I had a lovely conversation with a mime the other night.
She was off-duty, so she was able to speak with me rather than act out her responses. Her name was Margot and I met her on the 59th Street train station in Brooklyn.
I had just gotten off the N train and joined the rest of the lost souls who wait, and wait, and wait for the R train to arrive so we can finish the last leg of our journey home. Bay Ridge residents often refer to these trains as the "Rarely" and the "Never," which should give you an idea of what the service is like.
As I walked up the platform I saw a young woman sitting on a small suitcase. She looked so different from everybody else on the platform, so happy, that when our eyes met, we smiled.
I was going to leave it at that and keep walking, but I forced myself to slow down and enjoy life a little.
“You’ve got your own chair,” I said.
She laughed and we kept on talking. She told me she was a mime, which was intriguing since I never met a mime before. And I have to confess that I’ve never been a really big mime fan, but that was starting to change.
“Do you get much mime work?” I asked.
“Oh, yes,” she said. “I do parties and weddings.”
“What about wakes?” I asked.
She laughed and said no, but you never know—it might catch on and Margot could start a new trend. I kept asking more mime-related questions when Margot shot back with a query of her own.
“Would you like me to perform for you now?” she asked.
I was taken aback. She wants to mime me, here, in front of all these strangers? I’d tried to imagine standing there and getting a one-on-one Marcel Marceau.
It felt illicit, even sinful, which, of course, would be all the more reason to say yes. Everyone in that station would wonder who is this guy with his own private mime.
But, of course, I turned her down. I'm rather uptight. I didn’t think it would be right—even though she was offering. I have these feelings of unworthiness, that I don’t deserve things, even when people say it’s okay.
It’s very frustrating. Even mimes can express themselves, for Christ’s sake, and they don’t speak. I’m sub-mime.
So I regret to say I didn’t get a chance to see Margot do “Walking against the Wind” or any other routines, but I’m sure she’d be great at it.
We talked some more and I could tell Margot was not a native Brooklynite—there are so few of us left. She was far too friendly and outgoing to be a hardened New Yorker.
“Where did you come from?”
“Heaven,” she quipped.
“Good one,” I said, giving her a thumbs up and a rimshot.
She is actually from Florida and she’s only been in New York for a short time. She’s an actress as well as a mime, and she had just auditioned for a part in The Fantasticks.
For once the goddamn local showed up quickly—thanks for nothing, MTA!—and we got on board. Margot had trouble keeping her balance on a moving train, more evidence that she’s a New York newbie.
“How do you like Bay Ridge?”
“It’s nice,” she said. “People here are very friendly. There aren’t that many artists living here, though.”
“No,” I said. “You have to go to Park Slope for that.”
Now, I just want to say right here and now that I’m sure there are plenty of talented people living in Bay Ridge. We’ve got Pauley Walnuts, whom I’ve seen at least twice in my travels. But Park Slope does have that artistic reputation.
My stop came up and I gave Margot my card and wished her well. I made my next stupid mistake by not getting any contact information from her—nice going, nitwit.
But if nothing else I had a very pleasant experience on the subway and believe me that doesn’t happen too often. Margot is like so many young people who come here pursing their dreams and I really hope she makes it.
Maybe I’ll run into her again on the subway platform. Or maybe I’ll see her on the stage, or walking around Bay Ridge in search of Pauley Walnuts. And when I do see her I’m going to that mime show.