We introduce a variant on the On Board theme today: the profile, in which the writer makes up shit about a person. Take someone on the subway and give them a life. Any life. Happy dreaming.
Sept. 6, 2:22 p.m.
Q Train – Times Square to 7th Avenue
In a train with 14 people (it’s a weekend, and who needs an express on the weekends), I’m sitting directly across from an elderly man of indistinct ethnic origin. He appears as likely to be Hispanic, Arab, Turkish, and Italian. The brown rosary beads cascading from ring to middle to index fingers, and finally to thumb, suggest the first or last in that list.
We’ll go with Armenian.
His skin has is dirt worn from days working a Halaal stand on 45th and 7th. His eyes, one (the left) opening slightly wider than the other, display a tired curiosity. He’s seen a lot, during his youth in Yerevan, on the trip to Chicago with his parents, his dad’s mangled right foot from the slaughterhouse, and then anything and everything he’s seen in New York for the past 30 years.
His salt and pepper mustache is well groomed and his limited supply of hair is gelled back to cover his hair like lines on a parking lot. Despite all this – maybe it’s his nose – he maintains a regal look. He’s proud. Of his children, one of whom works with him at the cart, the other, his daughter, about to graduate from CUNY. Starting a family may have been the most tiring part of his life. It still doesn’t quite feel normal to be wearing black sneakers with a giant Nike swoosh, the one’s his son wears, and his grandson just bought. Maybe one day – he hasn’t been back to Armenia – it will.