On the way downtown, my last full day in New York, I overheard a conversation. I couldn’t help but overhear–the two participants were standing in front of me, their crotches staring right at my face, their voices loud and booming, like the “lecture” voice of college professors. They seemed as if they’re the kind of people who always talk loudly while enunciating, as if we all should turn to listen and absorb their worldly knowledge.
It was an older man, professor-like, and a younger man his protege, or an admirer. More like an admirer, as he fawned over the older man’s remarks and observations like Ed McMahon with Johnny Carson. Laughing forcefully at the (not so funny) jokes (fake worshipful laughter), nodding vigorously at the other’s opinions.
They talked about translators and poets and phil levine and snodgrass. They hated Kerouac. It seemed they were AWP attendees.
The younger dude’s fly was open. I wondered if I should tell him. I whispered to my husband and asked whether I ought to alert him. My husband shook his head.
So there they were, on the train all pseudo-intellectual, with their pants unzipped.