by Beth T.
I ended a somewhat fruitful day of running errands by boarding my trusty number 6 train to take me back home. Upon entering the train, I was immediately confronted with the backside view of balls of flame destroying some kind of planetscape on a very old pair of boxers, seemingly from childhood. Once I sat down, I noticed another individual in front of me, dressed appropriately for a cold winter’s day except for the fact that he was wearing lime green boxers with red ladybugs on them. As I pulled out my book, thoughts raced my mind: `These individuals must know each other…why aren’t they talking to one another? What are the odds of 2 men (or women) wearing boxers not only on the same train, not only in the same car, but right next to each other? Were they part of some athletic running polar bear club?’ As they moved around the train, constantly drawing attention to themselves, it became apparent SOMETHING was going on.
At this point, I tried hard to stop a slow and ever-widening grin from spreading across my face, excited with anticipation. Soon, I heard “anyone need some pants? Pants for a $1”. `Sheer lunacy’, I thought. Now, things were getting interesting – I closed my book and looked to my left. Two more men were wearing boxers. I was delighted as I realized a piece of performance art was unveiling itself before my eye. `How exciting – this is what gives NYC its flavor.’ As the men started to put on their pants, a bystander (obviously born and raised in New York) started to complain, and LOUDLY! His aggressive, ultra typical New York manner made the scene ever so more interesting. While most passengers were amused by the frivolity of this show, this man was not. Amazingly enough, he was truly offended at having to watch grown men put their pants on (latent homosexual tendencies?) He failed to see the innocence or charm of the scene. I marveled at the fact that after 9/11, this city could use all the joviality it could muster and this man was actually trying to suppress some of it. His verbal abuse towards the group was astounding.
After his threat to call this cops, I could take no more. I burst out, “Listen, obviously this is a piece of performance art or what’s called `a happening'”. He retorted with a comment that “this crap should be done at the Met(ropolitan Opera House)”. I shot back “the Met is the wrong kind of place for these pieces to be done. They are meant to be done in public spaces, like the subway or the park.” Of course, since I had defended the group, he labeled me as a sicko who liked to look at men in their boxers (which is illegal because…?). After this altercation, I withdrew from the conversation, disgusted. One of the guys gave me the group’s card. Upon receipt, I asked if they ever needed a designer (I’m a lighting designer), and could I email them my resume. This immediately invited more comments from the man who called me `a sicko, just like the rest of them’. After the group left the train, me and a few other passengers discussed what just occurred – all exhilarated by the show. Thank goodness for Improv Everywhere for making life and travel a little more interesting.