Two Things: Crack in My Face, and the Nicest Bus Driver Ever

I’ve been in ol’ New York for almost six years now, so I can be forgiven for assuming that I’ve seen almost everything she has to offer at least once. This week, however, I learned that this wasn’t true. I saw two things I’ve never seen before, and I choose to believe that this is a message from the city, reminding me that there are new things under the sun, and even on my own block.

For example, this evening, I saw a man hail a bus, as if it were a cab. And then? The bus pull over, despite the fact that there was no bus stop anywhere on the block. I was headed back from the gym at the time, standing at a light about a block from my house, and when I saw this guy pull the bus over, I froze on the spot and gawped with my mouth open, like a tourist witnessing a mugging.

But that’s nothing compared to what I saw this weekend. Saturday, Himself and I decided to go to Target, a suitable married person suburban activity. (Which, in the city, means that one must walk three-quarters of a mile to a subway station to wait twenty minutes for a train.)

Sgt. Lucky and I were sitting in the station, patiently waiting for the train, when a man sat down at the end of our bench, and pulled something out of his jacket, lit it on fire and put it to his lips.

Smoking anything at all is verboten in the subway, but this guy looked … kinda homeless. He had an old, dirty trench coat on and a dazed expression on his face, and those Velcro sneakers that only homeless people seem to have access to anymore. (Is there a special store? Either that, or Velcro sneakers are what the cockroaches will be wearing when they take over after the Apocalypse.)

At first, of course, I assumed that he was smoking a cigarette, but then I realized it was glass. A one hitter? I thought, going back to my college days. And then a wave of chemical stink wafted over me and I realized that he was smoking crack – was blowing it, in fact, in my face. Crack in my face!

“We need to move,” I whispered to Adam.

“What is that?” he asked, as we shuffled nonchalantly down the platform.

“I think it’s crack!”

“Wow. I’ve never seen crack before!”

“Like I have? Oh, don’t look at me like that.” It’s a great joke between us that, as the partner who did not join the Marine Corps at 18, I am a dissipated person who might have been up to almost anything before we got together.

“I sort of want to make a citizen’s arrest. I wonder if we should go upstairs and see if there are any cops around.”

This being Park Slope, there were cops around. They appeared maybe three minutes later, looking more pissed off than I have ever seen cops look. But by then, Cracky had pulled a disappearing act – had, so to speak, gone up in smoke.

What an exciting spring I’m having so far! Who wants to go hail a bus?

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OId Age Setting in

I woke up at 6:30 this morning for no apparent reason. Well, actually, that’s not entirely true: I woke up at 6:30 this morning because I went to bed at 9:30 last night. I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure that’s enough sleep for anyone.

It’s pretty amazing that I managed this, though, because my neighborhood has gone insane. Some neighbor of mine was playing really weird European techno most of the evening, like loud – that volume that says, “You don’t know it yet, but you really NEED this music.” Well. I didn’t.

Opera Guy is also back. This is some random dude who roams my hood singing arias to himself. I’m not sure which mental illness would make a person do this. Maybe too much art school?

Anyway, in general lately, everyone has been very strange. I’ve taken a poll, and 9 out of 10 people who allow me to IM them agree that people are quite stare-y on the subway, unusually persistent in their pursuit of spare change, prone to fits of giggling in otherwise staid and serious meetings, unwilling to tell their partners what’s wrong, and so on.

I myself have been quite strange. For example, the other day I thought to myself, “I’m just so mad. I don’t even know why. I just hate everyone! And my boobs really hurt.” It took me a full day to realize that this condition is called PMS, and that I have had it for TWENTY YEARS.

Be careful out there, is all I can say.

Can I Get a Witness?

My neighborhood is being overrun by Jesus freaks.

I don’t even know what kind they are, because Jesus freaks are so terrifying to me that I can’t even engage them in conversation. We used to have a lot of Jews for Jesus in my neighborhood (or Jesus for Jews, or Jesusy Jews Who Like Candy, or Secret Squirrel Christians or whatever) but they seem to be gone now. They would mostly stand on street corners with their literature, asking everyone if they were Jewish and smiling creepily. Way easy to dodge. My feet have little wheels on the bottom, so I can maneuver around that shit. These news folks, though … they’re another story.

They come to your door, for one thing. Today I was enjoying a much-needed nap, when my doorbell rang. Figuring it must be either a) presents for me or b) Drunken Mouse, lost and drunk and confused about his address, I got up and pressed the intercom button.

“Hello?”

“Hello, my friend and I were wondering if we could get your opinion on the Kingdom of Heaven … hello? Hello?”

I just let them talk and got back on my couch. What a weird way to start that particular conversation, though. It seems like asking for trouble.

Update on the Subway

My week began on Tuesday with vomiting.

Not mine, I’m pleased to report. Someone else’s. I got out of the subway and there she was, Ms. Honorary Monday Hangover Right-Now, puking elaborately into a trashcan just outside the 14th street F.

Now, if she’d looked distressed, I might’ve stopped and lent a hand. I don’t, as my English friend Luke would say, mind doing a bit. Howsomever, this young lady was grinning maniacally whilst puking, which to me says crazy. If you’re smiling and puking , you better be on peyote. And even then, I’m not a-gonna stick around to talk to you.

The rest of the week was less eventful, but a definite step up.

Two Conversations: Mostly-Shirt-Free Lady on the Train

Me: Oh my God.

Matthew: I know.

Me: Look at them.

Matthew: I am. OK, don’t look at them.

Me: Sorry. They’re just mesmerizing.

Matthew:
Uh huh.

Me: Maybe we could draw little eyes on them.

Matthew: [Looking at me in alarm.]

Me:
And stick a carrot between them!

Matthew:

Me:
And then do you know what we’d have?

Matthew: …no.

Me: SNOW BOOBS!

Matthew: You. Are. So. Weird.

Me:
I know.

Matthew: WEIRD.

I mean, come on.

Goodbye to Vegas

I read about it days ago, but only just saw it myself this evening: Vegas, a reliable dive on Smith Street, has closed in favor of a Lucky Jeans store (no link given, cuz give me a break).

“Right where that zebra-striped sweatshirt is hanging? That’s where I first kissed my first New York boyfriend,” I told Stacey.

“It sucks,” she said. And started walking away. Moment passed.

It seems weird to think I’ve been here so long that a landmark could have disappeared. Then again, it doesn’t take very long for that to happen in New York.

My friend Matthew is new to the city. Four months – not just off the bus, but close enough. Everywhere we go, I think, remember. I don’t say it, because I don’t want to be a dick.

I’m just getting my “new” apartment together. After a year. On Thursday, Matthew made dinner and we ate by candlelight, toasting over pork loin and couscous and other things that just don’t exist in my fridge most of the time. If it weren’t for the triangles of toilet paper standing in as napkins, you’d think I had my shit together.

Remember
, remember, I want to say to him. You’re having another youth. The New York you see when you first arrive is the city of your heart. It shines in memory like your childhood backyard.

Tonight, at Boat, down the street from the former Vegas, a man wearing a chain around his neck tries for my phone number. He lives in Hoboken, which is not a crime, as far as I know, but indicates, perhaps, a different view of the city.

It occurs to me that I don’t want him to touch me. Not just because he’s unsuitable, although he is. But because Matthew has said to me, “I see from your MySpace that you’re in favor of the Oxford comma.” And pauses. “So am I.”

Outside, my friends say, “That guy at the bar is cute.” And I agree, because he is. And feel nothing about it.

As the man with the chain around his neck leans in to try to kiss me, and I don’t exactly rebuff him. But I can’t quite go through with it. Kissing him is like getting my teeth cleaned, I realize. Something foreign in my mouth.

“I have to go home,” I tell him.

He follows me for three blocks, trying to get me to let him come home with me, trying to get an explanation for the earliness of my leaving. At some point, maybe, we walk past the former Vegas, but I don’t see it. I’m intent on my mission, which is getting the fuck out.

If he were a different sort of guy, he might ask me what the problem was, and then I could say to him, “Everything in this city has changed but me.” And then I could explain to him that this is why I came here in the first place, to be the stable center of something wonderful.

Instead of explaining, I bid him goodbye and head toward the train. Matthew, I think. After a moment, I realize I’m not all that sorry that I never got to take him to Vegas.