Reluctantly, I take the cramped seat in between the old man and the rail. I wouldn’t normally do this as I actually prefer to stand.
You see, my newest fascination is the childish game of “look ma, no hands” while riding the subway. You let go of any handrails, get your balance under your feet, relax your knees and then you ride that train like it is a wild animal, relying completely on balance and strength to keep you from being thrown to the ground as it stops and starts along the route. When it lurches forward, I lean in to brace myself for the buck. When the train crashes and grinds to a halt, I lower my honches and pull back on the invisible reins. Whoa nelly.
Of course, in my head I envision myself as a cross between Teenwolf (Speaking of Teenwolf, rent it sometime with a friend who has a lot of body hair and you will be forced to see that movie in a totally new light!) and Kevin Bacon’s character from Tremors. I get my smooth, surf-inspired style from Teenwolf of course. The Kevin Bacon thing is thrown in there because he rode on the back of a giant worm in that movie if I remember it right.
But today I’m not standing. I’m sitting. And I’m sitting next to an old man.
Oh great. Now he’s asking me a question. I don’t know anything. I’m still new here.
“Does this train go to Canal?” he asks.
My first silent thoughts aren’t exactly polite. Aren’t you like 100 years old or something? Don’t you know your way around here yet?
“I don’t know,” I say to get out of the exchange and go back to minding my own beeswax. (My regular beeswax minder was off for the day.)
“Oh, I just wasn’t sure if this train went there or not, you know…”
Just then I remembered that I read the book Tuesdays With Morrie and I began to feel guilty because if there was a point to that book it was that all old people have an incredible amount of wisdom in them and it is up to each and every one of us to draw that out and honor it. And if we happen to later profit on that wisdom with a million dollar book deal than so be it.
Bingo, I think to myself. If I play this right, this old guy could be my million dollar book deal.
And with that completely self-serving thought, I finally convinced myself to take the five seconds to turn around and look at the large subway map to find out for this old man if our train went to Canal Street. Which it did.
Now just to flesh this story out to 200 pages…