Horrors of the Midnight Express

I was on the 12:06 out of Gotham Saturday night, following my annual rugby club awards dinner bacchanalia.

Much of the train was, it being Saturday, midnight, holidays, etc., bombed.

Including the four guys taking up a pair of five seaters near the door.

They were, let’s face it, mooks. Baseball hats on sideways. Sweats and t-shirts for a night in the big city. Full-throated F-bombs dropping like hailstones.

The train is packed. I’m sitting on a bed of broken pretzel rods. The lady next to me commiserates about the sorry state of the world when the F-bombs fly unchecked in a public setting. I assured her they’d be passed out by 125th Street.

I was wrong.

Most of the F-bombs center around an unseen friend named Rich, who disappeared as they were apparently about to board the train. One keeps moaning about geting F-ing arrested for it, though he clearly was not held for long–seeing how he was on the train and all.

Just before departure, two trashy blond women got on board. They had 24 ounce bottles of Corona, because 24 more ounces of beer is precisely what you need when you’re on your way home after a night of drinking. (Full disclosure: I’ve done it 63 times.)

The foul mouthed boys eyed the women. More like, they groped the women with their eyes.

One of the women poured a little fuel on the fire.

“Does anyone have an opener for this?” she said, hoisting the Corona bomber skyward like she’d just won the thing.

At first no one said anything. I actually spoke up, volunteering to open the giant bottle of lame lager with my Poland Spring bottle, because people still are impressed by that sort of thing.

Suddenly one of the mooks jumps up, his smartphone in hand.

I start to wonder if there’s a bottle opening app on the new iPhone. There sort of is: an opener shoots out of the top of the phone like a switchblade.

Pretty cool, I have to admit.

The mooks are adamant about parlaying this favor into something meaningful.

“Now you owe us a taste,” said one.

The blond woman walks over, contemplates the foul mook’s foul maw on her beloved bomber, then decides against it.

“Eww, no,” she says.

The two women, who it turns out are sisters, flirt with the guys. Someone asks someone how old the other one is.

“I’m 22, and my sister is 26,” says one of the coquettes. “Doesn’t she look awesome?”

She asks how old the boys are. A litany of 18s and 19s and 20s come back.

The awkwardness hangs in the air.

The women bid them adieu and head to another car. The boys stare, unable to conjure them back. The conversation goes back to F-ing Rich and his F-ing disappearance, with a half dozen phone calls to F-ing Rich’s F-ing cellphone.

I read through the Daily News, a back cover article composed of unnamed sources saying Robinson Cano is leaving the Yankees. I wonder when the Daily News turned into a lamer version of the Post, and wish I’d saved some of the day’s Times–and brought my iPod.

By White Plains, the train has mercifully thinned out. The mooks are still on full volume, talking of doing unsavory things to both their disappeared mate Rich, and various women. I head for another car.

There’s more drama the next car over. Some 30-something doofus is on foot, a 24 ounce Coors Light in hand. (How, pray tell, are people getting so drunk on Coors Light and Corona?) He’s addressing a not very New York-y foursome across the aisle, referring to himself as “Chef,” and simply blathering on drunkenly, to one woman in particular, about a whole bunch of nothing. The conductor addresses a man sleeping across a three-seater behind the foursome.

“If you don’t show me your ticket, I will alert the police!” he says.

The drunken man cannot even sit up.

“Chef” finally notices the foursome has tuned out his boozy soliloquy.  He announces he’s heading to the bathroom, and leaves the car. The foursome mocks him. One of the women in the group turns her attention to the drunk guy passed out behind her.

“He shit his pants! He shit his pants!” she keeps saying.

We are in between Valhalla and Hawthorne. She addresses the passed out guy again, telling him he does not want to sleep through his stop. (I consider mentioning the term for that, but really am done interacting with people for the night…or so I thought.)

“Where are you going? Where are you going?” she hectors the boozy lout.

It works.

“Hwwwthrrrnnne,” he slurs. He’s alive!

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are arriving in Hawthorne,” goes the PA system.

“Get up!” says the lady. “It’s your stop!”

It’s gonna be a race to the door. A slow, stumbling, staggering, stammering race.

I walk over to the guy, who has sat up.

“I’ll get you on the platform,” I say.

I help him to his feet. I help him over the gap, just as I’d done for Little G when he, Little Miss C and The Missus accompanied me to the city 10 hours before, and we were boots on the ground in Hawthorne.

I have my arm around the wasted guy’s shoulders. I think of the Louis CK bit from his SNL monologue, about helping an old lady who has fallen in front of him in the airport.

“I thought I was helping an old lady,” Louie says. “Now I have an old lady. This is now my old lady…that I have…in my life.”

Indeed, I own a drunken 20 year old numbskull.

Mercifully, not for long.

We take three painstaking steps on the platform.

“Rich!!!!!!!!!” comes the yelling from behind.

The foul-mouthed mooks! Reunited with their long lost pal!

We all live in Hawthorne! Awesome!

They catch up and grab F-ing Rich as I slip into the night unnoticed.

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