to ride a bike...
Late last night, on my way home from a narrative spoken-word competition known as a Moth Slam, it seemed as if there were way more street crazies (and subway crazies) than usual. The last of many to approach me was a reasonably drunk-seeming, nearly toothless, oddly staring and surprisingly young-for-her- repulsiveness white woman. Apparently, she wanted to hang out.
She was walking about 15 paces behind me along West 44th Street from the subway exit heading toward 9th avenue, and kept calling after me, "Hey mister!? Hey honey!? Hey sugar!? Hello sir!? Hey sweetheart!? Hey mister?! Etc. Etc. Etc." Then she stopped. I walked in relative quiet for a while, until she started again, as if she were noticing me for the first time. So I stopped, turned around and was like "May I help you, crazy lady?" She asked: "Do you have the time?" which is an innocent enough question unless it's short for: "Do you have the time to get a little crazy with me in that alley behind the taco joint?"
"It's a quarter to two," I said.
She caught up, and then said all sorts of nice things about me. I ignored her and kept walking. She kept pace and asked where I was going. "Home," I said. This didn't register. She drunkenly persisted. I told her that I wasn't interested in her company, that she should leave me alone, but that she should have a good night and take care of herself. Clearly, I was being too polite. And equally clearly, she had never read "He's Just Not That Into You."
So when she actually reached out and touched me, affectionately/creepily grabbing my arm, I thought, "okay, I guess I have to make her leave" so I decided to use a small measure of the Jedi powers I keep under wraps.
I stopped walking and just looked at her with a firm little mental "push." A look of mild fear came across her face and she immediately let go of my arm. She backed away slowly, muttering "okay, okay, I'm gonna go now," then turned and disappeared into the Hell's Kitchen night.
I kinda felt bad for doing that to her, but I kept it as gentle as I could. As I continued on my way home, I thought, "Boy... they are really out in force tonight! Where are they all coming from?"
Then I realized there was nothing different about the city, or the number of crazoids, or the extent to which they were drawn to nice-guy me (to feed!), but rather that this was the first time in a long time that I was coming home late at night on foot. (And not listening to an iPod through big obvious headphones.)
Riding a bike circumvents all unwanted interactions with New York's insane class. All these months riding, I'd had no idea what a pleasant bonus I was receiving.