Monday, January 23, 2006

So Uma gets onto a bus

The MTA has caused me plenty of heartache in the six years I’ve lived in New York, most recently forcing me -- thanks to the strike -- to walk eight miles home from my job in midtown to my brownstone in Brooklyn in the middle of December.

And it was no different this morning as I sat shivering under the drippy highline overpass at 18th Street waiting for one of the five – FIVE! – M14 buses lined up, but not moving, outside of Chelsea Piers to spirit (drag) me crosstown so I could get to work. I’m not sure what it is about 18th Street, it must be the designated smoke/eat a sandwich in the back/pee in a bottle stop for the drivers along this route, because you’re always waiting even though there is a veritable FLEET of buses seemingly at the ready.

Feeling my bouncy new curls sag into oblivion and growing crosser with each passing moment as I worried a rock in the bottom of my shoe, I tried to think happy thoughts about the MTA so I wouldn’t throttle the lazy driver once she eventually opened the door.

Surprisingly, I conjured up one shiny, happy memory I have of the MTA that momentarily salvaged my mood (until the bus driver nearly drove past me without stopping and I had to throw my body against the door of the moving beast to catch her attention). That was uncalled for, lady. Really.

Anyway, back to the happy stuff that makes New York magical every 10 months or so.

So this summer some friends and I went to go see the New Pornographers in Prospect Park, which is a neighborhood over from Carroll Gardens. Unsure that we’d be able to sneak booze in past the guards, we decided to give our livers a rare treat and take in the show sober. I showed up with my roommate Lacy and our friend Melissa and a few other people, and soon enough we ran into friends who were sitting on a picnic blanket happily sucking down a Thermos of caparinhas. Our weak resolve crumbled, and Lacy and I promptly set off in search of the closest liquor store (with a caparinha go-cup in hand).

What joy we found at the liquor store when we encountered FIVE-DOLLAR BOXES of wine, about the size of those soymilk things, that would easily stack in the bottom of my bag and inside of Lacy’s jacket, easily allowing us to bypass the guards (who obviously didn’t care all that much if the crowd descended into a drunken haze, oblivious to the mass trampling of toddlers and dogs).

Only when we got back to our seat did we realize that each box contained the equivalent of TWO boxes of wine. It was not good wine, mind you, but the sun was shining, the air was balmy, it was summer, there was music, and soon enough, we were drunk as pirates.

Eventually, after decamping to a friend’s house, it was the middle of the night and time for the pirates to find a ride home. Melissa and I set off in search of a cab. A subway was out of the question, since it was one of those nights you feared you’d lose balance and fall onto the third rail. Unable to find a cab, we stood near a bus stop and maniacally waved down – much as you would a cab – the next bus that came by.

The details are fuzzy, but to this day I believe we successfully hailed an MTA bus. I mean, an off duty bus, or a bus that was not supposed to stop there. Melissa looks shockingly like Uma Thurman and I looked like a tall redhead who had been on a six-hour bender (and thus, he knew, probably had zero defenses against a pass, even if it was from a man wearing blue polyester).

“Where you girls headed?” he asked. “CARROLL GARDENS!” we screamed. “Can you take us there? Do you go there?” “Uhhhhhh…not really. But hop in anyway.”

We spent the next ten minutes chattering away at the driver, who probably immediately regretted his decision, and he kindly dropped us off a block from each of our respective houses and wished us both a good night.

How’s that for service? Hail a bus. Try it sometime. It helps if you look like Uma Thurman.

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