I’m trying to concern myself with thoughts other than the fact that there’s a German man’s crotch a couple inches from my face. Meg and I are riding the subway back to Queens after an awesome yet exhausting day in Manhattan. It’s stuffy and crowded. I think I might pass out on this bench we’re seated on. The tan German guy with slick blonde hair grasps a pole in front of us. Why can’t he just turn his pelvis a little bit? He speaks to the equally tanned blonde lady sharing the pole with him and it sounds like, “Ja! Mein bulge es en fruunt of zat girl. I weel keel her with my vienerschnitzel.” Sweat beads trickle down my forehead.
Since Halloween is approaching I think about my favorite Tales from the Crypt episode (Split Second). It’s about a demented lumber camp owner who marries this sexy waitress. She gets the hots for one of the younger lumberjacks in the camp and her hubby turns into a psycho. I’m about to turn into a psycho myself with all this undesirable penis business.
The subway begins to slow and screeches to a halt. The doors whir open and hot air rushes into the car. The German couple exits and I thank my lucky stars. A few more people shuffle in but the car is much less full now. I’m feeling downright awful, though. “Am I the only one sweating?” I ask Meg, pulling my shirt collar away from my burning body.
“I think it’s that medicine you’re taking,” she says. “I can feel the A/C in here.” Yes, it must be the steroids I have to take for the poison ivy rash I’d developed recently. If I hadn’t brought them along I might very well be itching all over the place like a flea-infested monkey. I try to relax and distract myself with people-watching. The guy in front of me has fallen asleep. He’s got his headphones on and he’s slumped in such a way that it appears he has no neck. Soon I’m thinking about Jabba the Hutt and that big blubbery body. Damn it’s really hot in here. I grab my hair and pull it off my neck. There’s a faint ringing in my ears and my vision blurs temporarily.
“I gotta get off this thing and get some fresh air,” I say. “Next stop.” I glance at the corner of the car by the door. An old lady in a headscarf is eyeing me with disapproval. Her face looks like a piece of volcanic rock. With that hunch in her back, large torso, tiny arms, and sharp yellowy eyes, she might be related to Godzilla. I blink hard. I am relieved to say the car slowed at this time and I practically hurled myself at the doors and sprinted up the steps and outside.
Fresh air never tasted so good. We sat on a bench near the station while I recovered. But we weren’t alone. Oh, what fuckery is this? I watched with interest as an impressively plump rat scuttled toward us. I gasped as it made a beeline for Meg’s feet. “Eee! Eeeeee!” I cried with moronic excitement. She looked all around and totally missed it. Our very first rat sighting in New York City.
Later once we reached the apartment I collapsed on the bed. I felt dirty. The collective grime of the city settled on my skin and I desperately needed to scrub it off. Smog, germs, grit, sticky subway floors, vermin…all that filth. The scum of New York.
But I sure don’t mind getting dirty if it’s worth it – and despite my bitching about the heat and threatening genitalia, it really is a spectacular city.