Monday, October 29, 2007

The New York Times is Too Big

The first weekend after Brooke and I moved into the new apartment, I walked out our front door to smell the crisp suburban air and there on the doorstep in front of me was a blue bag. Inside the blue bag was a copy of the Saturday New York Times (cover price like $50). At first I thought that a subscription to the Times came with all apartments in Park Slope. You know, as an incentive. Like when you order one Power Juicer you get a handy vegetable slicer absolutely free.

When I took it out of the bag though I realized that it actually belonged to the women who lived in the apartment before us. She must have forgotten to transfer her subscription when she moved. For a second I thought perhaps I should notify her. But then I started flipping through the paper and, holy shit, have you ever gotten one of these? There’s like 15 different sections! It’s a veritable cumshot of information. I sat down on the edge of the couch and made a decision right then and there: I would read the entire thing, and I would be smart.

Flash forward to this morning. I am on the subway reading the Arts & Leisure section from October 14th. It’s like trying to read a novel every week, except the novel is full of boring characters and all sorts of things you know nothing about. (What’s all this about Iran? I thought it was spelled “Iraq”?) Still, I feel smarter when reading it. People look at me differently, like I know things – things that happened two weeks ago.

The other problem is the size of the newspaper. It is huge. Like the size of a movie poster. Back before I it turned up on my doorstep like an unloved baby, I used to watch people try to read The Times on the subway. I hated them, what with their flailing arms and impossible creases. So when I became one of those assholes, I vowed to do it differently. I remembered from high school how a teacher once taught us the proper way to read The Times. (This was after he taught us how to drink tea but before he taught us how to cope with a life of bitter loneliness.) He showed us how to fold the paper so that you were always reading a small rectangle of information. He said it was made to work this way. (FACT: It’s not.) But it worked well enough where I wasn’t constantly hitting people in the face just trying to turn the page.

I keep the paper neatly folded in my bag so it is already inconspicuous and undouchbaggy as soon as I take it out. This morning was no different than the others. I get on the train, move in towards the middle and stand holding a bar above my head with a woman sitting down directly in front of me. Like always, I reach into my messenger bag and pull out the paper. As I unfurl it, though, I notice something out of the corner of my eye. It appears to be a feather gently floating down from the paper’s crease. Only it isn’t a feather. It is a large piece of lint. And it lands squarely on the shoulder of the woman sitting in front of me.

I immediately panic. The woman, who is nondescript in every way except that she is not white, not skinny, terrifying and she likely sings in a soul choir though her songs aren’t for me, doesn’t notice. It sits there, perched like a cotton parrot staring back at me, this gross piece of lint – gross on the one hand because what was it doing in there in the first place? It’s a messenger bag, not a dryer. Gross on the other hand because it is like a gross lint hand now gripping this stranger’s shoulder.

This was, in every way, exactly what I was afraid of when I started reading the Times. I am now, with the expelling of one small piece of tufted cotton, THAT guy. The guy that says, "I'LL PUT MY LINT WHEREVER I WANT TO PUT MY LINT. I READ THE NEW YORK TIMES."

I look at the woman sitting next to her. She stares back at me, eyes wide. We both look at the lint, then back at one another. She motions with her face as if to say, “You have to pick it off.”

“No, you,” I shoot back.

“Why would I? You put it there.”

“But I can’t touch her out of nowhere. I’m a guy. She might think I’m trying to rape her.”

“On a crowded subway train? Really? That’s what she’ll think?”

“I heard a story once about a woman who was stabbed in broad daylight on the 6 train.”

“What stop?”

Cypress Avenue, I think.”

“Was she white?”

“Yeah, why?”

“What was a white girl doing on Cypress Avenue?”

“Whoa, that’s a little racist, don’t you think?”

“I’m not the one throwing lint on black people.”

She has me there. But I cannot bring myself to do it. It’s like going up to a girl in a bar – the longer I wait, the more awkward it gets to pick lint off her shoulder. Running through the scenario in my head, there is not one way this plays out that doesn’t end with me dying. (In one scenario, just as I pick off the lint, the whole world blows up.)

Finally, after two long minutes of sweaty tension, wondering if the lint would hold, if the woman would notice, if the other woman would rat me out, we arrive at the Atlantic Avenue station and the lint-woman gets up and exits the train, the furry animal clinging to her shoulder pad. I breathe a sigh of relief, avoiding the gaze of the other woman by returning to my newspaper. There I read an article about http://isawyournanny.blogspot.com, a website devoted to catching nannies in the act of bad care giving. I’m starting to think that being smart isn’t worth it.

20 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

Awesome and hysterical all at once. You are my new favorite blogger.

October 29, 2007 at 3:35:00 PM EDT  
Blogger fort knocks said...

Full of shit, but not shitty in the least.

Fantastic self-defecating humor.

October 29, 2007 at 3:55:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Rock It said...

i found you through a loss of another blog...and i love your blog, even better than the other blog. your truly funny.

i also find the fact that you share the blog with your girlfriend "brooke" quite endearing.

btw...i don't think it was your obligation to take the lint of that lady...even though you put it there...but you could have told her. oh and your teacher sounds pretty cool, in a wierd way.

October 29, 2007 at 3:56:00 PM EDT  
Blogger R.E.H. said...

Funny as hell... I laughed hard at the assumption she would think you wanted to rape her if you tried to remove the lint.

You could have just gone; "Excuse me... but there's something on your shoulder, ma'm".

Then... of course... you wouldn't have had a story to tell :)

October 29, 2007 at 5:07:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Faith said...

You are so, soooo funny. GodDAMMIT, man!

October 29, 2007 at 5:37:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Black people are scary? You do come across as racist in this post.

October 29, 2007 at 6:35:00 PM EDT  
Blogger SAILOR MOON said...

youre not racist... and you are funny!

October 29, 2007 at 6:55:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Susiee Q said...

Guy, you crack me up! I am normally a "lurker", but just had to give you a high five on this post. Hilar!

October 29, 2007 at 7:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger A Lil' Irish Lass said...

I've been reading your blog for a few weeks and it is rapidly moving to the very top of my list.

This post was a delight. I too felt that reading the weekend New York Times would give me an air of brilliance - because, deep down (actually, right there on the surface), I value the opinions of anonymous subway riders whom I encounter for eight minutes and will very likely never see again. It's a character flaw. I gave up one morning, however, when my beige blazer looked like I had rolled around in a mine shaft.

The need to validate myself in the eyes of total strangers did not go away, however, so I tried The New Yorker - the height of Manhattan douchebaggery. Unable to finish an issue in under a month and a half (weekly my ASS), I was left feeling guilty and stupid. It was like Catholic school all over again, only without the drugs and oral sex in the bathroom.

Now I just read Cosmo and don't give a shit what people think of me. I may not be abreast of the situation in Iran, but I can definitely tell if your man is into you.

October 29, 2007 at 9:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Airam said...

Wow that was one hell of a conversation you had with just your facial expressions!

October 30, 2007 at 1:13:00 AM EDT  
Blogger kismetic said...

I was going to say something along the lines of, "something is really off about this entry, it's funny but it just doesn't seem very Dan," and then I realized that it is about you reading a newspaper. So that's probably what that is all about.

October 30, 2007 at 9:11:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Kat said...

had me laughing out loud :)

October 30, 2007 at 3:52:00 PM EDT  
Blogger claire said...

you and that other lady must have very expressive eyes...

October 30, 2007 at 5:03:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jane Doe said...

I came across your blog following your reference to my site...and found my new favorite blog. I haven't read anything this funny in a long time!

October 31, 2007 at 10:07:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jenni said...

Lint is disgusting. It's like the filmy gritty mass that was once every sock that has ever dissapeared in the dryer. Lint is what becomes of socks after they are sent to sock hell.

I can't even touch the stuff...GAH...Nails on a chalkboard.

October 31, 2007 at 4:24:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Arjewtino said...

You have better conversations through subtle facial gestures than I do with people in real life.

November 1, 2007 at 6:17:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Anna said...

Haha, the lint thing sounds like something that would happen to David Sedaris. I loved the eye conversation.

November 2, 2007 at 2:41:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are our new hero! Love to read your blog... it adds to humour to our boring life!

November 5, 2007 at 10:31:00 PM EST  
Anonymous ezie said...

question:

1: what's a lint? (No, I'm not Paris Hilton)

2: your blog can actually kill (well, this is not a question, but having the same level IQ as Paris Hilton makes it okay for me...oh, okay, okay...I'll rephrase)

[Rephrased]
2: Your blog can actually kill? (I almost choked..errm, is that the the correct spelling?... while reading the incident on the train. The African American lady is my biggest hero, after Paris Hilton before she went to jail).

That's it.

p/s: Question: Who's funnier - Brooke or Dan? ...and... Who's darker - the African American lady or the lint?

December 3, 2007 at 6:29:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love when you post arguments you've had with yourself. Especially when they end with phrases like “I’m not the one throwing lint on black people.”

December 10, 2007 at 12:10:00 PM EST  

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