Another train story.

Monday afternoon, I was riding the D train down to the west side of Manhattan. Directly across from me, I saw two men sitting side by side, dressed almost identically. They wore identical pinstriped suits, one in gray, the other in blue. One man’s knee rested against the other’s and they conversed quietly.

Three teenaged girls entered the train and sat beside me. They talked among themselves–nothing obnoxious or loud or particularly noticable, really. After they’d been on the train about fifteen minutes, though, I heard one of the guys across from me speak to the girl immediately to my left: “If you’ve got something to say, say it so we can all hear.”

She paused for a moment and said, “We weren’t even talking about you.”

He said something I couldn’t hear and then she responded, “It’s not all about you, you know.”

“You were staring,” he said.

I think at this point, the other guy urged the first guy to let it go. They whispered to each other, and I heard the angry guy say, “But……and she……but they…..”

We pulled in to the next station. The men were still discussing the girls, and I heard one girl say, “We’re getting off here, right!” It wasn’t a question. They left the train, and I made sure not to make eye contact with the guys across from me.


Updates have dropped off, and people are starting to complain.

Rode into work this morning on the F train, up to 42nd Street, and then the D to 161st. The F was crowded, as usual, and so I stood most of the trip. Watching people on the train is always entertaining. I stood watching a man in a plaid flannel shirt, right arm in a sling, sitting hunched over a sheet of paper, filled with what looked like poems. He was an older man, with thinning silvered hair, craggy face, and a thin gray mustache. He worked with a pen through the poems, underlining words and phrases, circling others, and making notes in the margins.

Next to him stood a tall man, also older, who tilted his head down and looked over the seated man as he marked up the poems. For a short time, the standing man seemed like a sort of tutor for the silver-haired man.

At one of the Brooklyn stops, perhaps Jay Street, I watched passengers board the train. An Asian woman entered and stood next to me. Her face is neither attractive nor unattractive, but its lines and planes are interesting to study. The face is also familiar, because the same woman stood right next to me on the train yesterday. Although I do tend to see certain people repeatedly during the week, it’s rare to be right next to the same person two days in a row.


Walking from the subway up to work this morning, I hear a horn honk to my left. I ignore it, but the car honks again. I still ignore it, but then I hear a woman shouting in Spanish. I turn to look and see a minivan driving by. The side door is open in back and a woman’s kneeling inside, topless but for a pair of suspenders.

She laughs, jiggles herself at me, and the van drives off.

Ah, New York.

Friday night, lower Manhattan

Friday night, lower Manhattan. I’m in from Brooklyn on the F train, stomping up to Ace, a dive bar in the East Village, to meet friends for drinks. Ace is on Fifth between Avenues A and B and I’m crossing Houston, heading north on Avenue A.

I notice a sharp-looking young lady well in front of me. About 5’8″, thin, wearing a striped miniskirt, knee-high socks, and her hair pulled back into two little ponytails on either side of her head. In other words, that schoolgirl look that’s so played and yet so capable of turning me to mush.

Unable to resist stalker urges, I quicken my pace to catch up with her. Just past Houston, and not paying close enough attention to my surroundings, I’m startled by about six young people, running full throttle in the other direction. One of them nearly slams me at full speed, but I sidestep just in time.

I wonder what they’re running from but I don’t really pay them much attention. I notice, though, the woman I’m following is standing there, mouth wide open, watching them tear by. I start walking again and almost catch up to her when she starts moving quickly again up Ave. A.

At the next corner, two men are arguing loudly, very loudly. A small crowd gathers at a distance, I think hoping to see blood splash and spray. One man’s doing most of the screaming. Nothing coherent–just a lot of “Fuck you motherfucker and fuck your motherfucking motherfucker too.” The other man shouts back more of the same. I notice he has a small, yappy dog on a leash, barking at the first man.

Now of course this all makes me curious, but I don’t need to get involved. What I want instead is a bar and a pint glass and my friends around me. So I start to morph into the thousand-yard stare, the one where you’re vigilant of your surroundings but pretending not to be. Don’t make eye contact, especially not with the nutters, and roll on, roll on, roll on, roll on.

Right then, though, I notice what the girl I’ve been following is now doing. She’s approaching the nutters, arms held out in front of her, and she’s trying to step in between them. Just as I’m processing that bit of lunacy, I see the loudest of screamers rear back with his right foot, and plant a firm kick into the torso of the barking dog, who yelps loudly, flies about a foot into the air, and lands again with a whine.

What was chaotic has now become a maelstrom. The second guy is screaming now more loudly than before, the screamer guy who just kicked the dog is about ready to rain blows down on a human, and the girl I’ve stalked is now even more determined to wade into the fray. I hear her say, “Stop it! Stop it now! How can you kick a puppy? Stop it! Don’t do this!” One guy starts shouting at her to fuck off out of their business, but she stays in the thick anyway.

I have no idea what to expect now. The girl is trying to get the guys to back off each other, but she’s the only bystander who’s involved. The dog is whimpering, the guys screaming, and other passersby agape. Convinced that the girl risks a face-pulping of her own, I think about whether I’d be willing to wade in and yank her out if either guy took a swing at her.

The fight moves off down the street, away from me. The girl sort of trails behind, and I figure any Jane who’d follow these idiots doesn’t need me risking my skin for her. I continue up Ave. A toward Ace. A block up, at the next corner, is a Key Foods–a supermarket–and in front I see two guys talking. One of them says, “Yeah, they got her wallet, her keys, her cash, all her credit cards…” He continues talking but my eyes are drawn to a woman behind him, crying and standing alone.

The pack of young nutters tearing down Avenue A near Houston now makes sense to me.

I watch as another woman comes out of the Key Foods and puts an arm around the crying woman and I step aside to make way for the police. I keep going, a little jostled by all this, and a few minutes later arrive at Ace with a story to tell.


I believe I’ve mentioned how much I love this city; here’s another reason why:

Tonight, I was hungry for tortellini with a nice red sauce. So just before 7:30, I set out to buy some tortellini and some sauce. I walked down the stairs of my building, turned right at the entry way, and walked up 7th Ave., about a block, to Fratelli Ravioli, a shop specializing in Italian foods. I bought some spinach tortellini, a tub of frozen sauce, a sphere of yummy fresh mozzerella, and a jar of Nutella. (Nutella might not seem Italian, but apparently it is.)

After making those purchases, I walked another block and stopped in at a store specializing in wine and spirits. A lovely young woman was conducing a wine tasting, so I sampled her offerings and selected an Argentinian red to accompany my pasta. I then walked home, arriving back at the apartment a little after 7:45.

So. In just under twenty minutes, I bought all the makings for a delicious dinner and I drank wine from the hands of a hot blonde.

I love this place.


I’m not sure how the Park Slope Starbucks became the hangout of choice for latch-key, preteen fashionistas. This afternoon, I was working in Starbucks, editing some cookbook chapters. Shortly after three, the place was stinking with fifth graders whose back-to-school wardrobes cost more than I make in a month. They chattered and shrieked and laughed and gossiped as I packed up my laptop and went home.


Here’s an interesting set of statistics:

Brooklyn alone contains 2.3 million people, making it the largest New York borough. Were Brooklyn to secede from the City of New York, it would become the fourth largest U.S. city, after the remainder of New York, L.A., and Chicago. With a population of well over two million, Brooklyn has more people than does Nebraska, both Dakotas combined, or Maine.

This place is big.