Monday, July 13, 2009

Stood up: an adventure on NYC Transit

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not typically a “night person.” I would much rather get up at 4 a.m. to pack for a trip, write a paper, or go running than to stay up past midnight doing any of these activities. (Although to qualify things a little bit, only packing or writing could potentially keep any sane person up so late. Once the clock rounds the 6 p.m. bend, however, even running is ordinarily out of the question for me.) Accordingly, I have been known to say on more than one occasion that if you do not get me out of the house—or in this case “apartment,” but the idea remains the same—by 9 p.m., your chances of doing so go down exponentially every ten minutes or so from that hour on. By 9:30, I will be in my pajamas, reading a book, and contemplating how early I will have to wake up the following morning to complete all of the things I had intended to do that evening.

This being said, Saturday night proved to be an exception. From the start, I had three “options,” of which I could potentially do all or none. One was an easy decision: I happily spent the evening entertaining a friend in my apartment, cooking dinner and the like. I love cooking for other people, he is great company, and staying in my apartment requires absolutely no effort in terms of physical presentation (i.e. I don’t have to wear a dress and earrings to make chicken) or bodily transportation.

The other two required more consideration. My second option was to attend a show in which another friend’s band was playing. Two factors were deterring me from choosing to attend this: 1) his band would not perform until midnight, which meant that I really shouldn’t leave my apartment until 10 p.m. or so, which as I mentioned before, is a feat nearing impossibility for a homebody such as myself, and 2) I would have to attend by myself. I had invited friends to D___’s shows before and had done so once again this time, but for some reason no one ever agrees to come along. Needless to say, the late performance time and lack of company “expecting” me to be there ended truly discouraged me, and I decided, as M___ and I dined on chicken, Tuscan vegetables, corn on the cob, and M&M brownies, that I would skip that event.

My third option was a bit harder to ignore. A___, friend who I had invited to D___’s show (and who had declined due to other commitments), was in town just for the weekend and wanted me to come bar-hopping with her and her friends after I attended the show (which, of course, I had decided not to do). Oftentimes I will try to circumvent invitations like this by making alternative plans to see someone who comes into town at a time when I am more motivated to travel for an hour by subway (say, 10 a.m.); however, I had already missed her 25th birthday party the last time she came to NYC, so I felt doubly obligated to go out on the town with her this time around.

Thus, when M___ left my apartment around 11:30 p.m., I cleaned up the kitchen, looked forlornly at the wrinkled pajamas lying in my closet, sighed at the thought of going out into the rain that was pelting at my window, and called A___. “We’re about to cab it to a loft party by Canal and Broadway,” she told me. “Just get to those cross-streets and call me when you get there so I can tell you the place.”

Hair straightened, earrings in, skirt donned, and umbrella in hand, I set out for the E train—the closest subway running at this godforsaken hour of 12:30 a.m. Long story short, it took me an hour and fifteen minutes to make it to that Chinatown intersection, during which time I managed to finish a chapter-and-a-half of Driving Over Lemons which I had fortunately remembered to bring along.

I am uncomfortable enough being “done up” to go to a bar/club/etc., but I am doubly uncomfortable being “done up” and riding the subway at half-past-midnight with weird old men and bored looking teenage guys staring at me. Quite honestly, it makes me feel a little bit like a whore. Now, if that makes me uncomfortable, imagine how I felt standing in the dark, in the rain at this intersection random intersection in Chinatown, desperately wishing A___ would pick up her phone. Trying not to look as lost or abandoned as I truly was—and also to remain visible in front of as much traffic and as many lit storefronts as possible—I walked aimlessly up and down Canal Street, calling A___ continuously and getting nothing but tinny rings in my ear.

I wandered and waited until 2:15 a.m. before I finally gave up and went back to wait for the 6 train. With the prospect of another hour-and-a-half train ride ahead of me, I must have looked pretty dismal, because two guys standing and inspecting the subway map on the wall turned and said, “Rough night?”

I don’t know what possessed me to continue this conversation—maybe it was because there were two of them or maybe it was because of their obviously European accents—but when I nodded and the other guy asked where I had been drinking, I replied, “Actually, I got stood up?”

“Really?” The taller blond one looked surprised. “Well fuck him.”

“Well, clearly not,” I said, thinking Did I really just say that? Who am I even referring to? Now the blond guy really looked surprised.

“Indeed!” He chuckled a little bit, and his friend picked up the conversation, swaying a bit before he leaned against the wall.

“Do you love him?”

They were so drunk and I was so not, and so I decided to fashion a rather intricate story about having arranged to meet up with my ex-boyfriend. He was a lawyer, and we had met in law school—I was in my last year—and he had dumped me several months ago, only to decide he missed me and wanted to see me again. After much cajoling, I apparently agreed to this, and was to have met at a local bar. He, however, never showed up, and I was planning to never speak to him again. Apparently I had decided that this was “his loss,” and there were, “no third chances. This isn’t baseball.”

I have never lied so elaborately before, and I must say, when I watched those two boys stagger off the train at 34th street, I couldn’t help but wonder if they’d even remember me or my story the next morning. However, that was the beauty of it: it was just a story, and therefore it didn’t matter if they remembered it or not. They could always go read a book or watch a movie and enjoy another equally dramatic, entertaining story. And at least telling it took up half-and-hour of my ride home.

So ultimately, being stood up wasn’t a complete loss after all. Next time, though, I do hope my date shows up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Seems like another one-act play to me. Well, actually, 2 or 3 acts.