Lost in Train-Station

A couple of weeks ago when I entered a subway car, I noticed that although there were several seats available, no one was rushing to occupy them. A quick and efficient surveillance of the two areas with vacancies revealed the reasons: one was in very close proximity to a filthy, furry, pisstinky bag person; and the other was next to two German tourists. My ride was going to be a long one, so I did not want to stand. I prefer to sit (rather than just mime doing so, as is my wont when I’m feeling whimsical) when I regard my fellow mankind with a curious blend of loathing and love. I quickly cased the joint, laughed aloud as I pronounced it “jernt” inside my head, and claimed a seat next to one of the German men. Both options stunk, but I figured I could handle figurative stink better than literal.
The Germans looked at me and instantly pictured me with a yellow Star of David stitched onto the front of my circa 1941 scratchy dark wool coat, in grainy black and white newsreel footage. I, of course, envisioned them leaving their perch and marching down the aisle in that stiff-legged formation of the Nazi Party (R.S.V.P. I send my regrets. Love to Eva!) and eating schnitzel, even though I’m not entirely sure what schnitzel is.
They looked at me and smiled at each other. They gave me pre-smiles that I did not return, which did nothing to encourage the smiles from blooming into full-fledged German grins. One of them said something that made the other one say, “Ja, ja”. They kept looking over at me out of the corners of their eyes.
I kept looking around the car to see if anyone else noticed just how much the entire car reeked of pisch. I wrinkled my nose cutely several times in response to the stench, but no one else even let on that anything was rotten in Denmark (Denmark, of course, being the subway). No one did. Not even the Germans. Then again, I thought, they’re used to the stink of worse things, like … burning flesh … from Auschwitz. So hey, what’s a little piss to them?
I knew I couldn’t stay on that car much longer, so as the train approached the next station, I stood up so that when it stopped I could dash out of the car they (and the stench) occupied (German Occupation, much?) and into an adjoining one. You see, although I am brave enough to sit next to Germans, I am not possessed of the bravado and daring required to transfer between moving subway cars.
I felt the need to explain to the Germans just why I was standing up. I looked down at them (oh, the power!) and murmured, in perfect English, with a furtive semi-smile, “My god, this train stinks. I swear that person over there must have peed in his pants,” and nodded in the direction of the pants-peer, just in case the waft wasn’t enough.
The Germans looked at me without a shred of understanding, and then at each other. “Was sagte sie?” one asked the other. “Ich weiß nicht,” the other one said. They both looked at me again with a mixture of fright and delight. And then back at each other again. They murmured between themselves. I wanted to point at the unfortunate source of the stench and say something about “pischen” and then point to my pants, but I thought it would get lost in the translation. So of course I didn’t.
The train came to a stop, and I dashed out to the platform and ran to the next car. The Germans were still looking my way. I know that for the rest of their vacation in this city, they were asking each other — over coffee, at the top of the Empire State Building, on a ferry, on a carriage ride around Central Park, eating lunch at Murray’s Sturgeon Shop, while trying on hats — “What did she say? What did she say?”
And they will always remember of their trip to New York in December 2004, the mysterious Jewess who ardently murmured what they eventually convinced themselves was, “Have breakfast with me right now, boys, and I will blow both of you.”
Sie wissen nie.