Standing, waiting, wishing for the train to come after work today, I tapped my heel in frustration. Why does mass transit in Manhattan come to a stammering halt when there is even the smallest trickle of water outside?
There are always delays with rain for the MTA, and though I know this, it never fails to irritate me. Sometimes as I’m impatiently pacing the platform, I dream of the days when I could just hop in my car, drive myself home while poorly singing along to the radio with the wind whipping through my hair, and not having to depend on anything but my gas tank to get me from the office to my bed. But then I think how the city looks – even from the streets – in rush hour traffic and I count the simple blessing of a MetroCard.
Nevertheless, with my feet soaking wet and lugging around a gym bag and a purse that’s obnoxiously large for a 5’4″ petite woman, all I wanted to do was zone out, listen to guilty-pleasure playlists on my iPod and arrive at my stop promptly. After five minutes or so of glancing at the arrival screen, casually returning flirty glances with a foreign straphanger and triple-checking that I had my wallet, keys and phone, I heard the announcement I dread: Signal delays are affecting train service, no express service uptown, thank you.
Without the threat of bar soap or penalties for my actions, I let one-four letter word that rhymes with luck (yet is the opposite of it) slip out of my mouth…several times.
I immediately bowed my head and avoided eye contact with anyone around me, while praying the little girl near me didn’t hear my profanity. I casually walked to the other side of the station, feeling guilty for cursing. It was one of my personal commitments after all – I vowed to never let New York change me into the stereotypical, angry city person who casually dropped the Fbomb in every day conversations. I didn’t want to lose any of that sweet Southern charm or dispose of the class I was brought up believing in. My mother always reminded me that a lady’s language doesn’t include “naughty” words of any form, so if I wanted to be treated with respect, I best respect that advice.
But ya know – New York has a way of making profanity sound eloquent. You’re having a great night out with your friends, sharing champagne and appetizers with the streets buzzing within your view, sometimes there is no better way to describe what you’re feeling than f***ing brilliant. Or when the city gives you these amazing nights, these moments that blow any elegant event North Carolina can serve up. I thought for the longest time that interjecting prohibited words into my vocabulary would make me less attractive and would come across as crass – but really, it’s just part of growing up. And frankly, it’s part of New York.
So I lifted my head up high and straightened out the black dress I was sporting – another rule I broke. A few months after I moved, my friend J said I needed more black in my wardrobe, to which I replied: “I love color! I don’t want to be like every other boring New Yorker that wears one shade.” I thought the same thing about my friend K before she was my friend, when she was still a figment of Mr. Unavailable’s imagination before he became Mr. Possibility – she is proud of her dark closet and the dress I happened to wear today is a K Exclusive Hand-Me-Down. Turns out, just like dirty words aren’t as dirty but can be insightful, black isn’t as black as I thought, but rather reliable, sophisticated and rather sexy.
I’ve ditched my sugary phrases for words that have more of an impact, my flowery high-waisted skirts for sleek, fitted, stylish pieces that give me an extra shine – and I’m not ashamed, I thought as the train arrived, finally. As I went to step up, a woman in a hurry pushed me into the side of the cart, spilling her bottled water all over my outfit, and there that word came again, but instead of shying away from it, I let it slide:
Fuck, my dress!
She noticed what she did and turned around quickly and responded in true Manhattan fashion: Fuck, honey. I’m sorry! Let me get you somethin’. I shooed her away while thanking her for her concern but a little spill never hurt anyone, and really there’s nothing else she could get me – I’ve finally accepted my New York skin.