Two years ago, I traveled from my apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn to my friend’s apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn to meet her for a drink. Now, for those of you who don’t live in these parts, I should take a moment to explain: The commute from Bushwick, Brooklyn to Park Slope, Brooklyn takes roughly fifty-minutes, and the reason I didn’t ask my friend to split the difference and meet me half-way, is that this particular friend is in possession of two children. As I myself am childless, I do what I can to be accommodating. I do things like travel fifty-minutes to meet people at the bar next-door to their apartments.
Anyway, my friend and I drank a bottle of wine and talked a lot. It was all very nice and, after awhile, I walked back to the subway to make my way home.
This journey, when all was said and done, would take me two and a half hours in lieu of the presumed fifty minutes. Two and a half hours to travel 5.2 miles. How, you ask? And why? Because sometimes the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (a.k.a. the MTA a.k.a. the New York City subway system) behaves as though on a mission to make a person suicidal. On this particular night, I was rerouted no fewer than four times, and wound up, after two hours, in midtown Manhattan. Which is pretty much like trying to get from Florida to Virginia and, through no fault of your own, winding up in Minnesota.
Suffice it to say that by the time I hit midtown I was in a very, very, very bad mood. (My first grade teacher Mrs. Lovi taught me that you should never use the word “very” more than three times. And that, if you do, it should only be because you are the most of that thing – e.g. mad – than you have ever been in your whole entire life.) I mean, I’d already read enough of the crappy book I’d bought with me. And I couldn’t listen to music, really, as I’m one of the only people left on the planet who doesn’t have an iphone; my ’06 flip-phone is closer to accepting quarters than it is to connecting to the internet. So there I was: On a train platform in midtown Manhattan at 1am on Tuesday morning. I was very, very, very mad. And I was also very, very, very bored.
And that’s when I saw him. Or should I say her? Maybe s/him? No. I’m going with “him.” That’s when I saw him, amidst a handful of fellow commuters: The renowned New York drag king, Murray Hill.
Murray Hill is minor celebrity and downtown scene-ster: Rotund, mustachioed, frequently outfitted in ‘70s clothing. Suits, usually. Formal, usually. And, I must admit, I’ve always found him quite attractive. Quite.
Right now you’re probably going, “Whaaaaaat?” In which case, allow me to explain:
- I’ve always had this unrequited attraction to lesbians who read as male.
- I believe sexuality to be a spectrum. I consider myself to be eighty percent straight.
- The twenty percent of me that’s gay is reserved exclusively for very, very butch lesbians.
- I’ve never done anything about my twenty-percent-butch-lesbian attraction.
- I’ve always wanted to.
- I was newly single at the time of the aforementioned events.
- I’d been recently dumped.
- I was thirty-one.
- I was not feeling happy and amazing
- I was looking for, as the kids call it, “a good time.”
This, in ten easy steps, is how and why I decided to try and hit on Murray Hill.
I walked over toward him.
“Hi,” I said.
“Hello,” he said.
“I… um….” I twiddled my hair around my finger. “I, um, well, I’m like totally a fan,” I said.
Murray Hill looked at me blankly. I continued on.
“I mean, well, I have a couple friends who die for you, and they took me to see your act a couple years back, and I was like, ‘Um… hello? This guy is amazing!’”
Murray Hill continued to look at me blankly.
And that’s when I realized: It wasn’t Murray Hill. No. It was not. What it was, was just a random rotund man whose outfit – seventies-style suit; wire-rim, double-ridge glasses – was not in any way ironic.
So then I said, “Oh. I’m afraid I confused you with someone else. I’m so sorry to have bothered you!”
And then the random rotund man said, “No problem. I mean, well, the trains take forever this time of night. It’s nice to have someone to talk to.”
Well, it is simply not in my nature to ignore a random rotund man who seems nothing but pleasant. So we talked for a while. Which in the end, did make the time go faster albeit in a non-romantic, Sapphic way.
Sara Barron is the author of People Are Unappealing and the forthcoming Eating While Peeing: and other adventures.