Today I saw a grown man in the subway with two straws coming out of his ears, sticking straight out of either side of his head.
To look at him, he didn’t seem a total lunatic. Besides the protruding plastic straws, everything else was relatively normal about him. (I’ve come to use the term “normal” in the loosest sense of the word since moving here. I typically wouldn’t qualify his bugged-out crack-eyes and tiny thread of drool on either side of his mouth as “normal,” but my discernment of normality has obviously been skewed– possibly even obliterated.) Three weeks ago, this would have alarmed me to the point where I’d overtly display signs of obvious distress. But 23 days in New York City has numbed my acknowledgment of blatantly high levels of lunacy, to the extent that I now have to consciously work to process instances of danger and/or absolute insanity.
So while I didn’t immediately dart down to the next stop, as far away from this character as humanly possible, I did, however, sense that I should probably distance myself a little – at least as far as the next train car. I’d already been held captive on a stuffy train with a man who was homeless and hungry, and I had reaped the dire consequences of that. I ventured to say the Straw Man was most likely homeless, and I also assumed he would most likely be more than happy to accept a hot dog or two. So, I could only imagine the precarious antics that would arise from adding ear straws into this already volatile equation; I felt it more than safe to assume this wouldn’t amount to a pleasurable experience for any naïve soul sharing a train with this man.
So, being the savvy New Yorker that I am (albeit delusional, after that self description), I nonchalantly strolled a safe ten feet up the platform, flashing my gaze back at him occasionally and finding myself wondering exactly how far in he had had to wedge these straws in order to secure them during the sporadic whole-body gyrations he was engaging in. (I forgot to mention that part, I suppose.)
Like the passengers present for the homeless, hungry, hair man debacle (refer to past entry for details) two weeks prior to this, these civilians also expressed such indifference that I had to double check the status of the straws to reaffirm their very-real presence and discount the fear that I’d fabricated their existence in my head in order to fulfill my never-ending quest for spotting the Crazies. (I’m afraid it has developed into somewhat of a hobby- an inexpensive but dangerous hobby. I’m all about the cheap thrills.)
Then, it finally occurred to me that these people were just exceedingly immune to any and all spectacles of this city—and quite inevitably so. Hell, I had only been here a few weeks and I’d already (involuntarily) let my guard down tenfold. And that got me thinking: Will I too become wholly apathetic toward any outlandish New York scenes, scenes I formerly thought needed both a small-yet-powerful concealed weapon and on-the-upwards of 2-4 years of counseling to overcome? Moreover, will I soon willingly board a train knowing a coked-out ex-con wearing a bib and selling cat hair is on it with me, and maybe even readily scoot over in my seat to make room for him next to me??
Only time will tell. And time moves fast in this city.
On a lighter note, here is what we do on the subway when we’re NOT evading maniacs:
And here we are at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, enjoying a screening of The Red Balloon (a strange silent film with a strange silent little boy, whom Nicole is strangely drawn to):