"How do I know I'm mad?" asked Alice. "You must be" said the cat. "Or you wouldn't have come here."
Good thing Lewis Carrol was quoted in Batman: Arkham Asylum so I don't have look up anything for a blog.
Point being: however gentrified this city is, there is still enough crazy to go around. Trust me, it's not nearly as ballznutz crazy as it was in the 80's, when just making it through the Port Authority after rush hour was considered cheating death, but it still can test you in ways you can't smell coming. Maybe that's what this place is - an Arkham Asylum isolated by dirty rivers and ten dollar tolls. Don't get me wrong, I love it here. But some days I think I am insane for even wanting to live here. I stay up at night dreaming of a bland, spacious, McApartment in Indiana with a nice car. Days like today.
After working on Labor Day, I was heading home on the uptown N. I sat between a pair of ginormous, friendly lesbians who tried in vain to make room for me on the bench (wasn't happening) and a pair of Queens bound Queens across form me. A tall black guy with a Bible gets on at Queensboro Plaza. (sounds like a priest and a rabbi joke, but this really happened and was decidedly NOT FUNNY)
The man immediately started shouting very loudly. Even on a separate decibel scale of subway nuttery, this man stood out.
"Jesus!" he screamed. "Homosexuals and Fornicators will fry in hell."
As is always the case when I encounter the batshit I remember the rules
1. No eye contact
2. Do not try to reason with the batshit
3. Pretend you do not hear the man shouting two feet away from you.
"Gay people are a curse! It is not a choice! They are a curse on humanity!" he went on.
The gays just rolled their eyes. I did not want to dignify him bu so much as looking up from my book. Ignore him and he'll go away. My mother might say. Not today, Ma.
"There are hellbound gay people right here!" He then pointed (pointed!) to the pair of Queens, who were still in the increasingly ineffective "pretend we don't notice" mode.
Finally, a voice of dissent in the form of the oldest man on the train. Surely this elderly, bestpectacled man had seen too much in his 80 or so years to tolerate such ignorance. "Shut the fuck up! No one wants to what you think!" the old man barked and received a thunderous ovation. He went on "You'll be there in hell with him. All the ni**ers. You're all going to hell!"
(applause tetering out)
"You and all the other ni**ers! You people are all murderers and rapists."
In Minnesota, this hate-spewing man, bible guy (uhm the black guy who hates gays, not the white guy who hates black guys) would be the craziest man in four states. In this city, he is only THE SECOND CRAZIEST MAN ON THE TRAIN!
From 39th street to Broadway no one made a sound other than these two men. The riders, confused, being forced to back a homophobic screaming man or and elderly racist just stared at them and braced for some unforeseen ugliness. The tension could only last only one stop...so I thought.
The old racist got off at Broadway, and dropped a series of N-bombs on his way out the door. But the Bible guy douchenozzle never missed a beat. "Hell is a real place. Homosexuals will burn!" A voice from the back finally yelled, "Shut the fuck up, asshole" and got some applause as people desperately wanted a non-racist spokesperson to stand up to this nut. Anything to make him stop. The nutcase said "Only the homosexuals clapped!" To which i said, "I'm straight and I clapped." Which may be the first sign I was losing it since I had to have my sexuality validated by the homeless. (one of the lesbians patted me on the back for saying that) Anyway the crowd now really ganged up on and this guy seemed to dig in further as he got outnumbered.
Finally, at 30th ave the man who yelled shut the fuck up walked up to confront this guy. I thought, well here comes the fight and ensuing rioting and looting. I just hope it comes after my stop. This man was not gay. He was not black. He was not making a statement as far as I can tell. He was however, very pissed off. He cocked his arm back, as if he was going to throw a punch, but instead he spit in his face! At point blank range! Then for good measure he punched him anyway. I mean he landed a haymaker, the kind you see in a movie that makes a huge popping sound. And the guy went down Glass Joe -style!
The angry dude (uhm, again the white guy) probably would have continued to beat the shit out of him, but his stop was Astoria Blvd. His girlfriend pulled him off the train. Amazingly, the hateful screaming bat-shit, fuckface got right up, didn't even wipe the spit from his face and started yelling again, "They spit on Jesus! They beat Jesus! They yelled insults at him! I am here to save you!" Now every remaining person was yelling at this guy. After comparing himself to Jesus I said, "Pride comes before the fall." Now I know I am losing it because he made me quote the Bible. And I only knew that because it was in the Departed.
With two, possibly three minutes till my stop. I simply could not bear this hideous screaming another second. Punching, spitting, and screaming back did not deter him. Then it an idea so simple it's stupid, so brilliant it's retarded: steal his Bible. He waved that thing around like Thurman Thomas carries a football. In one motion I could grab the Bible, fling it out the doors when the opened, that way he would chase after it and the doors would close behind behind him. Me and my new gay friends would point and taunt as he banged on the closed doors. Brilliant. (see and unwritten blog that disproved my Arthur Fonzarelli one-punch knockout plan that resulted in getting band from the Derby in Atlanta since 1999)
The only problem was this was the last stop. Of course we were all getting off at Ditmars as coincidence would have it. I walked slow on the platform hoping he would walk ahead of me. But he slowed down to wait for the gays to get off so he could yell at them all the way down the stairs. So he ended up right next to me. Immediately he started screaming at the poor gay guys, who through all this tried to take the high road. There it was right at arm's length. It actually went just like I saw in my revenge fantasy! I snagged it right from under him. His tone changed from fire and brimstone to some sort of pathetic plea bargainer. "No really, give me back the Bible. C'Mon man, I need it." His voice hardly a whisper.
"My Bible now." I replied like a teacher who just took away a paper airplane.
"Really, give me back my Bible." I faked as if I threw it over the elevated platform. And his eyes followed like when I used to fake throw the tennis balls to my dear departed Chocolate Lab.
"You'll get it back if you say nothing between now and the time I cross that turnstile. "No I need my Bi-" Then he just cut off. Then after the long two seconds, I went through the turnstile before he did. Then true to my word, I dropped it at his feet.
There are so many things wrong with this incident, I don't know where to start. Let me see:
1) First of all, what if some bystanders or police officer saw me steal a Bible from a possibly homeless man and throw it? I completely forgot that the Bible is considered sacred by some sane people as well and it is more illegal than anything he did
2) This man knows my stop and could have followed me home and sacrificed me to his God
3)Obvious racists and homophobes need little prompting to let their true colors show even in the most inappropriate places.
4) The First Amendment sucks
5)How fast mob mentality can take over
6) Did sanity prevail after all? Or did this man "win" for disrupting everyone- did we "lose" for being unable to ignore him.
7) Why did it take an act of violence to unite us? Again, I think it is seldom justified- but never is a strong word. Some people need a punch in the face.
8) Is taking the high road always a more appropriate action than a confrontation, even on the subway?
More so than anything I just felt I was sane at 14th street and I was a little less sane when I got to Ditmars. Too late for a timeshare in Montanta?