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Park Bench by Ray Printer Friendly

Usually, I would just link back to this original post, but when I finally tracked it down tonight, I saw that it was all ate up with spam-bots, so I'm just going to re-post it, and delete the original.

I had family visiting over the weekend, and this story came up. My sister, who gets entirely too much joy from my horrible luck, insisted that I email the link to this page (well, the original, but whatever) to other family members, so that they, too, could enjoy my ill fate.


Photo courtesy of Trey.


I’m going to tell you a story right now. It happened a while back, and I’ve never gotten around to writing about it. Surprisingly, I have also failed to tell this story to a number people in my life. So pull up a chair, pour yourself a drink, and smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

Like I said, it happened a while back: sometime in 2003, I’m guessing, because I was living in NYC, but it was before the existence of The Strangelands. I was dating my princess, but we were still in our beginning stages, and I’m not sure she was convinced she was going to marry me.

I worked at Circuit City on 14th Street, Union Square Park, and I had just finished some stupid-long shift, with a hangover that had obnoxiously refused to fade away like it was supposed to.

It was evil hot, or what people in New York call “a nice day.” I stepped out of the air conditioned hell that was my job, only to be immediately assaulted by the familiar “streets of New York” smell which can only be attained in an NYC summer, or—should you ever wish to simulate—by boiling a pile of urine-marinated garbage for several hours on your oven range. I hadn’t yet learned to wear street clothes to work, so I was still dressed in my khaki pants and my too-tight white undershirt. The logo-emblazoned polo shirt had been stripped off as soon as the time card was punched.

My feet were killing me, and I had that deep down fatigue that you get from either working or playing entirely too hard. When you feel like that, it’s generally a sign of pushing yourself to the limits, and it’s never a good sign. My princess worked at the same place, and she was due to get off in an hour, which meant I had a little time to kill. I walked to the Walgreen’s on the corner and bought a couple of those stupid bottled frappuccino things. There were three different Starbucks’ around that park, but they were all closed. I needed cold caffeine, and those frappuccino things have always seemed to do the trick for me, as long as I chug them real quick.

The next item of business was finding a place to sit. Benches are in high demand in warm weather, and I wasn’t comfortable sitting in the grass—it was too dark to see what I’d be sitting in, and although dog shit is pretty disgusting to sit in, there are worse things awaiting the unsuspecting in an NYC park. I made a few laps around the park, and finally saw a couple get up from a bench. I was quick to take it.

I knocked back one of the coffees and was opening the second when a lady sat down beside me. She was kind of fat, but not so terribly obese that she couldn’t sit comfortably beside me, so I paid her no mind.

She sat quietly as I removed the plastic from the lid of my coffee. I decided to hold off chugging the second one—I didn’t want to get a caffeine jolt so big that it would cause me to be queasy on the subway ride home. Things like that aren’t generally a problem, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when you’re recovering from an all day hangover and you’re exhausted.

The lady beside me chuckled a little. She chuckled a little more. I assumed she was listening to a portable music player, maybe listening to a comedian or something, and continued to ignore her.

Then she started talking. I didn’t pay attention to what she was saying, modifying my assumption that it was a music player to the assumption that she was on a cell phone. Wireless headsets were just getting big, and I had already fallen victim to the old, “answer the person on a cell phone and then look like an idiot,” routine.

She chatted a little, laughed, and then chatted a little more. I was about to doze off when she suddenly jerked her head my way. “I walked all the way from 86th Street.”

“That’s…that’s a long ways.”

“It is.” She jerked her head back around, facing front. I rubbed my eyes a little, checked the time.

“I was buying porn.”

See, this is why people like me shouldn’t really go to places like New York. Good sense is constantly overridden my curiosity. The intelligent thing to do at this point would have been to just stand up and walk away. I go, “Oh?”

“Yep. Porn. They got all the good porno down there.”

“Oh. I’ll have to remember that.”

“Yeah. I gotta walk ‘cause I don’t take the subways anymore.”

“Ah.”

“I mean, I still can, I just don’t. They used to let you flash your titties down there, but now it’s against the law.”

“I did not know that.”

“I love to flash my titties.”

“Everyone needs a hobby, I guess.”

“What?”

“Nothin’.”

“They voted that you can get arrested for doing stuff like that on the subway. Like public exposure or something. So I just don’t ride ‘em anymore.”

Because of my polite upbringing, I used to find it very hard to ignore people, or even fight the urge to look away from them when they spoke. My first instinct is to look at the speaker, so I had actually been looking into this woman’s face while she spoke.

She was nuts. Sometimes people will just pretend to be crazy to yank your chain—I ran into a few of those guys in that same park—but this lady really had a couple of fuses missing, and you could tell that they were probably pretty important fuses.

I turned away from her and stared at the ground, hoping to end conversation.

“I hate my mother,” she said. She waited a few seconds for me to bite, but when I just sat in silence, she continued. “She’s such a bitch. My shrink, too. He told her that I was trying to fuck him. I was, too. He shouldn’t have told my mother, though. He wanted to fuck me, until I told him that sometimes I planned on killing my mother. He told her that, too. I hate ‘em both.”

She was working herself up pretty good by this time, talking junkie-fast, although I didn’t get the impression that she was high. Just batshit crazy. At this point, I was actually thinking about getting up, but my feet were still killing me, and I was just so damn tired.

“Where you from?” She asked.

“Texas.”

She laughed. “That’s why you talk that way. I like it.”

“Thanks.”

“What’d you do in Texas? Just ride horses all day?”

“No, I had a job.”

“I’m from Long Island. You been there?”

“Nope.”

“Don’t go. It’s hell. I swear, it’s hell. I’m serious. That’s where my mother lives. I live out there with her, it sucks. I hate it. I’d kill myself. I’m only in town to see my shrink. My mother…hey!”

I had been keeping half an eye on her with my peripheral vision, and I had seen her moving, but I hadn’t seen what she was up to. She wasn’t making any sudden moves, and she wasn’t getting any closer to me, so I figured I was safe.

I was wrong.

When she yelled “hey” in the middle of her sentence, I quickly turned and looked at her. She was leaning back against the back of the bench, her arms resting on the top of the bench back, her shirt lifted up, exposing her gargantuan breasts. No bra.

They were not attractive breasts.

They were frightening breasts.

And I don’t say things like that lightly, because you gotta have some seriously scary titties for me to shy away from them.

I looked back down at my coffee. She sat in silence for a while, unmoving. I could tell by the expressions of passer-bys that she still had her shirt up. I drank half of my coffee down and checked the time. I had about twenty minutes or so to kill.

I looked around for another bench, but they were all still full. I saw a few people looking at me and the crazy lady.

“I really like fire, too,” she said.

“Can you put your shirt down?”

“Why? Does it bother you?”

“I just don’t feel like continuing this conversation with your shirt like that.”

“You shy?”

“No.”

“Why don’t you look at me?”

“Because I don’t feel like it.”

“I told you I liked to flash my titties.”

“Yes, you did.”

At this point, two women walked by. They were young and attractive. This shouldn’t matter, but if you’re a guy, you understand that humiliation is always increased by a factor of fifty if there is a young, attractive woman to witness it.

The one nearest me raised an eyebrow in question. I shrugged and kind of shook my head, indicating something like, “Don’t ask me, man—I have no idea.”

Apparently, the crazy lady saw, and apparently, she didn’t approve. She yanked her shirt down and leaned forward on the bench. Then she screamed at the two passing women.

“He’s my son, and we fuck!”

I gulped down the remainder of my coffee, dropped the bottle in the trashcan, stood up, and walked away.

I heard her yelling, but I couldn’t tell what she was saying, and I have no idea if she was talking to me, the women, or herself. At that point, I don’t think it mattered.



That night, as we rode the subway home, I told the story to my princess. I was amazed, shocked, horrified. She just nodded.

“You don’t seem nearly as rattled by this story as I thought you would be,” I told her.

“Well, I’ve got that guy in my neighborhood, the one that sits on the corner.”

“What guy?”

“I never told you about the Vaseline guy?”

“Nuh-uh.”

“He just sits there all day with his penis out, rubbing Vaseline on it.”

“You always gotta outdo me.”


originally posted 6/13/07

ORIGINAL COMMENTS

Entered By Leslie From Texas

2007-06-13 17:45:41

You know, I know I should be thinking, "Poor Ray, why does this kind of thing ALWAYS happen to him." But this morning, after fishing socks out of the toilet (your youngest nephew can finally get the seat up), cleaning smelly garbage off the back porch (neighbor's dog found the trash sack) and then FINALLY sitting down to work, I'm all out of compassion. In fact, I even smiled a bit, thinking, "At least that didn't happen to me today." So thanks for taking one for the team, Ray. The crazy crap that happens to you makes my life a little more sane. And for the record, that story just gets better every time I hear it.


Entered By PAM From Unknown

2007-06-13 18:32:51

Honey, I told you "Come home!" if weird stuff happened to you in NYC. What is your classification scale??? Well, you did eventually come back to Texas, and thank goodness you brought your princess with you! *Sigh* Some things a mother is better off not knowing. . . Love you- Your real mom


Entered By Ray From Austin

2007-06-13 21:53:28

My mother posted a comment on The Strangelands...somewhere, there are some very confused pigs floating about.


Entered By Mary S. From Texas

2007-06-13 21:58:14

Ray, You make me laugh!!! I kept laughing and Laurie wanted to know what the hell I was doing. My response "Ray and New York". Say hi to your princess for me.


Entered By Leslie From Texas

2007-06-13 22:07:36

Okay, so obviously I e-mailed this story to a few people who normally might not visit The Strangelands. They enjoyed it though -- how could they not? Besides it's really your fault for teaching me how to link and of course, Trey's, for not adding that little "E-mail This Article" thing to the website (although, he had been drinking a bit when we discussed it.) Now I've turned into a link-junkie.

re-posted 5/25/09


Comments:
Entered By Karen From Indiana
2009-05-26 03:34:46

That's a good park bench photo. I'll bet Trey wishes he had been there to get the one that went with the story, huh? Now THAT would have been a good photo.


Entered By Ray From Austin
2009-05-28 15:00:32

I wish he had been there, too. To draw her attention away from me. I am not above sacrificing my friends for my own well-being. And yeah, the photo IS good. I hassle him all the time to take more, but he whines that his pictures were only good because he was in New York.


Entered By Leslie From Texas
2009-05-29 18:12:11

Still a classic...



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