The Super Down the Block: He Reads

by

12/08/2006

3rd Ave. & E. 18th St., NY, NY 10003

Neighborhood: Gramercy Park

Monday Night Football and the Greenwich Village Packer haunt, the Kettle of Fish, is heaving. There are orgasmic spurts of happiness as the Packers recover four interceptions in the first half. Seattle’s fair weather fans are distraught as the Pack dominates in the heavy snowfall. Brett wants this one. You can see the fire burning in his eyes. And he deserves to win. But in the end Shaun Alexander runs all over the Packer’s poor defense and we lose a heartbreaker in Latteland.

The next morning I trudge down my street with an aching head. I need a coffee and an orange juice. The obese sexually ambiguous superintendent who takes care of the building at the end of the block is wearing a worn Green Bay Packer shirt.

“Did you see the game last night?” I ask. The super looks puzzled. He is a little slow, and I don’t mean the glacier speed at which he sweeps the sidewalk. Of course, he is just wearing a shirt. It’s not a badge of honor.

“What game?” he says.

“Never mind.”

“Hey Matt, can I borrow a dollar for the train?”

Once a week the super asks to borrow a dollar for the train. The subway costs two bucks, but he only ever needs a dollar. Every week I give him one. Today I say, “Get your own goddamn dollar for the train.”

I feel terrible. But it passes. Back home I write about the encounter.

A day later the super is still sweeping the sidewalk in the same spot. He stops me.

“I read what you wrote,” he says.

“What?”

“What you wrote about me on your blog.”

“How the hell did you read that?”

“I did a search, a while ago, ya know, one of those search engine things on the Internet. I typed ‘East 18th Street NYC’ into Google and it came up.”

“Oh.”

“I’ve been reading NYC Scribbles for about a year.”

“Oh boy.”

“I thought we had a nice community here. A nice block.”

“Yeah. We do.”

“You know, that wasn’t very nice.”

“Huh?”

“What you wrote about me. That wasn’t very nice.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I don’t borrow a dollar every week.”

“I know. I felt bad and I was trying to be funny.”

“I’m gonna pay you back.”

“I know.”

“I’m not slow.”

“I know.”

“I read books. But I’m not gonna read your books.”

“Okay.”

“Why did you write that?”

“Why?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“I don’t know. It is kinda what I do. I need to write to feel I’m worth something.”

“So what you do is make up things about people to be funny so you feel better about yourself?”

“Sort of.”

“I don’t like you anymore.”

“Yeah. I understand.”

I turn to leave.

“Hey, can I have that dollar for the train?”

I give him a twenty. It is all I have.

“Thanks,” The super says. “And Matt?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m a boy. But most days I wish I was a girl.”

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