Friday, June 15, 2012

Tricks Aren't For Kids

Subway performers in the city are as common as chlamydia at Mardi Gras.  When you're a rookie on the scene you think it's a great idea to encourage them via tips or otherwise, but the sad realization that you just contributed to their meth habit quickly discourages you from repeating your donation (or not if you're into that kind of thing).  There is only one group of performers to which I willingly contribute, and their payment is solely attributed to the fact that they tell me I look like Miss America (flattery gets you into my pants...pockets apparently).  If they aren't singing a doo wop version of "Under the Boardwalk" and encouraging the straphangers to "smile - it won't mess up your hair," then you can count on me to avoid eye contact and crank up my iPod.

One afternoon I was doing just that as I headed downtown on the 6 train.  I was working the New York blend as I call it - headphones at max volume, Kindle prominently displayed, dead/soulless eyes.  The man with the colorful over-sized trunk that I noticed next to me back on the platform at 77th Street began to take apart his luggage in the middle of the subway car.  In combination with his clown trunk, his East River aroma made it clear that I was to avoid all goings on until I could switch cars at the next station.

Suddenly, a white dove flailing about the crowded subway car caught my attention.  Smelly Trunk was gracing us with a magic show, and to my surprise, the menacing bird wasn't his only companion from the animal kingdom. In his very next trick he produced a rabbit out of thin air - very thin air.  The car was stifling (its air conditioning seemingly reserved for the outer boroughs).  Smelly's performance went from zero to what-the-fuck in a matter of seconds.  I was hooked. To think, Mr. Trunk was delivering such a wonderful act with merely the hope that he would score a few bucks from the commuters' pockets.  He deserved much more.  His schtick, as "subway performer" as it was, far exceeded Carrot Top's act overrun with veins bulging with the 'roids he recently injected into his ass. Someone should have recorded this.

As I considered calling a few friends in Vegas to land this guy a gig, he moved from his trunk-o-tricks and jaunted to my end of the subway car. Sure, I had been impressed by his foolery, but I was in no way ready to interact with him. I decided to get back to the blend - looking down at my Kindle and intermittently peering up only when my sunglasses allowed proper concealment. Despite my attempts, Smelly McSmellerson was not thwarted, and what happened next will haunt me every time I swipe at the turnstile.

He stood directly in front of me - which is when I realized the stench was more of a musky I-carry-around-live-animals-in-my-creepy-trunk than an East River fragrance.  Smelly Trunk wanted me to be part of the show.  Now, if I had been fully satisfied the night before, I might have waved him away or acted as if I couldn't see him altogether, but that was not the case.  I didn't welcome the activities that followed, but I didn't reject them either.  He asked me to reach into a bag resembling a butterfly catcher sans translucence and relay to the car that the bag was indeed empty.  Even though I feared a hypodermic needle awaited me at the bottom, I tested fate and reached in.  Empty as promised. 

While he showed the rest of the car the barren bag, I turned back to my Kindle, assuming my role had been exhausted.  Before I knew it, my legs were being lifted at the ankles and rose parallel to the floor.  Smelly was waving the recently proclaimed empty bag under my legs.  If the subway E-brake actually brought the authorities instead of leaving us stalled for the unforeseen future, that would have been my opportunity to pull it.  The idea of being trapped underground with Rape Clown (formerly Smelly Trunk) did not bode well with my schedule for the day.  Fortunately, as fast as my legs were pulled up, they were set back down again.  Unfortunately, the bag was no longer empty.  Mr. Rapey started hopping about the car while he reached in the magic bag, pulled a clenched hand back out, and began whirling a black lace thong around his index finger.  While I knew they weren't my actual panties (it was laundry day),  I felt just as embarrassed as if they had been.  He was the greatest magician of all time - he managed to trick even me into thinking the panties were mine.

When his performance finally ended and it came time for the passing of the hat, he paused in front of me for my contribution.  I altruistically quipped, "Weren't my panties tip enough?” Panhandling performers are exceedingly greedy these days. I almost went home with him. 

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