I ventured into the city Saturday night for a concert, fooling Little G into thinking it was an hour earlier (much harder these days, with daylight savings time and all), and headed out the door for the 7:53.
Downtown Hummerville was quieter than quiet. I’d forgotten the parts of the Times I’d meant to bring on the train, and picked up my pace so I’d have a minute to duck into Pop’s Deli and grab one.
Alas, Pop’s was out of the dailies.
“Saturday’s a big reading day in Hawthorne,” the cheery proprietor told me.
They had a pair of Irish papers, the Echo and the Voice, which seemed sort of fitting to read before going to see the Pogues. I picked the Voice, which had Jimmy Fallon on the cover. The guy was about to ring me up when he spied a Times, separated into its various sections, behind the counter. He pieced it together, folded the Sports back into its original order, and dealt me the rag for a buck fifty. I put Fallon back on the rack on my way out.
A minute before train time, I didn’t see a soul–not one soul–on the platform, which of course got me thinking there was no 7:53, which would pretty much ruin my whole evening’s plans–or force me to salvage them with an expensive cab to White Plains. But a moment later she came chugging from behind Gordo’s, lights blazing in the dark night. A few bodies emerged onto the platform from the foul-weather greenhouse.
In the rare event that I’m schlepping to the city for a Saturday night, I tend to grab a semi-private 1 3/4-seater. The amateurs on the trains on the weekend tend to think these seats are off-limits (seasoned commuters know much, much better), and the Saturday evening train is louder than the Union Square platform with both a 4 and and 6 pulling in at the same time.
Alas, the two 1 3/4-seaters I tried were locked in the upright position. I found a seat amongst the boozy proletariat and cracked open the Sam Adams I’d brought from home. As I’d expected, it spilled a bit, shaken up from the walk. I lamented spilling beer on my sleeve, then remembered I was going to a Pogues show and would be covered in spilled booze halfway through “Streams of Whiskey.”
The beloved 1 3/4-seaters were again locked up when I hit the 12:06 heading for home. I had a trio of guys in their early 20s near me, loud and sort of drunk and kind of funny. The guy facing me a few rows away looked like he’d perhaps been at the Pogues show at Roseland too–Irish tweed cap pulled low over an Irish-American mug, Doc Martens, tattoos all over his neck (both in the shape of names in cursive and a pair of hands merged in prayer) and tats on both sets of knuckles spelling HOPE and LOVE–not unlike the cover of the Pogues album that shows PEACE and LOVE on a boxer’s knuckles.
There was another trio of young guys a few rows past them in a five-seater. Those guys were drunk as well and two of them were engaged in a slap fight, which prompted the punks near me to start mocking them. The punks had surmised that the slappers were preppy college kids and started lobbing the likes of “Dave Matthews Band!” and “Lacrosse!” and other preppy trappings their way, trying to egg them on. The preps, meanwhile, kept slapping each other.
I got up to use the bathroom and got a look at the rest of the punks. They weren’t the slightest bit thuggish, which surprised me that they were needling some other guys toward fisticuffs. I shut off my iPod and listened to their conversation. Turns out they were in a band, and were making up funny and melodic rhymes for the various station stops on the schedule.
Still, they kept egging on the preps, who’d ceased their slap fight around Fordham. The slappers didn’t take the bait. All taunting and slapping would stop momentarily when a young woman would happen down the aisle to use the bathroom, and both parties would try every single trick they knew to get the woman to stop and chat. At the risk of sounding like a schoolmarm, I can’t get over what the young chickies were wearing, both on the train in and the train home. Where were these slags when I was 21?
The rest of the ride was mostly uneventful. The punks eventually tired of taunting the preps, who became pre-occupied with a young woman in a dress cut mid-thigh who actually stopped to talk to them.
Around Valhalla, an intense smell of pot wafted through the train. Everyone in the car’s heads swiveled about in search of the smoking gun, so to speak, but no culprit was forthcoming.
Finally, the kid in the tweed cap said, “That’s not pot. That’s a real skunk.”
Mercifully, the 12:06 ambled into Hummerville moments later.