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Friday, September 15, 2006


The Words of the Prophets Are Spoken in the Subway Cars

So I'm on the 4 train for my Friday afternoon ride home. Sitting there, reading the New Yorker peacefully, unaware that my life was about to change forever.

As I chuckled over a particularly witty cartoon (this is, of course, dramatic license; I find no New Yorker cartoon the least bit witty) the door between trains opened and a tall man in jeans and a flannel shirt stepped through. He stopped basically right in front of me and I braced myself.

Anyone who's lived in New York for more than a week can tell you what to expect when someone comes into your train from the door between cars: you can count on being asked for money in one of a number of ways. Often, the person is selling candy--when we first moved here, the candy-selling used to be "to raise money for my basketball to buy uniforms", even if the person was obviously thirty-five; now the invariable patter gives the reason for selling as "not for no basketball team, but for myself, to raise money to buy more candy and for so I could have some money in my pocket. If you want to buy some candy or make a donation, it will be gladly appreciated." Then they go on to tell you that, unfortunately, all they have today is Starburst, Peanut M & Ms and Jolly Ranchers.

Other times, it's a musician who's going to play for you whether you want them to or not and then act wounded if you don't want to give them money. Last night, I got on the 3 train just after a couple of drummers had wrapped up their bongo-thon and got the fun, fun treat of listening to the one guy practically yelling at everyone in the car (including poor bastards like me who hadn't even heard the goddamn music) for not appreciating. He stomped up and down the aisle, repeating variations on "You don't even have to pay me. Just at least say, 'Thanks for the music' or 'Your music's really good.'" Which I might have even taken the trouble to tell the guy, if I'd been on the train for his recital. As it was, I just shrank into my chair.

And, of course, there are always people just plain begging. Most often, they have a ten-minute explanation for why they're asking you for money. This usually involves the government screwing up their medicaid money or a psychopath who beat them up in the shelter and scared them so badly that they have to raise enough for a motel room for the night. That's fairly standard, I know. I saw variations on it in the subways in Paris and London. But New York beggars go that extra mile with their tales of woe. They really do. It's a point of civic pride.

Best of all, though--and this really depends on your point of view and/or proximity to the person in question--are the utter crazies. A lot of the time, they'll zero in on one person and just start berating them for no reason, accusing the now terrified commuter of everything from looking at them wrong to attempting to steal their gold teeth. The other night, I rode the 2 train with a guy who jumped in and out of his seat, laughed maniacally and then started yelling something along the lines of "You fucking cunt!" repeatedly. That one was more worrisome than entertaining.

Today, though, today was something special. The tall man in jeans and flannel stopped in front of me and then paused. We all knew he was about to speak and I'm sure we all readied ourselves to keep reading, no matter what kind of sob story he threw at us. But there was no sobbing. Instead, he said something along the lines of the following:
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am here to talk to the men. God made us. He made men in His own image, but he also made women. And he gave them something men like. I am speaking of the butt. Now, butts are for two purposes. Sitting...
And here he squatted down a bit to demonstrate how this was done.
...and excreting. These are the only two purposes of the butt. So why are men driven to look at the butt? What power does it hold on us? We should think of God and not look at the butt. It is not there for us to look at. Think of God instead.
Such a simple message. And yet so beautiful. From here on out, I am going to take his words to heart. When I look at a butt, I will think of God. And excreting.

I hope you gave him the entire contents of your wallet for enlightening us all. Think how much more of your life you will have back, now that you no longer have to be distracted by looking at the butt.

"It is not there for us to look at." Priceless...
What, women can't appreciate a tight, excreting butt, too?
That is one of the greatest crazy guy on the subway stories ever. You just can't do better than god and butts. That's as perfect as peanut butter and jelly.
thank you, sir!
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