A leggy blonde sat next to me on the platform as I waited for the F train to take me home to Queens. She clutched one of those rollaway carry-on kinds of suitcases, which is what prompted the old guy next to her to ask, “Are you taking a trip or something?”
She said no, she just carried it around with her.
“Oh, you keep all your stuff in there? Or do you keep the bodies of your ex-boyfriends in there?”
She offered a little courtesy laugh, and said that yeah, she chopped up her exes and kept them in her suitcase.
“What’d they do to piss you off?” he asked. She smiled again and shrugged. The guy made me feel uncomfortable; he was so desperate to talk to a pretty woman he had captive on the platform.
He peppered her with nonsensical questions, surrendered all dignity. I began to feel guilty by association; the mere fact that we carried similar apparatus under our clothes made me burn with shame. Then he crossed the line.
“I’ve got a business idea.”
“Oh yeah, what’s that?” she asked.
“You could extract the semen from those dead boyfriends and then sell it to women with infertile husbands. You could make millions and share it with me.”
Despite its vulgarity, the introduction of semen into the conversation didn’t faze the woman a bit. She just rolled her eyes and said, “You’re hilarious,” in a way that meant she was just putting up with him.
When the train arrived, he followed the woman and sat next to her. I wanted to shout out to him, “You’re off your game, buddy, just leave her alone!” Something macho and paternal, something to redeem myself from all the harm he’d done thus far. But I noticed her smile. She appeared undisturbed—like she could take care of herself. I let it go: Let the woman shoot him down, if she wasn’t interested.
We traveled Uptown, and his lines unspooled like frayed rope. But the woman didn’t flinch. Then the unthinkable happened: She took out her BlackBerry and typed in his email address. I couldn’t believe it. He read it out to her, and she entered it.
“Is that right?” she asked. She showed him the screen. He frantically dug into his pocket and pulled out a worn glasses case. He opened the case and unfolded the glasses with lenses the size of saucers. His eyes looked like moons through a telescope.
I waited for a swallowed laugh to erupt out of her in a giant snort. Instead she just held up her gadget and confirmed with a vigorous nod that she had the right data.
At the next stop, she got up and pulled her suitcase with her.
“I just need to tell you that what you did was amazing,” I said as I sidled up next to the guy.
He looked at me with intense focus. “Why?”
“I didn’t think you had a chance. I really didn’t,” I explained.
“Because I’m old?” He looked taken aback.
“Please don’t feel bad. I’m here to praise you. What I witnessed was a thing of beauty.”
“The only guys who will talk to her are slobs who say, ‘You wanna fuck?’ She’s lonely and gorgeous. Men don’t understand: They crave us more than we crave them. I do this all the time; I’ve slept with hundreds of beautiful women. Did you see her?”
“She’s 5-11. I’m 5-9. I’ll get her in a 69; I’ll have to reach my head up to suck on her butt and for three days after, my neck will be sore. Every time I move my head it’ll hurt, and I’ll think of her.” Flecks of saliva flew from his mouth and sprayed me. I sat back suddenly.
“Am I offending you?” he asked.
“No, it’s OK. Just not so many details, if you don’t mind.”
“Right. Anyway, it’s Daddy: They all want a man to take care of them.”
“Maybe not all, maybe just the type you click with,” I said.
“Real women want a man.”
“Not real, just your type. They’re all real.”
“OK, fine. We’re just split over words. I love them, I love them all.”
And so we chatted about women while the F train rattled and scraped its way out of Manhattan and deep into Queens. For the next 20 minutes, I learned about this hunched, intense man. He revealed his methods and his history. He told me about his wife who died of cancer, leaving him with an infant daughter who went to relatives. He never raised her, and always longed to take care of a young woman. His flings were all women who needed a father figure. He painted a portrait of mutual longing and crude compassion. It was the entire human condition wound up in this 65-year-old, spittle-flecked, pot-bellied little man with incredible vitality.
Sean Sakamoto is obsessed with weirdos and nerds. He spends all his money documenting them on www.idratherbe.tv.