Stave off the Fury

I’m writing in the way that I least like to write this blog. I’m sitting down with only vague unrelated snippets of thought that don’t seem to coalesce into anything, so bear with me. I’m not going to make a list, but if these thoughts seem unrelated, please forgive me.

On the train three nights ago, coming home from rehearsal, a pretty girl got on and sat down across from me. Because it was the N and it was after eleven, the train was packed like a New York City train ought to be. Next to me were two young Arab guys with Backstreet Boys beards and tight dark t-shirts revealing their too-much-time-in-a-gym bodies and a fair dabbling of gold jewelry. I only knew they were Arab because they were reading a paper written in Arabic.

I was listening to my discman because my Ipod is at Ian’s, and the CD I burned (by selecting things are random in Itunes and hitting the “burn CD” button) had “Wicked Little Town” from Hedwig followed by “Ruby Baby” from Donald Fagan’s “The Nightfly” and that combination is so nice I’m gonna do it on purpose on my next mix.

Anyway, the pretty girl was by no means conventionally pretty. I like girls who are maybe just a little too thin, just a little too tall, just a little like my wife, and this girl was sort of like that, down to the long nose and weird shoes. She was holding a small bouquet of flowers and as she sat across from me, she had her eyes closed. Tired, but mostly, y’know, contented, it seemed to me.

And then I realized, it was Wednesday. Very possibly, at 11:50 on a Wednesday night, she had just opened a preview of her show. Or her show’s been running for a while, but someone special came to see her tonight and brought her flowers. She was definitely a dancer, as she sat across from me, her legs crossed at the knee, she kept making large circles with her dangling foot, the way you do when you’ve been dancing your whole life.

Mac says our neighborhood has changed a little bit since he moved here six years ago. It used to be that all the cute girls got off at the last stop in Manhattan, but now that is clearly not the case. Young hipsters are moving to our neighborhood, even out past the last stop, and although I’m not totally against that, I do believe that we have amazing Greek and Japanese and Middle Eastern restaraunts not because hipsters go to them, but because Greek and Japanese and Middle Eastern people do. Plus, the fewer hipsters, the lower the rent, so I’m fine with this place not getting any more posh.

Anyway, my dancer girl got off at Mac’s stop and it was just me sitting with the young polished Arab guys and the rest of the hoi polloi. As we got near my stop, I glanced over and the Arab guy sitting next to me was looking for a phone number on his picture phone. When he couldn’t find it, he went back to the default picture. I thought I had seen it wrong, and kept stealing looks to doube check and then I saw that, yes, for sure, it was a picture of the World Trade Center burning. The Arab guy had a picture on his phone from when the second plane hit.

I don’t know. I had a moment of twinge and thought maybe I ought to say something, and, y’know, maybe I should have. But I didn’t, and I didn’t for a couple of reasons.

One, I just didn’t feel threatened. When tigers walk past each other on the plains, they know which tiger smells like he’s trying to fuck shit up, and I think people feel the same. I’m sure I’ll get shit for this, but this guy is just another guy who probably likes to talk a big game, works out too much at a gym, but would run at the first sign of trouble.

Two, I’ve done a lot of stuff in my life just to try to shock people, to get a rise out of them. I’ve always talked a good game about destroying the power structure and fighting the dominant paradigm, but a lot of that was theoretical. The kind of leap from thought to action is a million miles wide. In fact, I think the war between Bin Laden and Bush is a war of two guys willing to act without thinking, and that has inspired the multitudes because mostly we just think and then talk. No-one ever does anything, and this guy wouldn’t either.

Three, and this is the real reason, this guy was on the train with me. Guys in my neighborhood walk around with pictures of the world trade center on fire and the words “Never Forget” underneath them. Shit, half the people in my neighborhood have offensive-ass crap on their bumper stickers and t-shirts. There are “Hillary, Go Home” and “I Didn’t Vote For Bush, Chances Are You Didn’t Either” stickers on every other car. (How droll, n’est pas? To drive around New York with a bumper sticker saying you didn’t vote for Bush. Wow, *that’s* telling ’em!)

I mean, this kid on the train lives in my neighborhood. I’ve got friends who are producing a play called “I’m Gonna Kill The President” and it’s going up, in New York, during the convention. Am I turning these guys in? Members of my own family have followed assassination jokes with “God willing”, Jordana’s mom said she would vote for a Kerry/McCain ticket if we could be promised that Kerry would be killed, friends have detailed the tiny assassination bug robots they want to develop to get rid of world leaders. I mean, we’re just talking here.

And plus, the long faced girl with the eyes-closed smile holding a batch of flowers and making circles with her foot reminded me that terrorists are trying to make terror, Bush is trying to breed dissent and fear, and that all that matters to me and my people is that we can have three squares a day, a roof over our heads and a chance to tell our stories. This beautiful awkward girl just danced for two hours and someone gave her flowers for it, a scene that could have happened fifty million years ago on the plains of the Serengeti. When that most basic interaction takes place, I just don’t care about anyone trying to scare me.