Today on the F train in Brooklyn I saw an interaction that was crammed full of all the pathos, craziness, beauty, and weirdness that makes New York the living circus that continues to surprise me after all these years.
I was on the platform at Jay Street waiting for the F train at about mid day. The platform was fairly crowded but not jammed. A nice looking middle aged lady who looked like she was dressed for work was standing facing the tracks with headphones on, and she was completely getting down, dancing like she was on stage at Madison Square Garden, singing backups for Beyonce. She was shaking and bumping and grinding, hand motions in full swing, totally grooving her ass off. Her ostentatious funk display was completely anachronistic with her generally reserved, business casual dressing style. I was mesmerized and watched her from a distance with a smile on my face.
The train took a long time coming, and soon I noticed a man shuffling down from the other end of the platform, mumbling to himself. I realized he was actually singing with a sort of raspy mumbling rap, and stumbling around slightly off balance, as if drunk but not altogether graceless. As he shuffled down the platform, his singing was peppered with commentary about every noteworthy detail he saw along the way. "Little dog got a sweater on, yeah baby… Trash can be overflowin', aw yeah…"
Eventually the man reached the end of the platform where the woman was continuing her all-out disco funkfest, he came to a stop, and gawked at her, thunderstruck. She continued her solo dance party, and the man, standing behind her, began to sway and groove and to narrate her moves in real-time. "Go on, on, go on girl! Don't stop till you get enough! Do that thing, do that thing, girl! Ow! Get it, girl!"
The F train screeched into the track, and everyone pushed out and pushed in. The lady dancer sat on a crowded bench, and continued her funky dancing, slightly subdued, in her seat. The swaying man came in and positioned himself directly opposite her. The following exchange transpired:
"Excuse me, ma'am."
"You are very attractive."
"Oh thank you."
"Would you like to have lunch with me?"
"No, I'm sorry."
"You are a wonderful dancer."
"I'd like to take you out."
"Sorry, it's never going to happen."
"Are you married?"
"I might as well be."
And with that, the mumbly man swayed to the other end of the train with a bemused smile on his lips, unoffended, and the dancing lady continued her dance in her seat.