Greenpoint image taken from William Sherman’s site.
New York is a city of transplants. A good third of the population — I’m guessing — makes a holiday pilgrimage home every year. So, come late December, the streets get quiet. The subways clear out. You can always find a table, or three, at the local bar.
Inevitably fifteen other people forgot to buy vanilla extract, and they’re all converging in the spice aisle when you make that last-minute run to the grocery store. Still, the lines — and tempers — pale in comparison to my memories of Miami Christmastimes. (I’ll never forget my stint at the Kendall J. Byron’s, where I beheld one customer slamming her cart into another’s ass to prevent her from taking the last pair of reindeer panties.)
Mr. Maud and I have a low-key weekend planned. We’ll throw ribbons around for the cats on Christmas morning, get jolly with pie and eggnog in the afternoon, and waddle out to see a movie with friends later on.
Things have been winding down this week, and I was looking forward to a quiet ride in to work on the 7 this morning, but the train was crowded and grim when I got on. Everyone seemed to be wincing. I squeezed into a seat between a guy doing Sudoku and a woman reading A Million Little Pieces, and I pulled out my own book.
The train lurched forward. The fellow leaning against the car’s central pole piped up. “All of you reading,” he said, “reading that trash, when the Bible is the only book you need. When the Bible is the Word of the Lord, and the tribulation is upon us.”
I slouched closer to my book and whispered a few curses.
“What are you complaining about?” said Sudoku man. “You just got on.”
Just then the train stalled. Under the river. “We are being held momentarily by the train’s dispatcher,” the conductor said. “Please be patient.”
“Repent,” yelled pole man, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And do not think you can can repent in the churches. They are already in judgment.”
Sudoku man filled in a number. “Of course they are,” he said. “Of course you’re the only one who can save us.” He spoke softly, though. I doubt anybody but me could hear him.
We stayed still underground for ten minutes as pole man ranted. He carried on preaching all the way to 5th Avenue, where he disembarked and headed for the stairwell.
“Off to spread the joy,” said Sudoku man.
“Yeah, right. Happy holidays, New York,” I said.