Making Friends on the Subway

From Hearts Everywhere

I was on my way home from a doctor’s appointment, headed Downtown on the express green train. I was seatless, clenching to the disgusting oily pole, my purple nails blatantly at the eye level of the two women squished in the bench below me. I tried to focus on my book, but the conversation of the two women was too loud.

“Can I take this to Canal Street,” asks the younger one, an urban Fashionista in training.

“I thought this stopped there, but I don’t see it on the map. You have to transfer to the local, I think.” She was a thin blonde with straggly hair and sounded a bit manic, but her eyes were focused enough. She kept saying the same thing in different ways but she seemed lonely rather than crazy.

The Fashionista wanted to know if she could walk.

“I don’t know. It’s kind of far. I think it stops at Canal and Center. Where do you want to go?” The blonde started interrogating her.

She told her she wanted to go in the neighborhood where they sell the fake purses.

At this point I chimed in. I told her to get off at Brooklyn Bridge (next stop) and walk. It was 15 minutes max. Satisfied with my solution, she went back to fiddle through her People Magazine.

But the other women kept talking to me – and fast. Later on when I got home and told my boyfriend about this interaction, he immediately coined her as THAT kind of woman. The kind that will latch onto me. I have a Weirdo magnetism, he reminds me.

“I love your nail polish,” the bleached blonde transitioned the conversation.

“Thanks,” I told her. “I actually don’t like it, though. My boyfriend got it for me.”

“Oh, so you put it on to ‘please him’?” She assumed, and did the quote marks in the air for emphasis.

“Oh no,” I explained. It was the only color I had in the house and last night my very old manicure got the best of me and I had to redo them.”

“Well I love them!” She continued. “What are you reading?”

Bukowski. Ham on Rye.”

“Is it good? I love him. I loved Barfly. Mickey Rourke was in that, wasn’t he? Faye Dunaway was amazing! Did you see it? I love Faye Dunaway. Are you a writer?”

She poked me where I was weak.

“Yes, I’m a writer.” I smiled proudly.

“Me too,” she says. “I’m originally from San Diego, you know a California girl but I’ve lived here 10 years and I’m a New Yorker now. I just love it. I’m a stand-up comedienne and a writer.” She certainly had the speaking speed of a New Yorker.

“So have you read Bukowski?” I came back to topic.

She told me she hadn’t. (Didn’t she just say she loved him?) I told her I recommend Women and The Post Office. We chatted the whole way from Union Square to Wall Street.

Her pointer finger was wrapped in a bandage. She told me her window almost amputated it this past weekend. Sixteen stitches and she was meeting a lawyer on Wall Street. It was her landlord’s fault, she insisted because the window wasn’t installed correctly.

She loved Faye Dunaway, she kept bringing it back around to the classic actress. Had I seen “Mommy Dearest?” Of course I had. It was a cult movie – did I know that? Who did I think was better? She said that her sister and her often argued about who was more interesting. Was it Faye Dunaway or Joan Crawford, the woman she portrayed? We jointly quoted “No more wire hangers” and laughed about it.

She used to work in media, the comedienne/writer whispered. “I was BIG in that world,” she explained, “but no longer. I make a little money doing the comedy thing but I mostly live on my savings. The recession has been hard on me, but I’m happy. I’m living my American dream. I’m so glad I don’t have to get up in the morning anymore or rush to get to work.” 

Me too, I told her. But I have kids I told her. She said congratulations.

When the train stopped at Wall Street she gave me her card. It was one of those flimsy ones you can get for free at Vista Print. It was mauve with a generic butterfly picture in a circle. It had her name, cell phone and email address on it. I noticed the Website looked rather long, but when I looked closer I realized it was absurd. Without revealing it, it was something like: http://www.realwebsite./profile/AB/73-2B/ac.htm

I thought that seemed odd – but gave her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was just not Internet savvy.

“Where are you from?” she asked as we were getting off the train.

I told her I was from here.

“You’re way too friendly to be a New Yorker. Are you on Facebook?” she screamed as she trailed up the stairs behind me.

“Yes,” I told her. Luckily I didn’t give her my name or my Website.

“FACE ME,” she screamed and turned onto Broadway, walking away from me.

When I got home I recounted the story and we pulled up the wacky Web address.

What we found was Internet chaos attached to this unique woman that some may label as being crazy – but not because she spoke quickly or was a bit quirky. She was completely delusional. She had about 10 blog-type sites attached to her profile and most of them were unprofessional, desperate and completely Hallmark. Her main cause seemed to be Internet fraud and in proving her innocence.

Her professional resume was a series of Assistant jobs, which were, to her credit, mostly at reputable media companies, but she didn’t hold any one job longer than a year.

Between her various egoistic splashes on the Internet, there was very little writing. There were scattered inspirational quotes and chicken-cross-the-road type jokes. It was very clumsy, adolescent and repetitive. She kept referring to herself in the third person and many of her paragraphs were composed of sentences which all began with her name.

It looked a little like this:

Jane Doe is amazing. Jane Doe is a writer and living her dream. Jane Doe is a stand-up comedian. Jane Doe is reliable. Jane Doe loves God and happiness and New York City and TRUTH.

My boyfriend and I spent a few minutes bouncing around these “unconventional” (and I say that with quote marks in the air) sites before laughing out loud at the preposterousness.

“I told you she was THAT type of woman,” the boyfriend says.

And here I thought I made a new friend.

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