Monday, February 06, 2006

The Trains We Catch and the Trains We Miss

This is a true story- I'm not Freying you. And it just happened to me.

I got on the 6 Train to come home tonight. At 42nd Street the doors opened, and many people got off. For about 10 seconds, the car was nearly empty, then lots of people starting filing in to replace the people who had just gotten up. I looked up from my book and saw men filling in the empty space in the car. All these men, eligible men, everyday I am riding the subway with them and just waiting for one of them to start talking to me.

At Canal Street I went downstairs to change to the Q. As I was coming down the stairs, I saw a train on the track. I looked and it was the Q, I ran to catch it, but the doors shut. I hoovered by the doors, incase they would open again for a second and I could shove my way in. But they didn't. Resigned, I retreated to the wall and returned to my book, Betsy Lerner's The Forest for the Trees, An Editor's Advice to Writers. I waited a while for the next Q Train and this time made it on.

At DeKalb Avenue, a seat opened up and I sat down next to a young guy. He was very bookish looking and I couldn't nail down an age for him. I continued reading. Then, I felt him looking at me. I glanced up. "I'm just looking at the title of your book," he said.

"It's very good. Very, very good. Do you write?" I asked. He nodded his head. "What do you write?"

"Poetry," he said. "And some political stuff."

"Well, this author, she was an editor and now she's an agent, but she started out getting her MFA in Poetry. From Columbia, I think."

"Do you write?"

"Yeah, I write personal essay. Narrative non-fiction. But I'm also interested in writing for children. Are you a student?" I was trying to place his age.

"Yes," he said and for an instant I feared he might be in high school. "At City. You know, CUNY."

"Are you an undergrad?"

"In between."

"Oh," I said.

"I'm an unmetriculated grad student." I told him about the class I just started taking downtown at MediaBistro. He was fishing around, in his bag, his jacket pockets. Then he pulled out a pen. "I want to write down the title of your book."

"Do you have something to write on?" I asked, as he examined the pages in the book that was sitting on his lap. "No, don't write in there. I have a card, you can write on the back of it." I handed him my business card. First he looked at the name of the company. I explained that I work for a German bank. He flipped it over to take down the title and author's name of my book, asking me about the bank. He wanted to know why they have an office in the states. I explained that they invest in North American real estate. "But I"m just the Executive Assitant," I said. "I'm no banker. I speak German. That's why they hired me."

"How's your German?" he asked.

I looked at him. "It's moderately good."

"Mine's pretty bad."

"Then I won't force you to speak it," I said. He flipped my card over again and was looking at my name.

"Where are you from? Your name."

"It's Italian," I said. "I'm Italian-American."

"Why add the "American"? Why not just say "Italian"?"

"Well, I'm not Italian. I was born here. But I have a very strong connection to the Italian-American culture, so that's how I identify." I shook hands with him to formally introduce myself and he told me his name.

"Do you speak Italian?"

"Only a little. Mostly Italian-American; the bastardization of the dialect that came from living over here." He still couldn't understand why I said Italian-American and not just Italian.

"I'm Russian."

"Were you born there?"

"I was born in Europe. Undisclosed location." What is with people being so hush, hush on the train?

"A German-Speaking Undisclosed Location?"

"French-speaking." I looked up; the train was pulling into my station.

"I have to go," I said. "This is my stop. Send me an email. " He nodded; I wished him goodnight and exited the train.

Will he contact me? I don't know. Will it turn out that he's gay/ seventeen/ bipolar/ emotionally needy? Well, if my past history is anything to go on, yes, probably. But finally, someone took a chance to start a conversation with the girl wearing the cupcake scarf.

I got home to find a belated birthday card from Catherine in my mailbox. "Any new love interests?" she writes. "Well, I wish the best - it's time to start stalking because Valentine's Day is right around the corner." Maybe this year I'll be the stalkee instead of the stalker.


Joshua said...

Russian writers are a good sort-even if I still haven't finished War and Peace. It's very, very long.
Anyway, good story. Hope it works out. Is this guy, um, Tolstoy?

MCMCMCLY said...

If something develops I hope you consider writig a screenplay and then letting me make the film. This is the kind of story that will keep chicks (and homos)moving to NY forever. I've sure never met a boy on the subway in Minneapolis. Plus maybe we could make a buck or two.

Cupcake said...

I've been having really weird subway luck recently- first, I ran into that guy I went out with two years ago. Then, I chatted up the Russian. The very next morning on my way to work I saw a friend of a friend from Smith of whom I had lost contact. She is one of those people who was in New York, then left New York, then came back. She was on her way to an early morning eye doctor appointment. God knows who I'll run into tomorrow. If you ride the Q Train and you see the cupcakes, come holler.

Queenie said...

Could I have instigated yet ANOTHER Martira love story, this time, by way of seductive reading material? Am I the Martira Muse? When the Lord takes me home, will I be named the Patron Saint of Martira? ...Can I have my own stained glass window?

Cupcake said...

Queenie, if there was ever a stained glass window in your honor, you would be depicted in sweatpants with a box of wine at your side. Now quit using my goddamned last name.

PS No email from the Russian yet.

Queenie said...

Sorry. I just want you to like me and put me in your blog. Sorry. Wanna bitch slap me?