Sunday, January 12, 2014

The guy who would take the train home with me


I forgot all about this: when I was 16 I used to go to clubs all the time to see live music. I lived for it. Getting home after shows was always an obstacle. Cabs to upper Manhattan were expensive for a schoolgirl, but the subway system was not the safest in those late hours in the early1980’s, especially to the less populated ends of the lines.

Often, my boyfriend would take me home after shows, which was an act of incredible chivalry. I lived in Manhattan and he lived in Queens so in order to take me home and then get home himself, it would be a three hour ordeal. We would have to wait for an A train, then take it to the last stop. He would walk me up the hill to my home and then go back down to the A train, which was often pulling out of the station when he arrived. He would have to then wait for the next train to arrive, hang out at the last stop and then venture back downtown. Once there, he would have to take the cross town shuttle to the 7 and then take the 7 to the last stop in Queens. The trains ran on an incredibly slow schedule in those wee hours of 2, 3, or 4 a.m. so each connection involved lots of waiting on quiet platforms for unknown amounts of time. Once he got off of the 7 train he would have to catch a bus to his home. The bus schedule was independent of the train schedule and most nights it was pulling away as he reached the top of the subway stairs that let him onto the street. The next bus would come in another hour. Fuck.

All of that lead to us finding many creative solutions and to his getting a car as soon as possible. I remember all of that clear as a bell.

The part that I forgot was that there were 2 cool guys in my neighborhood. I had not thought of either of them in years. They were both a little older than me and liked bands and went to shows downtown. One wore a motorcycle jacket and a Motorhead tee shirt in 1981. I used to watch him walk by. I knew he was different, like me, and that made me happy. We barely spoke a word to each other but he was there and that was great.

The other guy was just plain cool. He would accompany me home on the train when we were at the same show and even walk me up the deserted hill once we got off of the train. He acted like a big brother for no other reason than that we lived in the same neighborhood and like some of the same bands.

One time I went out to Staten Island to see the Dead Kennedys at the Paramount, July 31, 1981. After the show a riot broke out as all the punks came out of the theatre and all of the locals took that as a reason to fight. My boyfriend was looking at a 5 hour ordeal to get me home and then get himself home. First we had to get to the Staten Island Ferry but there were people looking to beat up punks on every corner.

Somehow out of the blue my friend from my neighborhood appeared. He had a friend with a car and was getting a lift. He did not have to stop and invite me but he did. I hopped into the overcrowded car full of mostly strangers, and squished onto some one’s lap.  I knew it was safe and that they just wanted to help me get home. My boyfriend kissed me goodbye and miraculously found another car making its way back to Queens. We drove into the night as sirens blared and fights broke out and cops busted in heads and broke things up.

Back before cell phones we all had this radar. You could find your friends in a crowded city. You could find your peeps when you were in need. Things had a way of working out. Thank you, buddy. 

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