Excuse me, but I simply must stand in your face. Yes, I realize that the subway car is nearly empty; still, somehow seeing you leaning up against the doors like that just compels me to come and stand directly in front of you. And I also need to spread my foot across like this, so that you cannot get out without interacting with me in some way. Do you mind if I touch my feet ever so slightly to yours? Forgive me. I realize that the next stop is on the other side of the subway car. Still, I need to face you intimately. I also must lean all along this pole – if you need to hold onto it, you will have to squeeze your hand between the pole and my body. Thank you, I appreciate it. Or – oh, yes, that works, too: putting your hand up by my face. I will make sure to breathe heavily upon it. Oh, this isn’t enough, I must move closer to you! I do apologize but, seeing as we’re the only two people in this very spacious subway car, I just think it is essential that we overlap as much as we can.
Mami. Excuse me. Mami. Yes, ma’am, I am referring to you. Forgive me, but you are quite attractive and I feel compelled to command your attention. Now that I have it, I’ve only one thing to say: ‘Hey, Mami.’ No, don’t look away! Please! I must insist that you continue to look at me. Attractive as you are, I have a great need to tell you something – again, I say: ‘Mami.’
Alright, I see by your studied perusal of your novel that you are not quite ready to look at me. I will sit at a little distance here and stare steadily at you, so that when you do decide to look my way, I’ll immediately know to make my approach.
No, I’m sorry, you are far too attractive, I simply must insist that you take notice of me: ‘Mmmmaaaammmmiiiiii.’
Oh, my God! You frightened me! I didn’t realize there was anyone behind me on this crowded city sidewalk! Oh, goodness! Oh, what a fright I took! I’m going to stare at you, eyes agog, for awhile, out of sheer shock at your appearing behind me on this sidewalk! Forgive me, but I thought I was the only person in NYC. They’ve let two people in? At 4:00 in the afternoon? Oh, no, I’m sorry – you cannot get around me yet. I need a few minutes to process that you’re walking behind me. I’m sorry, I just can’t get over the shock of it – what are you doing? You want to walk around me to the right? But what if I want to drift over to the right just now? Like that? See? I might want to use that side of the sidewalk. Oh, now you would like to pass me to the left? But, wait! What if I want to drift over there? No, I think it’s best that you not pass me at all. I really can’t condone all this passing each other on sidewalks. I didn’t expect there to be anyone but me on the sidewalk today, but surely, if we’re both going to be walking through the city, the proper thing is to do it in a single-file line. What on Earth! You’re still trying to pass me!? I said no. Who the hell are you?
Pardon, but is this seat taken? I see that you are the only other occupant of this large, empty deli, and I need to have an audience for a phone conversation I am about to make. Shall I sit right here next to you? Yes, I think that’s best. You can put away your book now: I have the most fascinating conversation to present. It is about business – business that is every bit as vague as it is impressive. You see, I have a colleague, and I must explain to someone over my phone about this colleague’s being an idiot. I promise you, you’ll want to know, too. I will really emphasize this colleague’s idiocy, and I will look at you out of the corner of my eye and project in your direction so that you’ll know you are included. No, no, don’t put on your headphones! Alright, I will speak more loudly, because this is the best part: my colleague, you see, accused me of not giving him a copy of something that I in fact did give him a copy of! Can you believe that? Do you grasp its full import? I don’t feel you really understand – let me repeat the incident 50 times with slight variations, so that you can be left in no doubt: my colleague is indeed an idiot!
Once, in an otherwise empty subway car, I awoke to find a woman seated smack-dab against me. When I eyed her suspiciously, she asked, “May I lean against you for warmth?”
Yes, I sleep in subway cars. If your morning commute was 90 minutes long, you would, too.