First of a new series of interpretive reinactments of scenes from public transit, inspired by the following true story.
A nicely dressed black woman about 50 in a wheelchair pushed by a very tall skinny grizzled 60s-ish white man in a skipper's cap and colorful suspenders get on the J train. I am in the next seat over from the man, who is obviously a significant other and not just a caretaker (I've been married for almost 30 years, so I know these things, especially from the way she's ordering him around). And down the aisle comes a mid-thirties Chinese kid with Downs syndrome, complaining to the couple about something like he's their kid.
Right away the man and the kid are sparring like father and son about who's important, the man telling the kid "I count and she counts, but you don't." The kid protested and they laughed while the woman periodically looked over her shoulder at her husband/boyfriend dissaproving, scoffing, rolling her eyes and muttering.
And by the time I got off the train, the kid was saying when they got "there," they'd all get in the tub. And the man said "a hot tub" and the kid said "not, not a hot tub." And on and on they went.
All this after a day on the sadbrickantfarm when the masks of professionalism and convention showed their true colors and were transparent.
So after the scene in the subway yesterday, I am wondering if it's more conventional to ignore the dramas that people play out in enclosed spaces like buses and trains with an audience that (especially on trains) can't escape. Or, if it's too much to ignore, just get up and move away.
And I'm reminded that I started carrying tape recorders and then cameras on busses and trains because of those little dramas.
I imagine people like the "family" on the bus playing out their dramas in public to captive audiences only to go home to small, drab rooms and bologna sandwiches, and staring at the walls or watching reality TV.
And now I also have a picture that I can't get out of my head of Samuel Beckett getting on a bus or train, or going someplace like Union Square in New York carrying a pen and notebook (and maybe a bottle in a bag to better blend in) and taking notes.
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