Saturday, November 07, 2009

The most disgusting thing in New York

You will need to sit down.

I was waiting for the subway, and I notice some movement on the tracks. It's a rat (bing: that's grossness level 1), and it's dragging something, struggling to hoist it over the next tie, onto the rail; the haul periodically falls back into the gutter, the rat pauses, stuggles and drags it up again (2). The haul, as it turns out, is another rat (3). A dead rat (4), flopping lifelessly up and over and down the obstacles as the live rat drags it along. In fact, the dead rat itself looks oddly like two dead rats intertwined at the tail or at the rump - but that, it turns out, is because it is really a single rat that has at some point been split by a passing subway wheel, its two halves attached now only by a few bits of flesh, like some open-faced rat sandwich, like a butterflied rat, flopping open and closed and open and closed as his friend drags him along the rails (um, 5?). By now of course I am absolutely horrified, and also mesmerized, and horrified, and mesmerized, and also wondering why the live rat is doing this - is this some kind of comrade in arms thing? Soldier down, have to drag him back to the rat's nest and give him a proper burial? What is the evolutionary adaptiveness of that, exactly? This rat risking his life on the same rails that felled his brother? I soon get an answer, though: the reason live rat is pausing periodically is not just to gather his strength, but to lean down and nibble on the splayed entrails of dead rat, nom nom nom, drag a bit further, pause and eat, repeat.

And (6).

Friday, November 06, 2009

Random people who recognize me

One is the rasta at the Trader Joe's wine store - not that I even go in there that often (honestly). I used to think he just liked to flirt; I (meaning my hair) get a certain reaction from Caribbean men, but sure enough he would single me out even when I wasn't his customer, maintain a certain continuity of conversation, remark on when he hadn't seen me in a while.

Another is the guy in the booth at the downtown/Brooklyn R/W stop. He always waves or smiles or something. Again, I wasn't sure for a long time whether he was really recognizing me or just being outgoing, until he acknowleged me on street level one day when I saw him on his break, grabbing something from a deli. Now, this guy is oddly (for the MTA) young and somewhat hip and something about him screams creepy/pathological. One time, I was getting on the train late at night to go to Brooklyn, I swipe my card in the turnstile and let myself in, kind of deliberately ignoring the booth, and from behind me I hear him lean over, press the microphone button and softly intone "Have a good night..."

And finally, we have the guy who mans the newspaper stand facing the doors of building I come out of when taking a certain shortcut. This guy I actually did think recognized me, as he would always instantly acknowledge me when he saw me, and it does only take about five seconds for me to pass by his stand. Sometimes he would even call out a "How are you?" and so one day I decided to stop and chitty chat for sec. He asked if I worked around here and I said no but I lived nearby. After a few seconds I said goodbye and the next week when I saw him I stopped again, only to have exactly the same conversation ("Do you work around here?"). Annoyed, I started walking away, to which he said "Wait, how can I see you again?"
"I'll walk by again."

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Me [having just grabbed a 6-pack from the cooler]: "Could you exchange two of these for the ones you have on ice? They're not very cold."
Random customer: "Exchange em all! Exchange em all."
Me: "Well, I'm not going to drink them all right now."
Random customer: "Imma drink em with you. Imma get two more six-packs and meet you outside."

Woman in elevator with me, to man in elevator with me: "I was hoping to catch up with you! I want to yell at you."
Man: "Oh?"
Woman: "I saw you walk across 15th street on your cell phone without even looking! There was a cab coming, you know. You're lucky you didn't get hit!"
Man: "S'alright."
Woman: "No it's not alright! You have to be more careful."
Man: "S'alright."
Woman: "Tsk. You're too young!"
Man: "My sister gave her life for this country, so if I go... I don't mind."
Woman: "You have to be more careful."
Man: [getting off elevator] "You take care, ma'am."
Woman: "No, you take care! Hahaha."

Me: "Could I get a chicken kabob?"
Vendor: "You want it on a pita?"
Me: "Yes, please."
Vendor: "You want onions? tomatoes? lettuce?"
Me: "All of that. And do you have, like, white sauce?"
Vendor: "I don't have like white sauce, I have white sauce."
Me: "Uh, heh, okay then. Could I have some?"
Vendor: "Those other guys, who have white sauce in a bottle like this? [grabs squeeze bottle of hot sauce]. That's just mayonnaise."
Me: "Oh yeah?"
Vendor: "They don't have real white sauce. They don't know how to make it. They're not Greek like me. See? Look at this [opens metal cover]."
Me: "That looks great. Lots of cucumber."

The World Series

When we arrived at Eric's to watch the game (actually to eat nachos and watch youtube videos and giggle), there were several fire trucks - and news trucks - outside the building across from his on 104th street. Later, during the game, we googled what had happened, and found out that a woman had died in a fire on the third floor. And hours later when we left, and walked back down 104th street towards the 1 train, at that very moment the M.E. wheeled the body bag out on a stretcher right in front of us, opened the back of the M.E. van, and loaded it in. Lemme tell you, the M.E.'s van is no hearse, and it's no ambulence - the body goes on a shelf beneath a bunch of chemicals and next to a bunch of instruments.