Sitting with Crazy
So the other day I was heading home from the city.
I hopped on a semi-crowded subway and I scanned the car hoping that I wouldn't have to deal with an invasive 'middle seat excuse me' situation. I saw one seat in a two-seater open. The dude sitting there was this asian guy. I sat down next to him and opened up my Star Magazine (that I excitedly impulse bought like a real grade-A douchebag). All of a sudden my seat mate said something out loud and incoherent. I looked over at him and he continued talking at nobody (or to himself. i couldn't tell). I did a double take on him and saw that he was sweaty and his skin didn't look so great. Crazy. His loud personal conversation drew attention in the car. People started looking at Crazy-- and me sitting next to him-- and they gave me that, 'Oh man. You caught some Crazy this ride...' look.
There's a certain pride New Yorkers have in our ability to tolerate Crazy. A shield of ignorability that goes up when you get around Him or Her. There's a certain pressure to 'stick it out' for a little while before separating yourself from Crazy. To show you have Crazy experience. I continued to read my Star about some non-star star from The Hills-- as Crazy's conversation turned into an argument. I gotta admit his tone made me a little nervous. I found myself strategizing my defense move if he all of a sudden assaulted me or whatever. Digging deep into my 8th grade karate lessons for how to block a knife-- wax on wax off or whatever...
Crazy seemed to be getting really agitated with himself (or whomever). Fortunately, the next subway stop came up and some people get off. I got up as if I was getting off the train and then detoured to one of the newly opened seats. Happy to have a good distance from Crazy. As new riders got on I saw some corporate style woman sit down next to Crazy (he had gotten all silent when the doors opened). I could see the faces around the car all staring at this chick. Trying to mentally yell, 'Honey! That guy is Crazy! Don't get comfortable!!' The doors closed. The train pulled away. And asian Crazy started in again. Loud.
We all stared at this chick gauging her level of Crazy tolerance. She probably felt the mixed feelings. The natural pressure to immediately move away from Crazy-- but to show that she was a New Yorker and that Crazy couldn't scare her off so quickly. She stuck it out for a respectable couple minutes (enough time for one ranty argument) before casually walking to another seat. We gave her head nods of respect for her level of Crazy tolerance.
And all the way home I monitored this situation. All sorts of different people unknowingly sat down next to Crazy. Old ladies, Hasidic dudes, Business guy, Whatevery dude. All weirdly self-conscious expressions when they noticed Crazy. But all stuck it out for a little while. A couple minutes at least. In fact, there was only one person who immediately moved away from Crazy the moment Crazy announced himself to be Crazy.
Some other asian dude...
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