I have not done this in many months, I don’t think. It’s been long enough since I did this that I might find that this email-to-website thing does not even work anymore. Sitting in a coffee shop, pecking into a portable keyboard. This means of writing leaves me wide open to typos, but I’m ok with that. This is the old.MOBI format, my favorite website ever, maybe. Or maybe not. I appreciated the intimacy and immediacy of posting to the website via email. I feel similarly about creating audio content via the telephone. It is a different spark, a different crackle of the mind. Payphone Radio survives but I no longer create audio for it. I’m working on other things. I had nothing to prove by doing the calls-from-payphones format for the rest of my life. but even if I thought I did the paucity of phones available, and the oft-times sketchy areas where they are found, make continuing the project in its original format unrealistic. I know of 5 working payphones in Astoria and surrounding environs. Actually 2 of them are not really what I’d call Astoria. They are at the Queensbridge Houses. I used one of those phones some months ago. According to the Citizen app there was, on what sounds like that exact spot, a completely random stabbing. Citizen can often be incorrect with these reports, and I never saw any reportage of anything like anywhere online. So it may have been a false report. But I don’t care. I’d been warned by a few people who would know that me entering that area just to check on the payphones was reckless. Or maybe I’m just being a wuss. Whatever the case it’s not necessary to take a lot of risks in my payphone pursuits. Two of the other phones are in bars, one at O’Hanlon’s up Ditmars way, the other at Kelly’s Bar on Crescent. I don’t do bars anymore but the occasion to meet up with a friend who I’ve seen very little of since Quarantine made a bar visit seem more inviting. He was my guard. Hah. Turned out the vibe at Kelly’s was pretty good. It felt like a normal bar, not the Twilight Zone, as that place has often been described. The phone there is in a good-sized old wood booth, and the owner of the place seemed to take some pride in it. The phone at O’Hanlon’s is housed in a coffin-sized booth, too small for even a mild claustrophobic. The bar phones are not what I would call “public.” They are semi-public, and using them makes incoming calls to the bar impossible. You don’t really want to use those unless you absolutely have to. That leaves the Doomsday Payphone, as it came to be called by one of my YouTube channel subscribers. I am friends with the owner of that one, and have kept a bemused on it for a long time now. I don’t really know why he keeps that phone alive but he does. It can only return hobby money by now, or else the satisfaction of making a working public communication device available. But you know what? I did not sit down here today intending to deliver a payphone reckoning. Nothing like that at all. I wanted to summarize my experiences, or rather lack of experiences, with a woman I see on the train most mornings. Since about 3 weeks ago we have boarded the same train through the same door, and transferred from that train to another, almost every single day. Suddenly it’s like we are travel buddies, but no words have been spoken. Through a mix of kismet and what could be called predatory stalker-esque behavior I know far more about her than she should have any reason to even speculate. She covers herself almost completely, wearing a winter cap and a face covering that exposes only her eyes. Once in a while she takes off a glove so she can type on her phone but mostly all I know of (officially) is her body type and her eyes. She is not Muslim or a Hijab wearer. This is just her style of masking up. By kismet I spotted her exiting the house in which she lives. I noted the street address, looked it up, and through the magic of those smarmy people-finder sites I summoned her name, age, and from there I was ushered into her world of art and intrigue. She goes to work every workday on Wall Street but it seems her real ambitions are in fine art photography, NFTs, writing poetry and prose, and establishing herself as a creative artist. She wears a nose ring, has ample tattoo coverage on her arms, legs, and left foot. She has smaller tats elsewhere, as well. She is beautiful but my interest in her has no whiff of pursuit or anything approaching desire. I just like to who my neighbors are, even ephemerally passing neighbors who sit near me for probably about 10 minutes a day. It is a signal of what the facemask era has wrought, I think. I see a punctual and seemingly committed office worker hustling to work on Wall Street every day, her features and visual personality characteristics mostly invisible. Underneath all that covering is a woman with a bit of a rebel streak, not to mention a whole boatload of talent. Through the magic of things I know all this, having never said a word in her direction. I had imagined she thought I was staking her out. I like to think I “make myself available” in this sort of context. I don’t pursue. I let a woman like this come to me, perhaps, or else find a way to reveal my identity to her without what (for me) feels like an unspeakably terrifying act: Saying hello. We have made eye contact. She looks at me. I mostly look away from her. Her eyes are beautiful. What little of her body I’ve seen in person looks better than what is online. She has extensive presence on social media, though her comments are mostly opaque, and airy. She has a journal portion of her website. Some of the titles to those postings, and the postings themselves, could be interpreted as suicidal by anyone tuned in to the code that people use to avoid being seen as a risk for self harm. She looks good naked. I know because she posts artsy images of herself, not pornographic but revealing enough of her physical sweetnesses. She might be engaged but I don’t know for certain. To iterate, there is no pursuit on my part. I’m not chasing after her, and my comments about “making myself available”, now that I reconsider them, sound a little creepier than I intended. I have always had scruples about pursing women in the “make myself available” mode, even though I should not have such concerns. It’s just that it reminds me of a conversation with an attorney whose job was to defend sex offenders. He described their techniques, dismissing the stereotype that they lurk at playgrounds and schools, waiting to kidnap their prey and force them into slavery. Incidents like that are not unknown but are very rare. The common way for predators to pursue their prey is to ingratiate themselves to the family, or to friends, and basically just make themselves a part of their victim’s life. I have felt guilty of that pattern but why should I overthink it? My intentions are good. If I want to get into her pants what the hell’s wrong with that? There are no such intentions with this woman but I’ve used the approach before and it worked. I passed a woman’s house every day, sometimes 3 or 4 times, until I finally caught her as she was returning home. We were acquaintances so no ice-breaker was needed. She started the conversation and within weeks I was boning her right where she lived, right where I’d walked past probably hundreds of times. I think we lasted about 6 months. She was a mess but so am I. That 6 months was on-again/off-again but when it was on the sex was good, this despite the fact that finally seeing her naked was one of the great disappointments of my adult life. A beautiful face but everything underneath was shriveled and pasty. I soldiered on, though, engaging in sex of which I have virtually no memory. But my strategy of making myself available worked, and it almost worked in another instance. It is not going to work with this woman because I don’t see any way we could connect. She is half my age, which is not a problem. If you knew my romantical dalliances from the past few years you’d know that somehow I cannot seem to keep the young’uns away. I have to go now. I want to write more but I have get back to what I was doing earlier. I took today off work unexpectedly. I thought I had Covid symptoms but I tested negative. Protocol is to wait until both the rapid test and the 24-hour test are both returned, so that is what I did. I felt a fever, confusion, nad other things that align with Covid. In the end I think it was just mild food poisoning. I felt off the rest of the day but fine today. With this day off, though, I need to do more than ramble about a woman I don’t even know.
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