Breaking away from Flatbush, Brooklyn to attend high school in Manhattan was an amazing event. It marked the transition from child to, well, not yet man, but something in-between. Sex was often on my mind and references and innuendos slipped into every encounter. I had graduated from TROUBLE IN FLATBUSH to a whole new venue of dilemmas. It’s important to remember that this was the early 50s, when strangers were generally trusted. I was a beginning high-school freshman.
It wasn’t long before I had a strange confrontation that introduced me to the rich variety of strangers that I would meet on the subway of New York. My ride home was long and I was generally tired from a busy day at school. Getting a seat was an imperative and a window seat that enabled a restful snooze was a luxury. Coming home at roughly the same time every day allowed me to get familiar with the faces in the crowd. Knowing their stops enabled me to frequently snag a window seat. It wasn’t long before I daydreamed my way to a restful snooze.
One day while I was deep in daydream at a window seat, the seat next to me became empty. It was quickly taken by a good-looking man in a stylish suit. He fiddled with his New York Times opening the large sheets and starting to read. In a semi-daze, my eyes opened and closed, sometimes reading, sometimes just staring at his newspaper. It was hard to avoid since the newspaper was so large it covered part of my lap like a tent.
That’s when it started. My thigh nearest the stranger started to feel warm. It took me a few seconds to realize that he was only holding the paper with one hand. The other hard was exploring new territory; mine. My first instinct was to pretend that I was sleeping with my mind in a different place. Perhaps my mind was, but my thigh was right there, trapped under the New York Times. As his leg pressed against mine, I shrunk closer to the window. The car was packed tight with a rush-hour crowd and under cover of the New York Times I was being groped.
My first sensation was an uncertain fear, followed by excitement of the stimulation, but followed again by a chill that curled my toes and made my hair tingle. Afraid of insulting the well-dressed man, I tucked my books under my arm and excused myself. As I glanced back, he winked with a friendly smile. In a pretense of nonchalance, I got off the train. I could still feel an impression of a strange hand moving inward from my thigh. That feeling doesn’t go away so easily.