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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sometimes it's Just Polite to Swallow

People are bat-shit.

Every once in a while I get in the mind set of a jaded New Yorker and I assume that I can't be rattled. I can't be amazed by human behavior anymore. And then, I'm horrifically shaken back to this crazy world where people are maniacs and do things that should only exist in an SNL skit.

Case in Point: Post shopping tour on Friday I thought I'd stop by the Greenmarket and the Whole Foods - pick up some fresh produce and some tofu for the weekend. The nuts that wander these places are enough to make you giggle a bit. There's the emaciated models holding various bags of lettuce and types of Honest Tea, the smelly hippies that haven't heard the news that women shave their armpits these days and, my personal fave, the organic-crazed mommies that feel entitled to shove people out of the way with their strollers simply because they procreated...

But the real crazy came on the subway platform.

I was starving and decided to munch on some of my (controversial among my friends) veggie pepperoni slices to tide me over. A stalky, stooping, yet fairly well dressed man walked up to the edge and stood to wait for the train beside me. I saw him notice my snack and sort of question it with his brow. In no mood to chat, I adjusted my headphones with exaggeration (It's the polite way of saying "don't talk to me, fool"). He did not get the hint.

He starts, very obviously, pointing at my unusual food choice. I remove my ear buds and say with a hint of bitchy, "Excuse me?" Now, I know what he said was in some form of English, but I have no idea what the exact words were. I guessed that he said something along the lines of "what is that?" So I answered, "Vegetarian Pepperoni. It's for vegetarians." "nmnbmnhmf," he replied in his language. "Vegetarian. No meat. For people that don't like meat." I said upping the bitch factor. AND THEN it was like it happened in rapid speed, but I was watching it in slow motion. The dude clearly said, "I wanna try" ...and put his grubby, fat fingers INTO the bag of veggie pepperonis!! My bag! Of pepperonis! I froze. What's a girl to do? He dug his greedy fingers around trying to grab ahold of those suckers for a solid few seconds, and then shoved three or four into his waiting mouth, tucking the ends in with his fingers making it appear as if the pepperonis were trying to escape.

I was in shock. This happens??!! People do this?! I stood there staring at my poor, violated bag of fake meat. At that point, what do you do? I would have just offered him the whole thing but, to be honest, he didn't seem to like them. I sort of got that impression when he half yacked them out onto the train tracks. Hmm. After all that he didn't even ingest the damn things.

I threw out the bag. I was hungry, but not that hungry.

...In other news, I had a great callback this weekend with very sane people, and I had my first off book rehearsal for the upcoming One Act Festival. My character really comes together for me when I get off book. I think I'm so in my body from all my years of dance that when I free up my physicality I'm really able to play around. Needless to say, the rehearsal went well and (seeing as how my lines were a bit less than perfect) it will only get better!

More rehearsal and a BIG audition tomorrow. I'm sure I'll have lots to say about that.

Until then, stay classy, NY.

5 comments:

  1. First of all break legs later. And hooray for off bookedness. I'm trying for this fringe show but it there is just so much on the page.

    Anyway. People do that?!?! What? How is that an ok thing to do? Ever? I think you made the right choice. I wouldn't have continued to eat. And I wouldn't have offered the bag to him I would have thrown it away with him watching. The fool.

    People have no sense of...humanity? They feel entitled to....something? I was walking to the park one day carrying quarter staffs and this woman flagged me down. Wouldn't let me pass her on the side walk so she could inquire what the big poles were. So I have to awkwardly balance these staffs, take out my earbuds and mimic you, excuse me? She wouldn't stop bothering me about them. Not quite the same as eating my food, but clearly I'm in a hurry and these aren't the easiest things to carry.

    I hate people.

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  2. How did you not reach out and smack that guy? You have better self control than I do. EW.

    PS... I hate that I'm going to annoy you in the future... "organic-crazed mommies that feel entitled to shove people out of the way with their strollers simply because they procreated"
    HAHA Love it :)

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  3. While I am incredibly sorry that you had to go through such a horrific experience of gross awkwardness via Creeper McGrubbyhands, I welcome the laughter that ensued on my side of the screen (it is a groggy Monday, after all). What a ridiculous thing to do to someone! I hope you and your veggeronis have more peace together in the future. Cheers! :-D

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  4. While I've been especially responsive to, and appreciative of, your sassy, dark-exuberant Tales of the City -- those edgy slices of life that threaten to veer into uncharted territory -- this one has had me brooding. Furrowed-brow-type brooding. Your street-persona seems to be equal parts performer, sassy gal, punk, and working-class hero, and this writing has an exuberance and a righteous indignation about it that has always struck a chord here. But with this particular little anecdote, part of me has wanted to believe that it didn't happen, that your writerly side decided to try experimenting to see how much your readers had come to, you know, care about their flyer-wielding heroine. (Writers exercise creative license, as we all know.) But I sense that this is, like so many other moments, something that went down for realz. It's "echt". So, let me vent on a bit...

    Maybe it's that, having grown up in this town, I have a deep reservoir of disturbing memories involving the "street life" -- that diverse mass of individuals who seem to be just out there, looking to get into your life, into *your space*. Growing up in the Koch era, I remember hearing my adult relatives grimly discussing "deinstitutionalization". It was a veritable watchword. While this deinstitutionalization may have been a necessary and positive step in the long run (anyone remember Geraldo Rivera and Willowbrook?), there was enough dysfunction in the system that, by the early 80s, a fair number of folks who needed some *ahem* guidance and supervision, ended up swelling the ranks of the homeless, or holed up in SROs when they weren't roaming the streets under-medicated, over-medicated, or, simply, off their meds.

    My adventures with street life through the 80s and 90s were so many and varied . . . squeegee men who could get abusive, aggressive panhandlers who'd meet you mid-block and start walking with you, going from pushy to abusive in a few beats, and countless other varieties of characters looking to get in your face. Some had homes, and perhaps even trust funds, but were just as crazy and just as intent on *getting a reaction* from whoever caught their fancy. They wanted to pull you out of your comfort zone, and into their world, with their rules. They'd ruin your date, your night, leave you cursing, with adrenaline flowing and pulse racing. More than any money, it was this that gave them satisfaction -- to get a reaction, a rise out of the random citoyen.

    The city has changed since then, but it's still a densely populated laboratory where innumerable forms of pathological behavior ebb and flow. When you have millions thrown together, with the promise of anonymity, this is the result. It's why I have lived for years in Staten Island, which is a world apart.

    I guess the other element here that strikes a chord here is the setting: our lovely subway system. While inappropriate and invasive behavior is disturbing anywhere, on a subway platform it acquires a little more dark gravitas. When you have tracks, a third rail, and trains bearing down, anything untoward merits careful attention.

    From the moment you took out your earbuds to seek a clarification, you entered this character's world, if only for a little while. They seek a channel of communication -- if you open it, in their addled minds, you're now subject to their rules. My advice: don't admit the unknown into your space, especially in the subway. If it's not sardine-can crowded, nobody needs to be up in your business. Do not engage. Take evasive measures, all the while not making eye contact. My venting hereby ends.

    The auditions, the integrative studies -- I hope it's all nourishing and inspiring you. I saw that you'll be working with my ex-colleague the talented Ms. S. Lower soon, so break a leg!

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  5. Ilidas, I'm sorry to say that this story is not one of fiction. The truth hurts. While I SO appreciate your concern (very sweet of you to be worried about little old me roaming the streets of this town :) I want to make it clear that I am always very careful! I never felt threatened as far as real danger is concerned. And I certainly did back away from the tracks when the man approached me (I'm not new at this dealing with crazy peeps). I've had some very invasive and unfortunate run-ins with crazies in this city and this guys actions (while gross and unbelievable) don't even come close to some of the crap that, from experience as a female NY-er, I know we all deal with on a daily basis. I am and will forever be VERY careful about how I conduct myself. Thanks so much for your concern! ...and for reading!

    p.s. I'm glad to hear that Staten Island is more civilized and you have escaped your days of NYC crazies! But, oh the memories...

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