Red-faced and dripping at the Bowery J station, a paper sign announced that the J would bypass the station. I was concerned that the perspiration beading on my forehead might ruin my alien headgear. I was not financially fit to replace it. This made me sweat more.
We had spent 40 minutes traveling from Union Square to SoHo. I indulged in a surge of panic -- would we ever get there or were we sentenced to chase J trains for a month of hellfire Sundays?
We continued on foot, certain that we had already lost the race, determined to claim the free beers awaiting us at the finish line, and thirsting for the L. By the time we reached the Delancey-Essex station, we’d logged nearly 3,000 steps.
A J train arrived as our orange Van Alen participant’s stickers peeled from our sweat-soaked T-shirts. We were finally hurtling towards Marcy Avenue, safely ensconced in he subway’s artificially conditioned air. See, I’m calm. It’s going to be ok. This is all according to plan, I told my monitor, checking my pulse. My teammates and I chatted more easily now, ignoring the glances of other commuters bored enough to notice our head bots. Showtime dancers soon outshone us.
Pulling into Marcy Avenue, for the first time since our departure, I felt a small sense of pride. We’d crossed the river. That was something. I hoped my mind reader thought so, too.
We finally arrived at Teddy’s an hour-and-a-half after our departure -- a journey that takes 11 minutes on the L train. We were the last of the bunch. “I think I blacked out the last hour,” Kent-Daggett said. We’d had a lark, but we had also spent over an hour traveling 4.5 miles.
We entered the backroom at the bar to a slow clap from our competitors, who’d long ago settled in with beers and commuter tales -- none of which were quite so blundered as ours.
Fuck you, I thought. Then, to my brain bot: just kidding -- just in case.