Sunday, June 8, 2008

T & C Surfwear, Praise Jesus, Pink Blur (3/12/07)

For the longest time I wondered in the yin-yang symbol why they put the little circle of white inside the black and the little circle of black was inside the white half, since you could convey balance's image through just the curvy halves of black and white. I'd stare and stare at this symbol, brought to me courtesy of my favorite t-shirt in middle school, one by T&C Surf designs, with the little logo on the front left breast and the big design on the back, the shirt itself brought to me courtesy of the one clothier in Hagerstown at the time that carried the brand, Leed's. I think it later burned down.

I'm on the four train Saturday night, the night after I wrote the last blog and the day after I saw death. I'm heading back from dinner at a middle eastern place, and I"m carrying Olivia's doggy bag of chicken shwarema. Olivia, Katie, and Liz are talking on one side of the car, John and I standing at another end. I'm facing the front of the train car. Now, usually the 4 train is express, but this weekend the 3 train isn't running, so it's making all the local stops. Beggars I think like local trains better because there are more stops and thus more chances for different people to be on the train.

I'm talking to John and I can look into the car in front of me. Next thing I see this little person stomping through the doors between the train cars--she's going at blazing speed in a bright pink puffy jacket and knit hat, just a blur of pink whizzing by me at top speed. But not fast enough for me not to see her face, which had its jaw locked, its eyes deadset and narrow and wild all at the same time, and an unmistakable expression of distaste toward what she has to do next. About this time I hear this voice tear out of this tiny frame behind me. She has bad skin, acned and sallow cheeks.

"Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, I'm very sorry to bother you..." I know what's coming, and I now know the reason for the look. "So if you have any spare change, or, even better, even better ladies and gentlemen, any food, leftover from dinner, whatever..."

John points with his eyes--both of us have stopped talking, it being an impossibility with this speech going on--at me, then the eyes jab at the brown bag I'm carrying, then points over my shoulder to the pink blur. I turn around, and Olivia's facing away from me, on the other side of the pink blur, who is still talking. Liz, however, is facing me and I get her attention to get Olivia. I hold the shawerma bag up and jerk my head toward blur. Olivia nods, sure.

I tap her on the shoulder.

"Here you go."

"Ohmygod thank you, thankyouthankyouthankyou," and she tears ass away like an animal hoarding its treasure from predators, or like she doesn't want to give me the chance to change my mind. Either way I feel intensely, profoundly familiar and overhwelmend and then, as the wave and onrush of emotion fades, contentment. I tell John, "This might sound strange, but it's things like that that make me happy I live here."

"I know. Me too."

A couple stops later we see the pink jacket again, out on the platform as the train is pulling away. It's not a blur anymore, and the girl is walking slowly with her eyes closed, like someone nodding out on heroin.

John says, "She's not carrying the bag anymore." And furrows his brow. This is not good.

"Well, you can't control what she does with it once you give it to her." I shrug. He agrees.

We bring this up to our crew once we get off the train and are walking home. Katie saw her at the other end of the train,

"No, she ate it. She ran down to the other end of the train and sat down with it. I'm pretty sure she ate it with her fingers. She kept stopping and repeating, "Praise Jesus, Praise Jesus, Praise Jesus." Olivia thought someone had given her half of their McDonald's coke.

"Yeah, she was crying, too," John says. I look at him.


"Yeah, you didn't know that? Right after you gave it to her. I thought that's why you said what you said about living here."

"I had no idea."

If that T-shirt still fit me I'd be wearing it right now, fellas. Tell you what.

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