The Drunken Juggler

juggler

(google)

Late night bus rides are never dull. After 10:01 p.m., the buses arrive at different gates, in more distant, less-trafficked chambers of Port Authority Bus Terminal (“PABT”). More tourists, more drunk people, a generic strain of weirdos and lost souls (aren’t we all?).

I arrived at PABT at 10:40 p.m. last night after seeing an opera with my friend. The next bus was scheduled for 11:05 p.m. A jocular becspectacled woman with a thick mane of dirty blonde hair bounced toward the front of the gate. Some of us were leaning against the wall and a few others, lined up.

“Where do we line up?” she said, smiling widely. “Do we stand ‘in line’ or ‘on line’? Do we have any grammar Nazis here?”

I said, “I think it’s ‘on line.’ ”

“In school it was a really big deal. We stood on line, that’s what we did. Always a line.”

“Yes, we did,” I said.

She fished into her canvas tote bag, pulled out five soft black and white balls and started juggling.

A guy leaning against the wall next to me said, “Wow, I could never do that.”

The lady said, “Oh, we can teach you. Come to Bryant Park any Wednesday between 5 and 7. We’re always there. I find it makes people smile. It’s all about getting people to smile.”

If her smile was any wider, I thought it would tear the sides of her mouth until they bled.

She dropped a ball and returned all five balls to their tote bag.

“Oh, alcohol makes everything better!” she said.

The leaning guy and I smiled at her.

Definitely a New York moment.

It was one of those times where you enjoyed the moment, but felt a bit on edge, like you had to participate in this person’s exuberance no matter how tired you were. Not necessarily a bad thing, but there was a tinge of danger and volatility to her. I thought if we looked at her the wrong way or didn’t smile, she might fly off the handle.

We were a captive audience.

I was happy when the bus arrived and I could burrow into a seat towards the back of the bus and close my eyes. I had had enough excitement for one day.

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “The Drunken Juggler

  1. Great story! Absolutely a New York moment. We’re pretty much immune to the sudden and unexpected. We live and work literally on top of each other, there’s no getting around it. But, it’s fun to imagine a city full of jugglers oh and balloons, lots of balloons! I’d like to see that one day…maybe in my next life.

    Liked by 2 people

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