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A Test of Ignorance

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The #1 train skates across the tracks speeding through the local stops because of the late hour. I sit alone in the middle of the train, a book seared to my hands, headphones jammed into my ear canal, eyes in sync with the beautifully positioned text. Although I don’t look up at the doors, I know when the train has come to a halt because the vibrations pause, and the hydraulic release of the doors opening and closing rattles a metal radiator under my feet. At 1 a.m., even most New Yorkers wouldn’t ride the train because we all know crime dwells under street level. My prideful heart makes me fear only what I will do to an idiot if he interrupts my reading.

59thStreet hits, and I glance up at the doors to my left. At first I only see a wood bench covered with soiled liquid and a wad of Starbuck’s napkins, but then she appears. She’s close to my age according to the tightness of her skin and lack of marks and scars on her face. She is draped in chocolate from scalp to toe. Her frame is strong, like a dancer mixed with a sprinter, but her legs and backside are a backyard blitz that no one can ignore. A mane of curly black hair grows down her back. What does it for me are her rich peanut buttery smooth eyes that tackle my soul as she finds her seat, across from me.

She sails down into a seat directly in front of me, and I have no idea what to do. Most people sink into the seat closest to the door when they hop onto the train, but the car we share is empty except for us two and a plastic bag hugging a half consumed orange on another row to my right. If I knew where to start, this would be the point where I formed a connection instead I freeze up because I don’t know her. I’ve never seen this particularly gorgeous creature before, but if I dig deeper into my life, I truly don’t know any women who share the same history and hue as me.

Every now and then, I peek out from my book and take a nice drink of the beauty, but she avoids all eye contact. Sometimes when I don’t have a book, magazine, or my I-pod with me, I scan every advertisement, but it’s only us two, and she acts as if I’m not there. Inside a warm rage starts to grow out of my heart because girls who carry the same beauty made growing up unbearable. It is not her fault, but the remains of teasing and built up frustration from my so called sistas still dwells inside my heart and makes me a bitter black man.

Forty years ago, all it would take was a warm smile and a nice complement to break the ice with a girl, and it didn’t matter if it was a packed train, or a hectic department store, people were simpler and much more honest. I sometimes wish I’d been born in the 60’s because my parents instilled old school manners and respect into me, which most girls don’t expect or accept from guys anymore. This girl deserves it though. I come to a conclusion in my heart: Black, White, Latina, or Asian, it doesn’t matter because a woman is a woman. A man who takes a step towards her without fear will be one step closer to success, even if he believes he will fail.

I peer around her head and look at the station we were speeding out of. 86thstreet, so my stop was next. I’d probably never see this late night goddess on the train again, but I wanted to make a connection. My book is a mid size paper back that you could carry in your hands without the aid of a bag, but if dropped, it would make a loud noise. As I stand up, I pull my bookmark out of my back pocket but at the same time, I let my hand holding the book go limp. The book rolls off my middle finger and goes flying into the seat next to her. Her eyes turn from me to the book that slipped out of my hand, and what happens next is exactly what I needed.

“Oh I’m so sorry,” I say.

Before she says anything, she grabs the book, quickly skims the title on the front cover: Real Men Do Yoga, followed by, “Do real men do Yoga?” with a slight chuckle of possibility under her breath.





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