More thoughts on New York, since I don’t seem to have many thoughts on much else at the moment:
I now understand what undershirts are all about, and why when I used to think of NYC, I always visualized hairy men sticking their torsos out windows in wife-beaters. Yes, sweating is a fundamental aspect of living in NYC in the summer. There is no getting around it. I tried to ignore the issue for a good long while, pretending each time that I got up in the morning that today I would not sweat profusely into whatever set of clothes I was putting on. Then I would stand on the subway platform in the subterranean swampiness with beads of sweat rolling down into my pants and pretend that it would all just disappear once I stepped into the AC of the subway car. But I’m slowly coming to realize that I am not going to suddenly cease sweating. I am going to sweat no matter what I am wearing. I am going to sweat whether I sit in the apartment all day or if I venture out into the streets or if I am dressed up in a tie and going downtown for an interview.
Hence the intrinsic value of an undershirt. Undershirts exist in order to soak up the sweat puddling out of your pits and down your back and prevent the external world from viewing massive sweat stains on your shirt. This seems fairly self-evident, I suppose, but as someone who had never worn undershirts except the occasional wife beater when I tried to be cool, I just never really understood what they were for.
Now I understand. I’ve purchased my discounted packs of slightly irregular white t-shirts and I now wear them frequently, allowing them to wick away the sweat from my self-consciousness.
People here are weird, but there’s so many people, and so many weird people, that no one really seems to notice anything strange, except when someone pulls out a gun or gets into a fight. I can’t quite define this weirdness yet, but it has definitely been noted by my awareness; it’s on my radar, and I’m silently taking notes on the street and on the subway.
Perhaps the weirdness is linked to the fact of the sheer density of NYC. There is no avoiding people here. They are standing in your way on the street, they are staring you down on the subway, they are running you down in taxis in the crosswalks, they are biking through pedestrians, they are hanging off scaffolding and running in packs through Central Park and flocking to free concerts and cramming into museums. They don’t necessarily speak your language and they don’t necessarily live here. It’s just people, people, people. So there’s almost a sense here that individuals don’t really have distinct identities. We mesh and merge into each other, sometimes lost to ourselves. We have to shout, push, fight our way back into self-awareness.
Speaking of fighting, I almost got into my first all-time fistacuffs on the subway several weeks ago. My woman and I had gone to the MOMA to view a weird film called Irma Vep, which is essentially a film about a director obsessed with this Hong Kong actress, and the actual director of this film also apparently wanted her himself, as he then married her after the film was made. Then they divorced, signing the divorce papers four years later during another film they made together. Anyway, so you know how after you see a really weird film you’re just in a totally weird state of mind? It was fairly late at night and we got onto the D train going to the Boogie Down since it runs express, then we transfer to the A which takes us (the long haul) home. The train car was full. After a stop, some seats opened up and my girlfriend went up to claim them. A big guy sitting there told her that he was holding it for his wife, in a rude kind of way, and my girlfriend snapped back something sassy back at him as she walked away. She later claimed that this sudden impulse to be a smart-ass was due to her strange state of mind due to the weird artsy film. He then raised his voice and said something in reply, and she again sassed back at him while walking away. He then turned around and started shouting “Fuck you, you fucking bitch!” and other such sentiments. At this point, I’m not going to just stand there and allow someone to call my girlfriend a bitch in front of a whole train car, which was avidly watching the unfolding scene, so I said, “Fuck you, motherfucker. Shut the fuck up” and other such sentiments. The big guy gets up and walks over to me and gets in my face, saying things like, “What are you going to do about it?” To which I replied, “And what are you going to do about it?” Everyone on the train perked up, eagerly awaiting somebody to throw down. It was about to happen. I was about to get in my first fight i.e. get my ass whooped by a big old dude on the subway train.
Which by the way, getting into a confrontation while locked into a car on the subway late at night is probably about the worst spot to be. There’s no one who is going to help you there. There’s no running. You’re cell phone don’t work. There’s no police. This guy could have taken both me and my girlfriend on, realistically speaking, as he was probably about 50 pounds heavier than me. I do have some rusty ninja skills, but as they haven’t been tested out lately, I wouldn’t want to rely on them. Fortunately at this point, his wife, wherever she had been, walked onto the train and came up to her husband and asked him what the hell was going on, and then led him back to his seat as he cursed us out repeatedly.
The lesson? Don’t sass anyone on the train, even if you’ve just watched a weird artsy film.
In other news, the mosquito season has abruptly ended. I’m not quite sure when it occurred, but I’ve noticed that in place of mosquitos, now the “water-bugs” i.e. cockroaches are now in high tide, scurrying about on the sidewalks, over countertops, and in your cereal. I’ve also been witness to a giant primordial dragonfly that was flapping about haplessly on its back on the sidewalk, with two cops standing and watching it. I walked up to it and let it latch onto my index finger, which it then proceeded to attempt to bite. I have to say, that was another first for me. I have never been bitten by a giant dragonfly ever before. It then flew off right as the cops excitedly told me to take a picture of it on my finger.