Subway Love

Once, when I was living in New York, I fell in love on the subway. Actually, fell doesn’t even do it justice. I plummeted, I was struck with more force than the dinosaur-destroying asteroid, I was annihilated into love. On the subway.

Here’s what happened. I was riding the A-train from Washington Heights down to 34th, so I could go work with funky high-schoolers and sexually malfeasant managers hawking deep fried, over-priced chicken wings to the Korean populace. I sat in my stained white button down and over-worn tuxedo pants, reading my Cosmo, and on walks the Big Bang that launched my heart to doom the dinosaurs.

She had soft, olive skin and full lips that were permanently fixed in a slight pout; the kind of lips that in the movies always have their own montage eating every sort of exotic fruit imaginable. Her face was framed by outrageously curly black hair that she tried to tame under a forest green hat. You know, the formless hat that hippies and dancers wear all the time, with no bill or frame, it’s just a blob, a sexy blob, that kind of hat. I imagined she ran out of her house or apartment or studio or dorm in a hurry, carelessly cramming those luscious locks that no doubt smelled like mint cucumber or vanilla up into her formless hipster hat, without a thought to how easily her hair became weaponized, spearing the souls of men everywhere. Her hat matched her eyes, a deep forest green with flecks of gold that promised mysteries and wonder that I could never fathom. I could lose myself in that forest. On top of it all, she flashed this killer smile that filled the dingy subway car with light, making me momentarily forget that the A-train is subterranean.  I looked out the window behind me, saw graffiti-ed brick, then instantly felt like an idiot because she surely saw me and thought, “why the hell is this sexy man staring at bricks instead of me?”

I imagined her name was something simple and complicated, like Amber or Kimberly or Please Take Me Now. It wasn’t something too complex, like Allysyn where you replace almost every vowel with a ‘y’, and it surely wasn’t a one syllable affair like Ann. It had punch, fire, and it called to me.

She sat in the cracked, orange seat across from me in her stone-wash skinny jeans, ankle length black boots (she probably wears those in bed oh my god if she expects me to last more than 30 seconds she’ll have to take off the boots, thank you), a deep v-cut purple top and waist-cinching black vest, not so subtly framing her perfectly sized….I look at my hands because I’m sure she caught me staring. I mean, there’s only three feet between us, damnit, and now my first impression on her is the guy that stares at bricks then openly ogles breasts. Not a great start.

Of course she walks on the subway today, a day where I am on my way in my unimpressive scrubs to serve hordes of over-eager, incomprehensible Koreans; I’m not looking my best. As I try to subtly stuff my Cosmo magazine under my ass (yes, I read and love Cosmo, the steamy stories are to die for), I silently curse myself for leaving my apartment in anything other than a slim, sexy Kenneth Cole suit, groomed with a $200 haircut and flashy aviators; I should always be dressed to impress my soulmate. So as Amber/Kimberly/PleaseTakeMeNowInMyBoots silently bobs to what sounds like a GirlTalk mash-up, I sink into myself and rue my lack of height, charm, and hair. How am I supposed to pick up chicks when I don’t look like Ryan Gosling, John Krasinski, or even Steve Carell on his best day?

Still, I try. I prop myself up ways that I hope will accentuate my amazing neck muscles, and roll up my sleeves to show off my hairy forearms. Hairy arms are sexy, right? I occasionally glance her way, trying to make eye contact that is seemingly coincidental, but loaded with sensual subtext. I try to train my eyes to say, ‘Why yes, I am an amazing and sensitive lover,’ though I’m sure they say something more akin to ‘Why yes, I have to defecate, and soon.’

Eventually I steel my nerves, look her straight in the eye, and say “Hi, I’m Neil. I don’t do this, ever, but you are just too beautiful to let go without trying. Would you like to go for a walk through Herald Square, walk with me, maybe get some food and walk, go around the park and walk?” Amber/Kimberly/IAmYours stares back at me for a long, gut-wrenching moment with those swimming flecks in her eyes glowing like gold surrounded by dark coal, the secrets of a dangerous African mine, and she says sure. We walk off the subway together, walk around the park, walk as we reveal secrets to each other that we would never say to a person who wasn’t our soulmate, walk back to her place, and we have ravenous sex with those sleek leather books still on. It’s love.

Except for, not. After some awkward, not-as-emotionally charged eye contact as I had hoped, and posturing that only works with peacocks, the Times Square stop comes. She stands up, and my asteroid heart has officially decimated all planet life, so I stand up with her.  She glances at me, I open my mouth to say something spontaneous and hopefully cute, and she smiles. I freeze, and she saunters off the train, still smiling to whatever GirlTalk has so ingeniously mashed up, and my trembling legs fail me, I collapse onto the cracked, orange chair where Amber/Kimberly/IWillNeverKnowWhatWeWereSupposedToBe was sitting. My guts twist into sailor-impervious knots, my eyes punch through the back of my skull, and it’s all I can do to not hurl my hopes, dreams, and oatmeal breakfast all over the subway car floor.  She was it. I am completely, utterly, 100% infallibly (not) sure that my soulmate disappeared into the massive, tourist-controlled Times Square station, and I will die in a studio apartment filled with one rocking chair, one air mattress, and one TV with one Playboy channel to keep my one Libido happy. Everything else that was human went extinct with the dinosaurs.

True story.

Published by Neil Stratman

I'm an actor currently based in Chicago. Woot.

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