Sunday, January 01, 2006

Last Day

Yesterday was a strange day. I was on the subway and a man got on with a dog. Now, you have to understand, people just don't bring dogs on the subway, unless they are 1) seeing eye dogs or 2) little dogs in those vented carrier bags. This guy walked on with his medium-sized dog on a leash, and started prancing down the aisle with him. I don't think I've seen that in 10 years, so I'm guessing they usually are pretty strict about enforcing the no dogs rule. (In this town, anywhere you can get away with having your dog with you, people will.)

At the next stop, a man got on smoking a cigarette. I was on my way out of the car, so just briefly smelled it, but turned as the door was closing and saw him standing there, cigarette in hand. Cigarettes on the subway are just as rare as dogs - people just don't do it any more, at least not on a Saturday afternoon.

I thought I might have wandered into an Improv Everywhere mission. (One of their famous events, repeated each January, involves a group of people getting on a subway train with no pants on. At each stop, they fill the train. Then, finally, someone gets on with a bag of their discarded pants and asks, "Anyone want to buy some pants?")

As I walked up the street, I looked up and saw a man standing on a rooftop talking on a phone. Then, a block later, another man standing on his rooftop. Maybe there was a full moon?

I started thinking that if I filmed these little snippets and had them in a movie, it would set the mood that something odd was going to happen to me, that all of these weird moments were leading up to something bizarre.

And, then, I almost got hit by a car.

Well, a few hours later, after I'd seen a movie and gotten back on the subway to go home. The F train went out of service at West 4th Street, so I got on an A train into Brooklyn and got out at Jay Street to walk home. (One stop away, but if there is no F, it's as close as I can get.) It was snowing big fat wet flakes, and the grown was slippery wet. I checked the bus schedule but had just missed one. So I walked. At the corner of Smith & Atlantic, I had the light, so started into the crosswalk. A car started turning from Smith Street into my lane, but I knew he'd see me and slow down while I passed. You just don't stop when you're crossing because another car would come, and another, and you'd never get across. So I kept steadily walking, but he didn't stop. He sped toward me, directly at me, and I stepped quickly backwards and swore and then he was stopped, maybe a foot from me (though it felt like 4 inches) and I just stood there for a second, dumb. Then I carefully walked in front of him and he rolled down his window and said, "Sorry, I didn't see you."

When I got to the other corner my legs were shaking. People on the other side of the street looked at me, like "Wow, are you okay?" and I just kept walking home.

If this were a film, the image would have frozen just when the car was barrelling toward me, and we would have had a long flashback to my life, the life that had brought me to that moment, all the while keeping the audience wondering if I am going to die right here, in the middle of Atlantic Avenue, on New Year's Eve.

I think I have seen that movie, or more than one like it.


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