Monday, April 12, 2004

Two white kids in the train, maybe from out of town, maybe 13. Their shirts hang a bit voluminously on their scrawny frames but otherwise they have not completely adopted ghetto chic. A black kid gets on, a bit older, accompanied by his girlfriend with a big round butt in tight jeans and a long dyed-blond perm. He looks very street, a baseball cap over a do-rag, a shirt with an airbrushed black cartoonlike figure on it. He's on the phone with the wireless earpiece in his ear, speaking brusquely and somewhat officiously to a friend: Where you at? I'm on the train. Where you at? Fourteenth? I'll be there in five minutes. I'm with my girl. I'll be there in five minutes.

The white boys have been watching him as I've been watching all of them. One white boy gives a nod to the black guy, that upward only nod, a complicated gesture meant to summon attention but also evincing tones of recognition and admiration.

"'at's… awesome!" the white boy says, and the other white boy nods and says, "Yeah!" self-consciously touching his fingertips to his chin.

The black kid plays it stone cool, acknowledging the others only by glancing at them momentarily and giving the ghost of a nod. Next stop the white kids get off and the couple remains, he scrolling through the numbers on his phone while she faces away and stares at the darkness out the window or perhaps her reflection in it. He puts his phone away and nuzzles into her leonine hair.