Saturday, December 24, 2011

America, 2011

I decided to trade sleep for a quicker, earlier train into New York. As you might imagine, it’s more popular to spend one hour getting into the city than two, so the train was packed. But more packed than I’d ever seen it – this was rush hour plus Christmas shoppers-and-tourists. Car after car, there were either no seats or families who managed to take up so much space with their stuff and food (who’d have thought fast-food bagels could have such an odor? I guess in a closed space, most food does) that the occasional one seat available would have meant crashing a jovial early Christmas party of perfect strangers with whom one has nothing in common other than living in but wishing to spend time away from New Jersey, and asking them to move their stuff to space that simply wasn’t there. Stuff ought not to take precedence over people when it comes to seats on trains, what with people and not stuff spending $33 on tickets, but it’s one of those things where you can make a fuss, but then you end up at the bottom of the avalanche of American Girl dolls, and standing starts to look like the way to go.

So car after car, same deal. I joined the horde of preppy types looking for seats, figuring that if a horde was looking, I wouldn’t find anything. I then see one prime aisle seat, not one of those no-window spots, facing the right way. I asked the man in the window seat if the aisle was taken, he said no, I sat down.

Now let’s think for a moment. Why was this seat free? No one in the general vicinity smelled or was eating anything. No one was projectile vomiting or visibly struck with a skin-eating bacteria. Yes, the man in the aisle seat was wider than he was narrow, but this is ‘merica, so was almost everyone else on the train. Yes, some of the horde was made up of families who wanted to be seated together and were holding out for a group of empty seats, but others were just the regular businesspeople. So what on earth could it have been?

Any guesses?

I’m going to speculate that the fact that this one seat was available has something to do with the fact that the man in the window seat was, unlike the others on the train, black. Dark-skinned, with dreadlocks in a ponytail. Otherwise utterly unremarkable, maybe 30, maybe 35, and spent the trip playing with his iPhone like all the other yuppies.


In other, less depressing, news from the world beyond the woods, my mother and I met a dog that was like a tiny Bisou - a dark gray toy, whose tininess really drove home that Bisou's on the gigantic side of miniature, the "medium" size poodles come in. As inevitably happens when dog owners connect, the question of provenance arose. No doubt because of this dog's similarity to Bisou, my mother asked if it came from a breeder. "We wanted to get a rescue dog," the owner began, and I figured, here it comes. Instead, what came was a "but." But, she and her family live in a very small apartment, and were not approved for one. Instead, they went with a "reputable pet store," and we learned what that means, and no, I'm not convinced it means anything in particular, but she seemed to have her story straight. I am convinced, however, that there are rescue promoters who take their work so seriously that they're going around telling people their apartments are too small for a toy poodle, a breed it's hard to picture existing anywhere but a small apartment.

No comments: