Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Overhearing

Overheard on the 6 train, traveling uptown, approaching the 68th Street-Hunter College stop:

"I had a friend who used to work at the next stop."

"Your friend worked at Hunter College?"

"No, I said she used to work at the next stop."

Pause.

"You got problems."

And a little later:

"Yesterday, when I was on the train ...

Pause.

"... was it yesterday that I was on the train?

Pause.

"What was yesterday?"

Pause.

"Well, I was on the train."

It sounded like poetry, or a grammar exercise in a foreign language.

Today, standing in line for a concert of new musical theater work, next to a group of enthusiastic drama students discussing their day.

"Today? In my voice lesson? I hit a high B."

"In my voice lesson, I hit an A for the first time. Usually I can't even do a F, but it was an A. He said, that? Was an A."

And later, dissecting their acting teacher's insistence that they have an activity to do during their classroom scenes:

"If I'm like, mad at somebody, I'm not going to be knitting a sweater."

When I rode the train to New York yesterday, night was falling. Snow was everywhere; tracks were iced over, and many doors on the train were frozen shut. The train was about two hours late, but only half full. The snowbanks were lit by blue-white electrical flashes from the tracks that captured the landscape in overexposed eerie light. It was like the best train rides, comforting and a little melancholy - a contrast between the familiar rumble of the cars on the tracks, and the icy empty silence outside.

Overheard on that train - one end of a cellphone conversation:

"Well, have you been indicted by a grand jury?"

"There are all kinds of assault charges."

"I don't know how different it is in New York, but maybe you'll be charged in New Jersey."

I'm riding home again now. Trains have been delayed due to the snowstorms over the weekend. I waited until the mad scramble had abated, for the most part, and took the train I ordinarily take home to Baltimore, the 8:35 p.m. from New York. It was a little late, but half full as usual.

I might have stayed the night in New York and come home during the day, when the snow situation might have been more under control, but G.-the-dog is ailing and I want to get home to her and D.

It was a stressful weekend - last Friday, on a fluke visit to the vet (when they insisted that they wouldn't renew G.-the-Dog's heartworm meds without laying eyes on her) they discovered skin cancer. She had surgery yesterday to remove the tumor. It's not uncommon in her breed, but it's still something that rattles you.

At the vet, G.-the-Dog turns from her adorable puppylike self to a snarling wolverine. They had to capture her in a towel and inject a sedative into her hind leg. I held her as she fell asleep. Both D. and I were praising her, telling her she was good and brave. I turned into the absolute cliche of a small-dog owner, and cried. The whole scenario reminded me too much of the time when a good friend had to have her dog euthanized; the story of how she held her small dog that had been with her for 16 years as it fell into its final sleep was always too heartwrenching for me to handle. While I was holding G.-the-Dog as she gave in to the sedative, my mind raced with the horrible worst-case scenarios. I knew that if anything should happen, god forbid, she would have gone to sleep comforted by us.

I'm a big old freak. I'm getting choked up about it now. That dog has wormed her way firmly into my heart and soul. Her vulnerability, innocence and intelligence make the thought of anything bad happening to her too frightening to allow.

Overheard two rows behind me, as the power blinked out briefly (as it does sometimes on Amtrak), taking out the lights and the hum of the ventilation system, making private conversations suddenly ring loudly.

"... I'm telling you, like a schoolgirl. Every man's got that fantasy..."

Mercifully, the power came back, the heaters went back on, and that slightly-disturbing conversation faded into the general noise of the car again.

Forty-five minutes until home. Back to D., and back to G.-the-Dog, and her new Frankendog stitches, and her sweet eyes, that are always happy to see me.

2 Comments:

Blogger David said...

Woooo . . . thank GOD I can finally stop pretending I don't know about this lovely little corner of the blogosphere. Congratulations, honey. I love you. :) :) :)

8:36 PM  
Blogger Faustus, MD said...

The number of sweaters I have knitted while mad at somebody would boggle the mind.

In fact, in many cases I've knitted them because I've been mad at somebody.

Faustus, M.D.

7:04 PM  

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