You Look Nice Tonight, That’s All



Prospect Heights, 11238

Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Park Slope

A friend told me recently, at a small dinner party at her and her husband’s brownstone, that she’d once been throttled on the subway. The train car, she said, was packed. For balance, she raised both arms into the air and held onto the metal bar above. A man stood behind her, she said, and placed his hands on either side of her hands like book ends and started rubbing his cock on the side of her ass, up and down. At this point in the story my friend, Miranda, stood up and gyrated her skinny hips at the table to give us all an idea of how the man rubbed his cock on her ass. She said the man had an erection.

“I thought, ‘Are you really doing that?’” she said. We all laughed. “I was stunned” she said. “I immediately looked around for someone I could reach out to and ask for help and I saw a you-kind-of-man,” she said, pointing her finger at me.

“What do mean by that?” I said, “That I look like a nice, harmless man?”

“No,” she said. Her husband David laughed. “I meant that you’re a well-dressed, approachable looking man….”

I could tell that she was choosing her words carefully. “Thank you,” I said.

“Anyway,” she said, “I walked up to the man, the older approachable-looking man, and I said, ‘Excuse me, sir? There’s a man over there rubbing himself against me.’” Miranda paused and took a sip of her wine. Margo and I and Miranda’s husband David waited for her to take her drink. “And this guy looked at me, looked over at the guy behind me who was rubbing up against me, and he got this confused, stupid look on his face and he said, ‘It’s a full train, what are you gonna do?’”

Margo made a shocked-looking face, her mouth and eyes wide open. It’s the kind of story other woman appreciate much more than men. “The guy had no idea what I was talking about,” Miranda said throwing her arms into the air as if she were tossing confetti onto the dining table.

“What a creep!” Margo said.

“I know,” Miranda said. The women were bonding. David and I were silent. I looked at him and said, loud enough so the women thought I was addressing them too, “It’s a shame men don’t ever get to see other men doing stuff like that. If we ever got the opportunity to watch ourselves misbehave I bet men’s behavior, in general, would start to change.” Neither of the women responded to this. David said nothing. He was flushed in the face from too much wine and he tipped back in his chair twirling the corkscrew around his finger.

“What did you do?” Margo asked Miranda. It was, at this point, a two-person conversation.

“Well, a forty-something year old black woman heard what I said to the clueless guy and moved in, basically forcing herself right between me and the clueless guy. She had a suitcase on rollers that she managed to move halfway across this tightly-packed subway car and put her arm around me in a protective, motherly way and she said out loud so that the entire subway car could hear her, ‘That man over there rubbed himself up against you?’”

“That’s what you have to do to men who do that,” Margo said.

“You shamed him!” I said.

Miranda looked at me and nodded her head. “A hush passed over the subway car and everyone started stirring and looking in this guy’s direction,” she said, “A riot mentality spread through the car. The guy moved toward the door at the rear of the car and stood with his head lowered facing the window.”

“That’s a big thing in Japan,” Margo said, “men rubbing themselves up against schoolgirls on the way to school.”

“I read an article about that,” I said and then fell silent thinking about all those Japanese men who apparently shoot their semen onto schoolgirl’s uniforms and how, according to the articles I’ve read, that that’s a semi-normal occurrence in Japan. What does that say about Japan, as a culture? What would it mean if it was totally acceptable for men to rub their cocks all over strange women’s asses in public?

“Actually, the guy was Asian,” Miranda said.

“Well, there you go,” David said laughing, the corkscrew still spinning around his finger.

“Men!” I said.

“Seriously!” Miranda said.

“Oy-yoi-yoi!” Margo said.

Then, for some reason, I looked down at the worn-through hole in the crotch in my blue jeans and my flaccid penis was hanging out under the dining table. I looked up quickly towards Miranda and tried hard to look normal. She looked at me fondly, smiled and cocked her head to one side. “All I was saying was that you look nice tonight, that’s all.”


Shawn Vandor’s first book Fire At the End of the Rainbow, a collection of short essays and autobiographical writings, is due out in the Fall of 2008 from Sand Paper Press.

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