It Hardly Matters

Friday, March 02, 2007

Nothing Better

You know it's a smashup Valentine's Day when at 9:10 pm you are rudely awoken by an MTA employee repeatedly screaming "Please leave the train!" through the loudspeaker of the Metro-North from White Plains. You cuddle into the seat a bit more, for warmth, thinking it's all a dream, then realize that you are indeed cuddled into a Metro-North train seat and everyone else has abandoned the train for Grand Central. Yes, you are the sleeping person on the train. And they want your ass off.

Your eyes pop open and you leap as gracefully as an elephant with an inner ear problem from your seat, clutching your 20-pound schoolbag and muttering "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" to no one in particular. You lurch off the train and your feet hurry along the platform, unused to moving in this particular way, like an untalented skier ejected from a ski lift.

A few minutes into this perambulation, you begin to understand that you are going to have to suffer through the two-train subway ride home while trying to push an overwhelming urge to vomit out of your esophagus. You kind of cry. The lingering taste of the free gourmet potato chips and pomegranate-flavored vodka martinis you consumed for the last three hours hangs stubbornly in your mouth. I can do this. Just keep moving.


It had snowed that day. Well, it had iced. Me and my fellow graduate writing students at Sarah Lawrence had fought through delayed trains, unplowed snowdrifts, and ice pellets that caused minor facial lacerations to get to our morning classes, after which we were informed that the rest of the day's classes were cancelled. Most students left for the comfort of their sofas, calling taxis to get them back to the train station. My friend Melissa and I had meetings with our professors, though, and had to stay on campus. So we decided that we'd get a drink up in Bronxville as soon as our meetings were over (we had originally planned to go to a poetry reading that night, but the poet was stuck in Virginia, airports closed because of the storm). We had nothing better to do that night.

We got a cab to downtown Bronxville, entered "the fancy place" in town, and ordered two fancy drinks at the bar. We were the only customers and the only women in the restaurant. The handlebar-mustachioed bartender and the Italian owner took a shine to us and brought us chicken dumplings on the house. Around 6:30, during our second round, the couples started arriving, women in turtlenecks clutching single roses wrapped in cellophane followed by men with slicked back hair and expensive overcoats, here for an indulgent Valentine's Day dinner. Here we go, we said, and rolled our eyes.

Melissa and I laughed and clinked our glasses, happily slipping into the minority of the clientele. We didn't need an expensive dinner with an expensive guy, just expensive drinks and good conversation with a like-minded writer chick. We were on a date with our new lives. It was the best Valentine's Day I'd had in a long time. Maybe ever.

Until the train part.


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