Did you know that if you suffer delays on the New York City subway, and your boss/teacher/girlfriend doesn't believe you, the MTA will help you prove it? By inputting incredibly specific information about when you entered the system, when you transferred, and when you were stopped, they will present you with what I can only assume is a gold-leaf certificate reading I Am Not A Liar, You Petty Bastard.
I imagine this unasked-for service is intended for schoolchildren who need proof of absence, or midtown's most-enslaved wage slaves, but the thought of anyone having to use it makes me bluer than the A train. "The trains were all screwed up," is supposed to be a golden excuse—impossible to disprove, impossible to deny. Taking away our standard excuse for lateness will force the rest of us to get more creative.
It wasn't a stubborn L train that made me late, but a tiger in my bedroom. No, the 3 train was running fine, but I was hit by a comet on the way up the steps and suffered a Class 5 concussion. The trains were no slower than usual this morning—I was late because I am a ghost, and had business in the netherworld.
Reading about the MTA's peculiar new service—actually, I'm not even sure if it is new—reminded me of a dream I had a few nights ago, where I had a brilliant idea for a new play. When I woke up the next day, I strained to remember it. There is no worse feeling than knowing that your unconscious gave you a creative gift, and you were not able to hang on to it. Searching the trash heap that is my brain, I found the little nugget of inspiration. It would have been better forgotten.
The pitch: a perfectly realistic simulation of the experience of riding on the New York City subway. And not an interesting ride on the train. Not even a crowded one. Nope, just an ordinary, nearly-empty subway car, chugging along on a hot summer morning.
It's the worst idea I've ever had. It's so bad, that I just had to go ahead and write it. It's only two pages long, but I think that, performed faithfully, it would run at least a half hour. It's called Bronx Bound, and it begins:
The grubby interior of a New York City R62A subway car, riding north on the IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue Line. It is the middle of summer, the air conditioning is broken, and the car is empty save for a homeless man in the corner, bundled up in hundred degree heat and immobile. CONDUCTOR This is a Bronx bound one train making all local stops. Next stop Fourteenth Street. Stand clear of the closing doors. Doors close. The train sways slightly for a minute or two. It stops. The doors open. CONDUCTOR Fourteenth Street, transfer here to the F, M, L, two and three trains. Bronx bound one train making local stops. Eighteenth Street next. Stand clear.
It's the most realistic play I've ever written! Download the full version here. It's even duller than you expect.
Rather than try conning a producer into spending $75,000 on a detailed recreation of an R62A, I'm going to let the MTA do it for me. Consider this—one day this summer, the air conditioning will be broken on a northbound 1, and the conductor will know my script by heart. I may not know when it happens, but the city of New York is producing one of my plays this summer—and every summer after that.
I've hit the big time, baby!