Sliding Doors

In my last post, I expressed the hope that I would retain some of my Yogic balance as I re-entered the real world. This, I’ve discovered, was quite a lofty goal. After just two days, I notice dramatic changes. My shoulders have re-clenched. I’ve stopped valuing fresh air. I view life as a hundred-yard dash. My skin has lost the “I work in a yoga studio” glow and turned a “I had 6 cups of coffee today” shade of gray.

Oh, and I hate everyone. The people at Starbucks move too slowly. The people around me are too pushy. And that woman’s outfit just completely sucks. Or at least that’s how I felt last night when I got on the train, grumpily munching on a bag of soy crisps, wishing that I wasn’t eating on the train, and that everyone else would disappear.

So you can imagine my chagrin when a man sitting directly across from me said, “Hmm..oh those look good.” I immediately halted consumption and looked furiously in the other direction. There was a pause, and then laughter. The man’s friend wheezed out like a hyper-active third grader, “uh oh. She’s like..pissed.”

The only thing I hate more than being spoken to rudely by strangers is being spoken about rudely in the third person when I’m right there. But then I had a glimpse of my old, civilized yogini self. I realized, “I am pissed, But maybe I don’t want to be.”

I spun around back towards them and reached my hand with the chips across the subway car.

“Here! You want some.” [Full disclosure: This was a gesture was one of challenge, not of pure kindness.]

To my delight, I really caught them off guard. But they recovered, and the man who spoke first replied, “I do want some, but I feel bad putting my hand in your bag.”

“Ok! Fine!” I reached my hand in and grabbed a handful. “Do you mind if my hand touches them?” He did not and accepted my offer. “What about you?” I turned to his friend.

“Well, I want some…but…I…you know…”

I interrupted, “You’re a germaphobe and you don’t believe I wash my hands?”

“No!” He laughed, clearly embarrassed. “Too much pride!” (I think he said that just because he didn’t want me to know he was a germaphobe.)

“Oh, whatever, your friend took some.” He accepted and I passed over some chips.

Now, his friend was looking at me like I was kind of nuts. (I can’t imagine why.) “Where are you from, anyway.”

“New York!” I sighed. His jaw dropped.

“Seriously…you’re from here?” He shook his head. “I thought you were from California because you’re just so…liberal.” I refrained from pointing out that California was the state to elect Arnold Schwarzenegger and ban gay marriage. He continued, “Are you an artist, then?”

“Why?”

“Well, you look like an artist… I mean… you don’t look you work for one of those Silicon Valley companies.”

I had to laugh. “Well, up until Sunday, I was a ‘writer,’ so I guess I was an artist. But as of Monday, I do in fact work for one of those Silicon Valley companies. In marketing.”

He shook his head, wallowing in his two strike-outs so far. He picked up back up. “So..what’s your background?”

“Huh? You mean like in marketing, or in life?”

“I mean…shalom, shalom?’

More in shock than anything, I blurted out, “Are you asking if I’m Jewish?” He nodded eagerly.

“No way, man, she’s Italian!” His friend interjected.

“I am Jewish,” I responded evenly. “But I guess you just knew that because I tried to feed you.”

“No.” Now was he was aggressive. “I knew. I could tell. I have an Uncle from Israel.”

Not sure what that had to do with anything, I continued, “Where are you from?”

It turned out that they were both from Haiti. The first one was Clifford, and the second was Randolph and they had a grown up there together only to run into each other on Broadway, where Randolph was studying to be a chef.

“The French Culinary Institute?” I offered.

“Wow, Yeah,” They chorused in shock as though I had re-discovered relativity.

Then Clifford asked, “How long have you been married?”

I glanced down. I haven’t pretended to be married since Halloween when I made the rather grandiose gesture of giving away my fake engagement ring. However, my class ring had spun around again to look like a wedding band.

“I’m not married.”

“So you’re single? Or do you have a boyfriend?”

“Umm..” I looked away.

“Look at me in the eye,” he nearly shouted. “Do you or do not have a boyfriend.”

I looked him in the eye. “I do not have a boyfriend. To my knowledge.”

“Is that like, I do not have a child, to my knowledge?” Randolph asked.

“She doesn’t have a boyfriend.” Clifford declared. He cocked his head at Randolph. “Get her number.” Randolph reddened.

“I’m not giving my number out on the subway train!” I laughed. They continued to try. They spoke French. Clifford ran across the subway and sat next to me. “It’s not about dating,” he explained, “It’s about energy! It’s about an energetic connection.”

Celebrity death match: Yoga RB vs. Silicon Valley RB. Did I believe in energy, or did I believe you shouldn’t talk to strangers? That’s when I noticed that my boxing ring had an audience–everyone else on the train car. They looked either uncomfortable, or amused. Needless to say, Google won out.

“Listen, you can’t have my number, but you can have my name. It’s really really easy to find me on the Internet, and if you’re serious, you can look me up.”

“What!” yelped Clifford. “The Internet? Are you kidding???”

“I’m very searchable!” I assured him with a smirk. Then I noticed that he had some of those wooden Hindu yoga beads. I forgot about the audience. “The yoga bracelets!”

“I bet you didn’t think I’d be into yoga!” He paused. “Give Randolph your number.”

“Nope. But if you want you come into Yoga__ for a free week of Yoga you can!” Yup. I was still marketing the yoga studio.

“Do you go there?”

“No, I work there. Well..I used to.”

“Where is it?”

“You can find it on the Internet.”

“Man! What the hell is it with you and the Internet?”

Yeah, I wondered suddenly, What was it with me and the Internet?

“You just have to google it…” I assured him weakly.

He wrinkled his eyes brows. “Fine. If that’s how it is. If you want to be that way.”

Be that way. That way that cranky, unfriendly and frightened people are, I guessed. Shamed, I started to scurry off the train, before it dawned on me how silly this all was. Screw the audience. And screw fear–these guys were never going to show up at yoga. But at least I could avoid being rude.

I turned over my shoulder and called, “19th and 5th” before darting through the closing doors.

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8 thoughts on “Sliding Doors

  1. This kind of scenario sounds so very familiar. Like a test of some kind, to see how well all that sweet lovey-ness has stuck when one suddenly finds oneself outside of the world that sustains who you think you've become.

    It's not like I think there's some kind of force or “greater power” testing anyone. More, I think we test ourselves, unwittingly.

    And pass or fail (or perhaps we can get like a C- instead?!) it's all just part of the process of learning who we are and how integrated our new outlook is on life.

    That said, those guys sounded kinda bossy and aggressive.

    One of them may have been talking about energy but it has to be something that's felt both ways, not just one way. And just because someone does yoga does not mean you're gonna be friends for life with them!

    So I think you did pretty well under the circumstances. For what it's worth, I don't think I'd have given them my number either.

    Reply
  2. Marvelous, marvelous, marvelous! “I'm very searchable” has to be the defining line for the new decade. Honestly, RB, I get so much from your writing that helps me in untold ways.

    Reply
  3. Like Bill Murray said in the 80's movie version of the Razor's Edge, it's easy to be enlightened on top of a mountain…or something like that…I ain't on top of no mountain neither…

    Reply
  4. I googled you because of your beautiful energy. You are very searchable. And I'm astounded to learn you're single.

    Reply
  5. The bottom line, in terms of the pick-up situation, is that you basically said “let's see if you're interested enough to delay your gratification.” Which is a good move. And you never know how it's going to turn out.

    Although, actually giving your number might have almost the same effect, depending on the guy.

    Reply

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