New York in July, hot and breezy, the smell of pizza and coffee in the air, and on the subway one is surrounded by women in light summer dresses, the bare shoulders of elegant young urban women whose shoulders tell you they never toted barges or lifted bales, never laid eyes on a barge or a bale except for someone barging into their office and giving them a baleful look. They are swanning along through their twenties and I love to look at them while observing the No Staring rule, five seconds max but five seconds of a beautiful New York woman burns an image on your retina that will see you through the miseries of the city.
Such as Penn Station, America's ugliest waiting area, made uglier by Amtrak's infernal blockheadedness. It is a lovely thought, passenger rail service, but Amtrak has an uncanny ability to take a few hundred ordinary Americans and make you feel like refugees. One moment you're in New York, 2008, and the next you're in Warsaw, 1939, trying to squeeze aboard the last train to Sweden. Passengers crowding into stairways, elbowing each other to find seats for which they've paid a pretty penny it's as if online reservations hadn't been invented yet.
By comparison, the subway is rather civilized. In the L train station at 8th Avenue an LED display tells you the next train to Brooklyn will leave in eight minutes and, lo and behold, it does. This is a huge advance in the history of American mass transit. The relief of the station-platform blues Oh how long how long must I stand and wait?
My baby is in Brooklyn and I cannot, no I cannot be late.