It’s Shakespeare in the Park time again, and, as seems to be turning into a tradition, we once again put of getting our free tickets until the second-to-last possible day. Which means that instead of idly wandering into line at, say, 11:30 some Tuesday afternoon to receive them at 1:00, I got into line at 4:00am on Saturday morning. Slept on the sidewalk. Knitted some gloves. Read almost an entire novel. Endured fratboys pretending to be homeless to my right; endured pretending that I couldn’t smell the real homeless man to my left.
So, first, to set the scene: I show up at 4am. It’s still dark out, and a little chilly. I get into line. I’m probably 20th or so from the front. Just in front of me is a group of young (college-aged) cute kids, a little indy, a little hipster. Two adorable skinny gay boys and a girl in a little hoodie. They’re playing Boggle and keep making jokes about being gay. In front of them is a homeless guy with giant 4-foot-long dreads that he is wearing inside what appears to be, literally, a pillowcase that has just been cinched tight around his head and is hanging down his back. Some dude gets in line behind me, totally unprepared: no blanket, no chair, no coffee, no food, no book, no friends, no cards. Standing. Poor bastard can’t possibly last. More people get in line behind him. After a while the poor bastard does leave, leaving a three-foot space between me and the couple who were behind him.
I kept a running log of my day:
Drunk couple stumbling home. Girl laughts that bitchy high-pitched “Nyerdsss!”-laugh as she says, of the group playing Boggle to my left, “They’re playing cards!!”
Boggle players are officially driving me mad.
“Is ‘nosh’ a word?”
“Well, it’s Jewish. Or Yiddish.”
“Well, Yiddish isn’t a real language. It’s a combination of two languages: German and Jewish.”
They, in turn, are being driven mad by the homeless man in front of them, it seems.
Boy: “Do you guys want to play spit?”
Girl: “I used to know how to play spit.”
Homeless man: “I used to know how to play spit.”
Boy: “Or we could just play poker.”
Homeless man: “I used to know how to play spit. I could play.”
Girl: “Maybe let’s just take a nap, instead.”
A group of three young Asian people have set up a chair behind me, in the barely-chair-sized gap the man behind me left. They just…moved in. The 50 or so people behind this gap in line glare and say nothing.
Homeless man takes off socks, smells them, says, “Woooooo!”
(The homeless guy [and a Boggle-player's leg in the foreground]:)
The 3 kids to my right attempt to steal a delivered order of French toast from Cosi as the rightful recipient watches from downt eh line, intimidated and cowed into silence. Only after they sniff and unwrap the order, decide that they do not want it, and send the man away, does she speak up and get her food.
People to my left:
“Spit is boring.”
“Your face is boring.”
Homeless man has a prolonged, prolific, baroque coughing fit. Spits multiple times, int eh middle of his long lecture/monologue/conversation, without acknowledging any interruption.
Trying…so hard…to wait until at least 9 before I call Ian…
The guy to my left worked as a translator for a fortune teller at a carnival when he was a very little kid.
Different hobo spotted, this one not in line, just chatting with those who are. He is drinking a Budweiser tall boy from a paper bag. It is 9:24 am.
Also, the 3 Asian kids have spread their car’s trunk’s carpet over the middle of the sidewalk. One of them is lying on it, imitating and mocking beggars:
“Godda dollah? Goddah quaddah? HAR! HAR! HAR! Think I’ll actually get some money? I bet I’ll actually get some money.”
“No, you won’t get any money! You don’t look homeless! You’re wearing jeans and stuff!” (From the girl, earnestly finding the flaw in his plan.)
The Asian girl says “huh?” before every statement.
Boy: “How many tickets are we getting?”
Girl: “Huh? Five.”
Boy: “I thought it was six.”
Girl: “Huh? It was six, but now it’s five.”
Boy: “Who’s the fifth?”
Girl: “Huh? Cecilia. She’s stupid.”
HOLY FUCKING SHIT. A PIGEON JUST SHAT THE MOST SHIT I’VE EVER SEEN FROM A BIRD ALL OVER THE DOUCHEBAG.
It’s like a gift from heaven. The lord also hates a douchebag.
Of course, it got all over their stupid carpet, and stinks like shit (seriously – it’s like this thing pooped baby poop, not bird poop; it’s fucking spectacular) and they keep staring at it and not removing it.
(Douchebags, pre-birdshit. Note the fact that he is lying in the middle of the sidewalk. It was even worse, earlier. He was lying perpendicular instead of parallel, but he moved.)
Stiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiill talkin’ about it.
“It’s gonna show up on all the NYC blogs tonight! ‘So I was waiting in line for Shakespeare tickets and this bird shit [sic] all over this poor guy…’”
Still haven’t talked about a single other thing. Keept talking about how it’ll be such an amazing, unbelievable story.
Dear Douchebags: No it won’t. A bird pooped on you. No one cares anymore. I hate you again. You deserve a whole second monumental pooping now from this new douchebag karma. The end.
Random lady walking down the street, to guy on my left with big stretched-out hole earrings:
Lady: “Did that hurt?”
Guy: “[Stock answer about how, no, they do it slowly over time, so it doesn't really hurt, yadda yadda."]
Guy’s friend: “Also, he’s a queer.”
Lady: “Oh, okay.”
A 3-legged dog just hopped/trotted by!
Also, still talking about bird poop. And The Game.
Idiot Girl: “The Game? Was that what the movie was based on?”
Douchebag Guy: “Nooo…”
IG: “Is it like a John Grisham book?”
DG: “No. It was written by this cool young guy.”
IG: “It sounds like a John Grisham book.”
DG: “It’s a totally great book. You definitely ought to read it.” [All snarky, thinks he's VERRRRRY clever.]
IG: “I like to read. [Ed. note: *Wide-eyed breaking-the-fourth-wall look to camera, a la Jim.*] What’s it about?”
DG: “It’s a New York Times bestseller. It’s about a guy who unlocks the secret…to life!”
Settling in to the rough final few hours. The douchebags are finally asleep (across the middle of the sidewalk). The Boggle players are all reading quietly. The people in the second half of the line are finally getting the hint, packing up their folding chairs and heading home. Asking us lucky few as they pass, ruefully, “When did you get here?” “4 am.” Tight annoyed smiles.
I have been wearing my ipod this entire time, but it has been off all along. Pretending to look like I can’t hear you to accidentally fall into a friendly convo. My invisible forcefield of unfriendliness!
Dogs keep sniffing the Korean douchebag, dead body style. Maybe one will pee on him. He was almost run over by an ice cream vendor. Update: I still hate him.
We stand up! Tickets to be handed out very soon now!
Korean Douchebag: “Beauty and the Beast was mad magical.”
And, yes, STILL talking about poop and what an awesome story it will be.
All of the above quotes are true and accurate. Really truly srsly.
A few other tidbits that I apparently didn’t get down at the time, but which are also totally true:
Stinky homeless guy to my left to Asians to my right:
“Are you guys Korean?”
“Are you in the military?”
“Oh. Because I used to know a couple Korean guys when I was in the army….” [Commence long story about being in a war.]
Homeless guy getting into what seemed to be a very passionate argument, on his end at least, about whether or not people in Europe were racist, with white teenage girls, maybe high schoolers, sitting across from him, looking terrified and confused.
It comes out over the course of conversations that the Korean douchebags are in a Korean frat. They spend much time talking about hazing new pledges. The punchline is always that the Korean sorority gets to see them naked. I.e., “We made them take off all their clothes and told them to go into the living room to sing the song, but when they went out there, all the girls were there, and they all laughed!” And: “They had to take off all their clothes and go into the [Something-amma Something-eta] house and run upstairs and steal the painting of Louie! And all the girls saw them and laughed!” Etc.
While the Douchebag is pretending to be homeless, he also pretends to be a “crazy” homeless guy. This means that in addition to holding his hand out to passerby and asking them in a “funny homeless guy” accent for a “quaddah,” he also sometimes pretends to be asleep, then rears up really fast at, I SWEAR THIS IS TRUE, small children and dogs, and growls at them and shouts wordlessly and waves his arms all about. He did this to probably half a dozen dogs and at least two children: one a maybe four or five year old blond girl, who shrieked, and one an impervious toddler in a stroller, who glanced idly over, then, dismissively, away again.
Douchebags inform someone who is walking past, one of the people asking, “How early did you get here?” that they arrived at 2am. First of all, Douchebags, you arrived at like 6. But even I only arrived at 4.
Douchebags think that since they’re near the front of the line, they will have really good front-row tickets. This is totally not true – the free tickets are all pretty far away. People with paid tickets take up the first front few sections. I am picturing, and very fully expect to see, them ignoring their assigned seating and just sitting down in front-row seats, anyway, until they get kicked out. Also, I totally imagine them walking in 15 minutes late and being distracting. Cecilia’s stupid.
Douchebags seem to be from out of town, and have some kind of crazy plan to get to Central Park: they will drive into town, try to park somewhere around “here” (which is Astor Place-ish: no parking), then take a 1-2-3 train (which in reality does not have a stop anywhere near Astor Place) to the park. Some other douchebag isn’t sure that the 1-2-3 goes to the park. After some discussion, the first doucebag says that if it isn’t nearby, they’ll just take a taxi. They all agree to this plan.
Also, here’s something: I feel bad proving the Douchebags any kind of correct at all, and I know that they predicted that someone would blog about them. My only real defense is that I don’t think they’re “some poor guy.” I think it was the righteous wrath of a vengeful god. And I hate also to agree with them that it’s a good story. Again, my defense is that I didn’t continue talking about nothing but that one thing for the next 6 hours. And also that I think it’s a good story for a different reason. Ultimately, I weighed the pros of outing their humiliation vs the cons of making this douchebag correct about something, and I decided to humiliate. So there you go.
A Brief History of the Dead, by Kevin Brockmeier (the book I finished while in line), in 100 words or less:
(The line, dwindling off into the far far distant horizon. None of those poor assholes got tickets.)