Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

My Photo
Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Most Dangerous Game

Last night, about 9:30, I'd just finished an evening hanging out with my friend Sarah Bunting (of Television Without Pity and Tomato Nation), and was quietly solving a crossword on the train. Round about 125th street, a family came on---tall, sandy blond hair, two men, two women, one older set, one younger set. So I'm guessing two brothers, about ten years apart in age, and their spouses. What's important is this: They divided up by gender---the two men over near the pole, the two women---one of whom was pushing an empty stroller, standing near some empty seats a few steps away. And that's when I noticed that the older man---I'd put him in his early forties, so not old-old, but relative to this story---the older man had a tiny girl riding piggyback on his shoulders. She was maybe three and had that wide smile and explosive giggle we associate with children. The other, younger man was leaning toward her and playing peek-a-boo. His style was to ball his two fists together, hid his face behind them as if they were boulders, and then cry, in a surprisingly high and girly voice, "Ah-BOOLY-boolybooly-boo!" with a sudden explosion of his fingers into traditional "show-hands" position. Child giggles. Repeat.

I returned to my crossword and I heard this:


Delightful childish giggles.


More giggling from the kid.


Silence. One of the women said, "John? Are you all right?"

I looked up. The younger man was standing there, holding his hand over his left eye and not moving.

"He's okay," said the elder. "His thumb just went and---" and he made a thumb-in-eye gesture.

As it happened, we were at 175th, which seemed to be their stop, and they all filed off, muted by concern, with the young man, hand still over his face, stumbling after the others.

And my first thought was, Wow. How is he ever going to explain his injury at work tomorrow?:

"John! Your eye's bandaged! What happened?"

"Well, I was playing peek-a-boo with my niece, you know---a lot of flailing and shrieking in a high-pitched silly voice---and you know how things get out of hand..."

"You mean you weren't wearing safety goggles? Christ. You're lucky to be alive." Pause. "I'm just kidding. You're an idiot. Excuse me while I announce this to the Internet."

How funny was it? When he got off the subway train, there were eight commuters left. We'd all seen it, and we all busted up. Instant communion. It was a beautiful thing. Well, maybe not a beautiful thing, but it's better than a sharp stick in your eye.


Post a Comment

<< Home