Thursday, December 04, 2003

In my moment of exquisite humiliation the somber face of New Jersey Nets coach Byron Scott peered at me from the TV.

There is a quietude on the subway that deters drama, even action of any kind, even thought. When there is a commotion everyone refuses to be perturbed by it. Their stubborn calm in its choppy wake produces an absurd, theatrical incongruity.

A few years ago I was going to work on the Broadway local and it was crowded, every seat taken and people shoulder to shoulder and back to back, trying to ignore this enforced intimacy. A young black man, perfectly well dressed, who was sitting down and had been completely quiet the whole trip suddenly cried out, "Why can't I get the good pussy!? All I ever get is the ugly ass black pussy! Why can't I get the good white pussy?!" He seemed genuinely distressed, uncomprehending, intent not on shocking or dismaying anyone so much as venting a legitimate grievance to the world. "Why do I always get the ugly black pussy!"

When he burst into his rant a faint current of shock jolted the cabin almost imperceptibly, for the briefest moment, then every face returned to its neutral, unconcerned demeanor.