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Really, we would love to have you stay but we would feel rude about that as we have left. As in gone, defunct, kaput. We aren't here anymore. Sometimes, when it's late and we are worried about dying, we do believe in reincarnation. So, maybe we will live again. We'll let you know if that happens.


III. More from the Essay on What Used to Be My Really Hard Life -- This is the Masturbator-Flasher Part So Read It!


As far as commutes go, the counter-commute from Manhattan to White Plains was one of the better ones. No one to speak of was leaving Manhattan at 8:00 a.m. to get to White Plains since most of White Plains was already enroot to Manhattan. All I had to do was walk eight blocks down and six blocks over from West 48th Street and Tenth Avenue to Grand Central. If the weather was lousy, I could ride a bus to the station and pick up nice a Metro North Train.

Getting home was easy, too. Someone almost always gave me a ride to the train station in White Plains. The train back to Manhattan was always sparcely peopled (except on Fridays when everyone under 30 from all places due north seemed to tying one on and heading into the big city). I would get in a train car with ten or eleven people in it. Everyone sat far apart from one another, wearing our walkmans, reading our newspapers, books and magazines—a quiet crowd of mostly professionally dressed women.

By the time the train got to Manhattan and made its stop at 125th Street, the car was usually empty, save one or two people. Then the conductor would come through and check our tickets one last time and retreat for the remainder of the trip during which the train would put on speed and barrel into the long dark tunnel to Grand Central.

Ah, the stop at 125th Street. It marked the beginning of the end of the work day for me. And, until the Masturbator Flasher incident, it stirred in me a certain sense of excitement. I was 21 and I was in New York City. I would crank up my Iggy Pop or Grace Jones or Suburban Lawns, let my book fall to my lap and feel a tingle in my fingertips and day dream of the time when I would be somebody in the city. Somebody, who, say, didn’t have to counter-commute to White Plains to work in an office editing corporate publications. Somebody who didn’t have to wander around offering to make photocopies for everyone just so she wouldn’t have to look at the PC Junior manual she was rewriting.

But then, in the middle of Iggy’s stirring rendition of “Lust for Life” I caught, in my peripheral vision, a disturbing blur of motion. I glanced sideways, without turning my head, to check my senses. I must have known that something was wrong. I surreptitiously turned down the volume of the walkman and picked up my book. I held it close to my face and cut a glance again. A trim, middle-aged man in white tennis shorts and a green and white striped polo shirt was sitting in the seat (that before the stop at 125th Street had been empty) across the aisle. He was clutching his rather outsized penis in both hands. He stared at me with a half-smile and furiously jacked off.

I think I stopped breathing for the 80 or so blocks left in the trip. I looked around the car. Entirely empty. I started to stand up but then sat back down again. I pretended to read. I started to stand up but sat back down again. I repeated this pattern about ten times until the lights went out, as they often did in the tunnel when we were nearing Grand Central, and the train slowed. In the dark, I shot out of my seat.

I had only made to the aisle when the lights came back on. The masturbator-flasher guy stood up, white tennis shorts still unzipped, his large, now flaccid penis hanging out, and smiled and nodded at me. Needless to say, I did not nod back. I ran to the next car as the train pulled into the station and then ran all the way to the street, where I sprung for a cab.

Later, when I told my boyfriend about what happened, we decided, hey, this is New York City. Yup. Chalk it up to the city. What’s the chance of ever seeing that guy again? As it turned out, the chances of seeing that guy again were pretty good. Excellent even. That guy and I had the same train schedule.

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