Rohit's Realm

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June 17, 2008

Welcome to New York, Bum Style

Eeyore in the Rain

Earlier this week, Heavy-D insinuated that the vast improvement in weather in Chicago immediately following my hasty departure on Sunday was not readily explained as mere coincidence. Normally, I would not be apt to disagree. Given my dour outlook and surly disposition, it is not unfathomable that bad weather follows me around as though my life was a (seriously depressing) cartoon. Unfortunately, as much as I aspire to be like Eeyore (see nearby drawing), the rather pleasant weather here in New York City squarely contradicts this notion.

The sentiment may not be entirely misplaced, however. While bad weather might not follow me around as much as I would like, another thing invariably does. That's right. Bums. Oh, how I've missed them so.

As long time readers can no doubt attest to, my ability to attract the homeless like flies to shit has never ceased to amaze over the years. Whether in Berkeley or in San Francisco, for six long years I was targeted and terrorized by the evil menace that lurks on the (pothole-laden) streets of the Bay Area. Indeed, the respite from close encounters (of the bum kind) in Chicago might have to do less with some fundamental change in my body chemistry1 than with the fact that criminals and vagabonds in Hyde Park put the few homeless to shame in terms of terror.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be), my arrival in New York City has eviscerated my riff raff slump with a rabid fervor. Today, in the space of only three hours, I witnessed three ridiculous episodes.

Episode One: The Mugging That Wasn't

The first occurred moments after I stepped off the subway at the 96th St. station. As I ascended the stairs of the station to the street level on 94th St. and Broadway, I heard a woman screaming loudly: Let me go! Let me go! LET ME GO!! It sounded as though someone was getting assaulted in broad daylight. I looked around and located the source of the shouting: a woman was standing in the middle of the street trying to pull away desperately from a man grasping her firmly by the arm while cars tried to avoid hitting them both. A man in a cheap suit was standing nearby on a cell phone, sometimes talking to the man grasping the woman. Around them, a crowd of curious onlookers had gathered, but no one was saying or doing anything. Was this the way crime went down in New York? So blatantly?

The woman continued to struggle to no avail, alternating between hysterical crying and crazed shouting. Finally, after what seemed like ages, the woman broke free, leaving her purse behind, contents strewn in the street. The man picked up the purse and recovered something. Now it all made sense. The cheap suit was a security guard. The woman was a shoplifter, and possibly psychotic and/or homeless. The man grasping her may have been a do-gooder (unlikely), or merely a random thug. In any case, shit had gotten real. And on the Upper West Side, no less.

Episode Two: Public Orgasm

Leaving the scene of the craziness in the street behind, I looked at my watch. I had dinner plans at 7 p.m., but having misjudged transit time, had arrived about 20 minutes early. I decided to leave Broadway and walk to West End, where presumably the chances of encountering bums would be low. For six blocks, the presumption held true. No bums—only various joggers, old people, and young parents with strollers. Then, approaching 100th, I saw another group of people standing around and staring up.

What could they possibly be looking at? Then I heard it: a woman engaged in what had to be either really, really great or really, really awful sex. Nothing less could inspire the volume or sheer magnitude of her ecstasy, real or otherwise. At first, I thought the noise was coming from a minivan with a half open window and a woman at the wheel stopped at a red light.2 But when the light turned green and the orgasm did not abate, I realized that it must be coming from an open window in one of the nearby buildings. As I continued to walk away slightly amazed at what just occurred, I heard some people in the group cheering the woman on. Things seriously could not get any more ridiculous.

Episode Three: The Bum Serenade

Except, they could. After dinner, I boarded the 1 line to head home. As I boarded, I noticed an unkempt man dressed in a dirty blue muscle shirt à la Miami Vice holding a flute pass through the door that connected one subway car to another.3 As the train doors closed, trapping all passengers inside until at least the next stop, the bum began to play his flute. Badly. Really badly. To say it sounded like a cat dying a horrible, tortured death would be an understatement.

The serenade continued from 96th all the way to 116th. At each stop in between, passengers got off in disgust, probably without it even being their stop. A guy was standing around with a lacrosse stick and I was seriously tempted to take it, bash the bums face in, and then break his flute. As the 116th St. station arrived, I suppressed the impulse and prepared to escape. Just at that moment, the bum stopped playing and approached the door near to which I was standing. He looked at me and a woman standing next to me, and said, Got any money, brother?

Got any money? Brother? Rot in hell, asshole. I wish I had had the mental agility to hand him some money and suggest he use it on bullets to end his own life. Unfortunately, I did not. But next time something awful like this happens, you can be sure that I will.

Three days in New York City, three encounters with bums, riff raff, and weirdos. I'm back, baby!

^ 1 I am convinced that it is an issue of pheromones for me. How typical. Most people attract members of the opposite sex with their pheromones; I attract society's dredges with mine.
^ 2 Anyone who could get themselves off this well while driving a car has my utmost respect.
^ 3 Incidentally, I did not even know that one could move between subway cars in New York. Guess the signs that say not to do not mean that one cannot.


All men can learn from episode 2. If she isn't loud enough to be heard on the street several stories down, you aren't doing your job properly.

Ten bucks says she was using a Rabbit.

This is all I could hear while reading your post:

I think it's your new theme song.

She was moaning cause she knew you were approaching man!

Um...interesting. When you feel the need to escape from those kind of weirdos, come to DC to experience a different kind of weirdo.

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