Last Wednesday, a couple of beautiful young people with smiles like high-fives and a love like a Roman candle, embarked upon an adorkable nine-hour journey through hell. It began at 14th Street in Manhattan and ended in the vast desert wasteland of the mind’s eye, their raggedy spirits trudging toward nothing on blistered feet, before finally collapsing to their knees and wailing at the endless sky “IS THERE ANYTHING MORE MADDENING THAN FOREVER?”
Worst date ever.
Of course, James Doernberg, 20, and his girlfriend (of one month) Kai Jordan, 18, didn’t agree that it was the worst date ever. Doernberg told the New York Daily News that the “nine hours just flew by,” which is the first time anyone has ever used that phrase to describe nine hours.
Both Doernberg and Jordan will be leaving New York in the fall; he, for Pomona College on the West Coast; she for Wellesley in Massachusetts. And so, what better way to while away their final weeks than by taking in the breathtaking sights that only New York City can offer: the insides of its subway stations.
Have you been to the Statue of Liberty?
No, but we have been to the South Ferry subway stop.
Have you visited the MoMA?
Not quite, but we did take a brief self-guided tour of its surrounding subway stops.
Did you go to Broadway?
Yes, of course! The famous subway stop!
Wednesday the 10th was an overcast, humid day in New York, where the temperatures above ground reached 85 Fahrenheit. Below ground, the role of the sky was played by a brick ceiling (above which: a rapidly baking street), so temperatures reached approximately nine blamillion degrees.
Picture, now, the nubile twosome, sweating like back-up dancers in a Britney video, darting in and out of dirty, rattling trains as clouds of metal dust and human skin particles blanket their pink lungs in a coating of sad, gray glitter.
At least, if they’d been visiting every SUBWAY®, they’d have gotten to go outside.
There is no resting, because you must always be poised to hop out at the next stop. (Doernberg and Jordan tried to snap their pictures and returned to the train before the doors closed at every station.) At the same time, there is nothing interesting happening because all you are doing is taking pictures of yourselves in subway stations. There is no scenery, because you’re (mostly) traveling through dark underground tunnels. There is no going back, even when, 3 hours in, it occurs to you that you’re less than halfway done, because at that point you’ve already invested a ton of time into the effort and “We visited many of Manhattan’s subway stations” is not a good story. There is no point in talking, really, because, as you realize midway into hour 5, the train is a metaphor for your life; dour-faced people trudge in and out and every once in a while you see someone and think “Hey, she’s somethin’ special; I’d like to spend a little time with her,” but, after you do spend a little time with her (all the way to 42nd St - Bryant Park), and another woman after her, and another woman after her, it’s not the uniqueness of all these creatures that registers with you, but their bland, crushing sameness. You’re going where you’re going no matter who hops along for the ride. Isn’t that disheartening?
Doernberg told the news that, for the most part, their fellow subway patrons didn’t react to the young people taking the subway, probably because young people taking the subway isn’t interesting, for neither observers nor participants.
But they had a lot of fun or, anyway, completed the task and got a cheap date out of it.
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