dark glasses. Why’s he wearing dark glasses? Have my ears cut off and real pigs’ ears put on. We’re Sicilian forkover. Don’t use Santini Moving and Storage. Supposedly the police told them, you’ve got too many get rid of them. I’ve a Jew from the Germany of identity theft. Emigrant Savings Bank. Some you may know the word Kow Tow. It’s really more than a bow. Don’t think that they’re OK because they read books. Things aren’t necessarily fresh. Some open at five. It’s tax time. My taxes are in. I’ve already complained to my congressman. I like my congressman. He has aides supposedly to help him. One of them wrote a biography of him without his birthday. My clever congressman. They use my stolen medicare card. They don’t pay attention to the announcements, “No electronic devices displayed. [She was commenting on people looking at their smart phones] Watch out for Mr. Click, there. [That was me, trying to record her.]
When I gave a sidelong glance (she was a cross-eyed old lady with white hair, in a long black dress and hooded black coat — noting that although cross-eyed, she saw the people around her with great sharpness, and inserted into her running commentary chillingly specific comments in quavering witch emphasis: "look at her. She’s reading. Look at him, looking at his electronic device.”—when I snatched a glance at her, she invariably noticed: “oh, he’s got a beard. And a plaid shirt, too, on his way to work. Obviously not making much money, is he?”), my wife would hiss, “stop looking at her!” But the sinkhole of paranoia she was generating was irresistible.
After a conversation with my Russian-Jewish barber, whose son is getting married in July in a wedding palace in Queens ("how many guests are you having?" "300 hundred. Small wedding," he quips, clipping my ear hair. "I cut beard today? Very bushy. Ah, no? I understand. Beard private."), I walk to the F train, through rubberneckers on 8th street who are watching a movie set. There really isn't much to see, apart from a lot of black cabling and wiring. Though, between massive trailers and tech trucks and techies with wrap around shades and beards like Hells Angels, there are some potential anonymous star glimpses: two actors wearing FBI windbreakers in 90 degree heat. (On the 31st of May!) Entering the platform at West Fourth Street, the atmosphere starts telling me: something's different up ahead. People are gawking at a particular space, while giving it space, a wide berth. An obese-y, wrinkled homeless woman, eyes 3/4 closed through scowling, and her hoarding shopping trolley essentially its own wrinkle in time on the platform - she lives down here, essentially - this woman is fronting off with a tall, slim man in a vest (wife beater) and shorts of clashing colours and stripes. He has a beard and wears a baseball cap. Possibly a tourist? In any case, he's broken a cardinal rule: don't engage with a New York "crazy".
She is shouting in his face: "I don't fucking like you, 'cause you've got no fucking drive!" (Is she his mother? I wonder.) "Yeah! I don't fucking like you 'cause you got no pride, either." She has found her rhyme, and is warming to its pivot: "you've got no pride, no drive," she repeats again and again. The man is silent, stunned. The New Yorkers keep well away, wisely, while watching the latest installment in the 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year film. Better than Imax.
Get the fuck off the street! I hear, such beautifully-modulated single syllables, coming out the window of a black Lincoln car service (hackney cab). I look up and see an old Latin American man on a red "mobility scooter" with handle bars, kind of a 3-mile-an-hour motor bike, traveling against the flow of traffic down the side of 3rd avenue, which is one way.
The scooter-thingy reminded me of the time that a very obese man rode a similar one onto the subway, the explosive sound of him trying to, and then succeeding in ramping over the gap, drawing all our attention, and scattering a crowd of commuters who had to jump out of the way to avoid being rammed into. The stunt achieved, he sat there on his bizarre motorbike taking up the space of several people, blithely checking texts. I don't think the MTA subway authority thought to include this kind of vehicle in their rules.
Anyway, the second that the Latino dude heard the censure, he shouted, fuck you motherfucker! His swearing then descended into enraged mumbling, until I could hear no more as he proceeded to drive illegally down the avenue with cars honking to his right, with him, like many New Yorkers, believing that he was 100% in the right, but obviously and utterly not only wrong, but illegally so. New York had served up yet again one of its more perfect moments courtesy of one of its inexhaustible stock of crazies from central casting.
Finally, here is a mobility scooter jockey "taking it to the street" in rush hour Toronto: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ct-7mHlwOmA]
Having gone outside with a cute black girl, I was immediately surrounded by smooth-talking, cock-blocking Swiss and Brit Euro trash. We made up, however, by smoking a communal roll-your-own "cigarette" that induced what the posse calls a "whitener"