The other day on the 6 train downtown, I sat across from a woman whose shrunken face and whopping height of 3’2″ made it obvious that she was 180 years old. Her eyes contained centuries of wisdom, but apparently, none of that wisdom pertained to how to act on a New York City subway.
At first, all she did was eat sunflower seeds – so many sunflower seeds. I was wondering what she was doing with the shells; they seemed to disappear as soon as she spat them out, which, quite honestly, I was thankful for. Then, I turned to my right, where I spotted a gaggle of young, Italian tourists all staring in the general direction of the old woman with their mouths agape. Clearly, something of note was going on with her – and it turned out to be the most disgusting act I’ve ever seen on the subway (and I was born and raised here).
The old woman had removed her dentures, leaving a puckered, anus-like hole in place of the normal-looking mouth she’d just had, and was proceeding to suck and lick her dentures clean. I honestly didn’t even know what to do with myself besides continue to stare at her, trying to figure out how to make sense of this horrific display.
It was then that I caught the eye of a younger gentleman, who broke into a big grin and whispered to me, “Disgusting, just disgusting,” in a thick accent, referring to our friend, the immortal pig. Turning to my left, I saw that a middle-aged man was absolutely dying with silent laughter; tears were rolling down his face as he tried to contain himself. The Italian tourists got in on the fun, too, as did a beautiful young teenager who was, unfortunately, sitting right next to the old woman as she worked her dentures like this was her last meal for the next six months. We all grinned at each other, totally horrified but bonding through mutual disgust.
At long last, we arrived at my stop, and I got off the train, both utterly scarred and glowing with the satisfaction I get from having real, human interactions with strangers on the subway. We may have the weirdest people in the world living here, but damn, do I love this city.