On Proof that the Sun Sets Magnificently, Even Over New Jersey: A Story of (Sub)Urban Despair

01Jul08

In which The Gay Recluse contemplates life, on the subway.

Today on the subway — this, during the evening rush — we sat down next to a woman, perhaps 25 or so, with long, thin arms and straight blond hair.

We noticed because a few seconds later, she leaned over and yelled “Dad!” And it was really him, too, just half a car away! She waved at him and we moved over a few inches to make room on the bench so they could sit together. (It was a B-train.)

He was probably in his sixties, short with glasses, kind of pudgy, dressed in “slacks” and a shirt-sleeve dress shirt. On first glance, he looked like a sit-com dad, but one from the Archie-Bunker era.

After he sat down, we (pretending to read) could hear the daughter chirping away on the other side of us. She sounded so happy to see him, and it did seem like a remarkable coincidence, the way it always does when you run into someone in the city.

But then we looked over and noticed that he had already pulled out a book and opened the page, as if he were about to start reading. He kept running his thumb over the bookmark. It was a really shitty softcover — the kind of thing you can bargain down to a nickel at a garage sale — something even worse than Tom Clancy or John Grisham, though it had that kind of cover, silver with an embossed gun on it or something.

Then he told his daughter to be quiet! We really hated him then.

What kind of man, we wondered, couldn’t talk to his daughter for ten minutes on the train? Didn’t he want to know about her day? Or tell her about his? Suddenly these horrible people reeked of loneliness and dysfunction.

Except when we got off the train at 59th Street, we noticed that she was now reading, too. They both seemed engrossed in their books, and not upset at all.

And we couldn’t help but ask ourselves who we really hated, and why.



3 Responses to “On Proof that the Sun Sets Magnificently, Even Over New Jersey: A Story of (Sub)Urban Despair”

  1. 1 Alex G DeWitt

    I thought this was some civilization of ugly apartment complexes on a planet near Sirius–the Dog Star–binary star system of lore… But I guess New Jersey is just as otherworldly. Awesome photos!

  2. Thanks Alex–I think there are many who would not disagree with your awesome characterization! (Did I spell that correctly…?) Perhaps even some who live there…

  3. 3 Tim

    Just another day in Manhattan…


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