Those English-immersion classes didn’t cover this.

Union Square subway, 5:30pm. Very much rush hour. An African musician is playing one of those combination drum-strings-gourd type instruments and singing. A 50-something man (who I baselessly speculate is a European tourist) is dancing in a sprightly way that doesn’t exactly go with the music. I realize he is being videotaped by a female companion.
At some point –I must have blinked– I realize he is on the ground. Did he fall? Sit? Do a somersault? Doesn’t matter. He thinks it is hilarious. He rolls around a bit, not even minding the guy that has to basically jump over him to avoid a collision.

As the music continues, the man takes off his leg –he’s an amputee!– and begins to strum it like a ukelele. At this point, a middle-age couple approach me to ask for directions. Their English is basic. I offer to walk them to the appropriate exit, as it is also mine.

As we stroll, I ask “did you see that guy dancing?” They affirm. “Funny guy!” Yes, smiling agreement. I said, “Did you see him take off his leg?” Incomprehension. I repeat myself. No good. I gesture to my knee, making a sawing motion. “He took off his leg. His leg!” They start speaking to each other in confusion. I stopped them and said, “No, you understood me correctly. Your English is good. It’s a VERY WEIRD thing for me to say. Don’t worry about it. It’s New York. Have a good day.”


About amywinns

Semi-snarky, semi-sincere, occasionally ranting, always paying attention. Feminist who can work a skirt and crack a joke. Grammar nerd who is also fun at parties. Mid-career writer/editor with 15 years’ experience in newspapers & magazines who now helps developers at a major media corporation communicate with the suits who write the checks. Pro-women, pro-family, pro-choice, pro-workingclass, pro-entrepreneur, pro-farmer. Like every other bourgeois Brooklynite, I choose local/organic/raw food — mostly vegetables — whenever possible/reasonable/affordable but I’m not a smug asshole about it. Hometown: Atlanta. Weird hobby: lindy hop. No pets, no kids, no thanks.
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