Monday, February 28, 2011

Chivalry is dead at USF

"Hey, I think I saw you in a movie! Weren't you the gremlin?"

Please read the above quotation with your eyes and ask yourself, "What are the circumstances in which a man would dare say that to a woman?" Now, I'm not the first to say that chivalry is dead. In all honesty, I support chivalry. Gentlemen who open the door for me: thank you. Gentlemen who allow me to enter the subway before they do: thank you. Gentlemen on the subway who don't offer me their seats: I kind of wish you would.

To answer the question that I asked you to ask yourself, the circumstances in which a man would dare call a woman a gremlin are that of a USF women's basketball game. USF and Georgetown are neck and neck, and a petite black girl from the Georgetown team with a stick straight ponytail and biceps for days is about to shoot a free throw. Five guys in USF T-shirts heckle her from the third row. "Hey! Weren't you the gremlin?"

Everyone hears it, and I'm sure the player does too. "Hey!" The guys call out again. "Aren't you the Brain from Pinky and the Brain?" The Georgetown girl on the court lifts the ball and aims.

I wonder what would happen if I stood up and yelled from across the court at the top of my lungs, "Hey, assholes, she's in better shape than you, so put down that sausage and shut up!" Would the guys actually shut up? Would they laugh? Would the crowd applaud? Or would the crowd ignore me? That'd be awkward. Then I'd have to live for the rest of the game knowing that I was the girl who tried to tell some guys off and no one cared.

But I don't have to do any of that because the tiny Georgetown player sends the ball clean through the air, where it curves gorgeously into the net. The guys shut up. "Chivalry" lives!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gentleman on the train

I get home very late on most nights, from rehearsal or waiting tables or seeing a show. Tonight, on my way home from a writer's meeting for The First Ladies Project, I noticed a familiar-looking man board the train two stops from where I get off.

I'd seen him at least three times before, on the same car, at the same time of night. Tonight, he carried a briefcase and wore a long wool coat. A dotted silk tie peeked out from between the lapels, and his pinstriped pants were cuffed to reveal navy blue socks printed with anchors. A newsboy cap sat on his head. I watched him as he interlaced his fingers together, closed his eyes and catnapped against the subway window. His moustache and beard, expertly and cleanly shaped, were a dark gray.

His stop is the same as mine, I remembered. He seemed to have discovered the same secret I did: if you sit in the very first car, the subway will roll up so that you're right next to the exit, allowing you to arrive at your apartment thirty or so seconds earlier than if you had been sitting toward the middle or end of the train. Hey, in this fast-paced New York City life we live in, thirty seconds here and there can amount to a lot. And that's a lot of time I could be spending in my toasty apartment, instead of speedwalking along the chilly sidewalks.

Slowly he opened his eyes, only to see me gazing at him. Oops. I tried to pass it off as though I were looking at everyone on the train. I wonder what he saw. Twenty-something girl with smudgy makeup in Timberlands? Why does she carry around a busted-up North Face backpack when she should be touting a leather Louis Vuitton tote like the other girls her age? Her coat looks like a sack. Is that a rip in her leggings? Who wears leggings in public? Disgusting. He closed his eyes again.

The train slid into our station, and I roused myself from my seat, inching toward the subway door. Hoisting my backpack onto both shoulders, I stuffed my hands, rough from the cold, into the pockets of my mother's old leather jacket. My eyes were sore. The first thing I'm going to do when I get home is take out this stupid contacts.

The gentleman was at my side, ready to disembark. The train skidded to a halt and the doors flung open. Immediately, the gentleman and I threw ourselves onto the platform and raced up the stairs. While my heavy backpack pushed me forward, his body remained upright, his spry legs carrying him up the steps two at a time. He raised his briefcase in front of him, as if he were a knight and the briefcase was his templar sword. His springy trot surprised me: firstly, how old is he? Damn, he's quick. Secondly, wasn't he just asleep five seconds ago?

He beat me to the top of the stairs and pushed through the turnstile, disappearing into the street. Some paces behind him, I seemed to follow his tracks on the way back to my apartment. As my feet hit the pavement, I spotted him a block ahead of me, walking briskly home. Does the newsboy cap keep his ears warm? I wondered when I'd see him next. And what kind of socks he'd have on.