To get to Long Island from the Upper West Side, I take a subway and the Long Island Railroad. Usually during the week the subway ride is quick and non memorable. Normally I wouldn’t have gotten on the subway at 5PM on a weekday; my life is planned to avoid subway rush hours. Life’s much more pleasant that way. For a New Yorker I have an easy life and I know and appreciate that.
I would love amenities; amenities you think are neccessities: space for a dishwasher, washer dryer, space itself, and a deck or some land. I really want a triplex townhouse condo on the beach in Santa Monica, but I will settle for the above. And I live in a “big deal” building–both the Times and New York Magazine called us that. My apartment faces due East and North. I get incredible light. From the bedroom I can see eight blocks north, and the courtyard. From my living room I see the top of brownstones to the large building on the next Avenue, across the Avenue to an almost impressionistic view of Broadway.
Mostly I see the sky, and that is worth everything to me. It brings the outside in and makes me feel that I’m not living in a cramped city. Of course I would have preferred the river view, but I was being practical eight years ago last Saturday when I closed on this apartment. My apartment had been gut renovated in the early 90’s, has a granite entry hall/kitchenette and huge marble master bath. I knew people who paid more money for apartments that weren’t in triple mint condition or in the perfect location. Across from the river and a park, and twoto three blocks from everything. From tranquility to action in two minutes; it’s a New Yorker’s wet dream.
Broadway and 72nd Street wasn’t crowded at five today; nor was the subway. I was wearing a denim pencil skirt, white linen shirt, denim jacket, black fishnet stockings in a really funky weave and gray Merrel suede loafers, with my rimless sunglasses that are out of style on the West Coast–I have now vintage Gucci for when I feel like looking sophisiticated; and I don’t feel that way often.
The express came almost immediately and I sat down. Soon, very soon, I noticed that I was the only absolutely has to be Caucasion in the car. It’s happened before and has never made me feel uncmfortable.
Two Black men in cheap but okay suits were sitting across from me. They were talking loudly to a man, one subway door away from my seat. I couldn’t understand why he hadn’t sat next to them. They were instant headache loud.
“White people. They think all we want is white people food. Ham and cheese.”
Okay I had no idea what they were talking about.
“Mr. Burns.” Stop to belly laugh. I had the feeling that they had named somebody for Homer Simpson’s Mr. Burns.
“Cookies and milk. Milk and cookies….” Repeated about six times.
“They think Black people want…” Gasp for air as they laughed.
“Milk and cookies.” More laughter. Okay they sounded stoned. Really didn’t care but wish I had a newspaper or anything to bury my face in and pretend to read.
They looked at me and the Black woman next to me who was dressed in a black silk suit. She was pretending to read as her face contorted into the paper.
“West coast; east coast.” More from the gut laughter. As they pointed to the subway map after pointing to the woman and me, I think that they meant I looked Upper West Side and she looked Upper East Side as we did.
They continued talking about about stupid White people and pointed to my Merrel loafers.
“White people’s shoes.” As I have the same loafers in blue and red, plus Merrel’s black and brown leather loafers, I looked down to see if I had accidentally put a blue one on. I have never worn shoes from two different pairs but there’s always a first time.
Talked some more. “Yabba dabba do.” In a weird, not admiring the original but making fun of it as white person’s thing. Stopped to belly laugh.
The train finally reached Penn Station at 34th Street; as it was an express the only other stop was at 42nd Street; between those two stops I learnedd that they were transferring at Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn to the R or the M.
I got up. More than anything in the world I wanted to walk up to them and say:
“Look hate white people; hate me. I don’t care; but next time you say anything about Fred Flinstone or even say ‘yabba dabba do,’ you die.”
But I didn’t even look back at them as I walked out of the train.
While I wanted to end with that line I feel obligated to say that this was a very unusual experience; I wouldn’t be writing about it if it weren’t. They were rude; people of all races can be. When I told this story to my sister, brother in law and niece she asked why people hate Blacks as we’re all made of the same DNA and genes. She’s a Milenium Kid. They amaze me with their total lack of prejudice, judgement, and their incredible–I would say tolerance, but that really means they’re just tolerating . I’m convinced that these kids will change the world.
The only parts I took personally were the characterization of my shoes as “white peoples shoes.” I like to feel cooler than that, and anybody of any race will suffer if they make fun of Fred Flinstone. When I was a child, my father forced the whole family to watch it, and I grew rather attached to Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty, Pebbles and Bam Bam. Damn I didn’t even have to think to come up with their names.