Unrequited longing on the morning commute
January 12, 2001
It was good seeing you again this morning.
It's been a while, I know. I used to see you all the time, because when I worked at Billboard, we worked in the same building. (I imagine you work somewhere within Viacom.) Like me, you got to work around 9:30 every morning.
I know this because we commute together. You take the 6 to the N/R, like I did to get to the Viacom building, and like I do now to get to the Economist. But I haven't seen you in a long while, probably because I get to work a little earlier now than I used to.
But for a few months, I saw you a lot, and every time I swooned. If ever in my life I have fallen in love on sight alone, it has been with you. You are of average height, maybe five-foot-six; you have shoulder-length brown hair; you have beautiful features -- high cheekbones, sultry eyes, full lips; from what I remember from the summer months, you have an incredible curvaceous body; you may even be Jewish.
Alas, I have never spoken a word to you. While I am certainly ballsy enough to say hello, I could not figure out how. No pretty woman on a New York City subway wants to be approached by an unfamiliar man, no matter how kind and friendly he may be. And since we have only the most tenuous connection -- "Hey, baby, what elevator bay do you take at 1515?" -- I couldn't find a way to introduce myself.
I've only seen you a handful of times since I left Billboard last January. But this morning, I left for work a little earlier than usual. And when I got on the subway, a shiny and brightly lit new 6 train, at 86th Street, there you were, sitting down, applying your makeup.
You glanced at me with a hint of recognition and left it at that. I immediately lost track of what I was reading in the newspaper. You were putting on your makeup and I could do nothing but watch you. And I immediately made up my mind that today would be the day I finally said hello.
By the time the train reached 77th Street I had my entire spiel planned out for our walk from the 6 down to the N/R platform.
"Hi. You work in the Viacom building, don't you?"
(and I'd expect a tentative "yyyeah," at which point I'd continue--)
"I used to work there, for Billboard. I saw you all the time on the commute, and I always wanted to introduce myself. And I never knew how, and I still don't know how, so let me just say that my name is David, and I have always thought you are a beautiful woman, and if it's not too incredibly crazy, I'd like to buy you lunch one day next week."
I didn't know how you'd react, so I stopped my fantasy there. I half expected not to be able to finish my soliloquy without losing your attention, really, and if you turned me down, that would be the end of that. But dammit, I was going to do it and get it out of my system. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
At 68th Street the 6 train broke down.
Everyone filed off the train, and suddenly we were all standing four deep waiting to resume our commute. Minutes passed. Aggravation levels rose. I actually got pressed into you and said, "Excuse me," but mashed within the annoyed throngs of silent commuters, I opted against encroaching you in conversation.
It took us three or four trains to get back on, and I managed to get on the same train as you to 59th Street for our usual transfer. But by then your mood must have soured, and when the N/R platform was bustling upon our arrival, I gave up my pursuit. You walked by me to a point one door farther up the train, as usual, and I watched you go by but left you alone, leaving me to my fantasies.
Maybe someday I'll see you again. Next time I probably won't say anything, but if I can work up the courage again, I will.
I wish I knew who you were. I wish I knew your name, or someone who knew you, so I could find you, and know you. I hope you're the kind of person who doesn't mind talking to strangers once in a while, because someday, however briefly, that stranger will be me.
Have a good commute home. I hope I see you again soon.