Royalty on the D Train

Last night I had dinner with a friend I haven’t seen in ages. Afterward, we walked to the train. Though we waited on the same platform, she’s an F girl, and I’m a D. My train came first, and we hugged our goodbye. As we separated, I looked at the train and saw an older man in the window watching us. He was still watching me when I walked into the car. He kept his bag on the seat while two other women found spots, then moved it, seemingly to offer me the empty seat. I took the seat because of course, but I also thanked him, though I was undecided about whether I should thank him — yes, those two other women found seats, but letting his bag take space when folks need to sit is rude.

But I thanked him, and he offered to give me the whole two-seater because he was getting off at the next stop. I assured him that wasn’t necessary, so we sat: me looking forward, minding my own business and him, staring at me.


It’s not as though men pay me no attention in public, so this ridiculous staring neither shocked nor appalled me. Even at my advancing age, I have to deal with street harassment on a regular basis. But there was something about this man … I couldn’t put my finger on it. I wasn’t getting a danger alert from my internal sensors. Quite the opposite. I just knew that if I’d turned and looked at him, he’d have smiled and started a perfectly, harmlessly respectful conversation. But … there was something. I kept my eyes forward.


We pulled into the next stop, and he got himself ready to leave. I leaned out of his way and gave him a half smile. And as he left he said, “Thank you, Queen.”

   

And that was it, that “Queen.” Then he made some sense. He was one of those men.


I hadn’t given him enough of a look to register that he was Black. He was so light he could easily pass if he so chose. I looked at him as he left the train, noted his kinky hair, the dzi and red white-heart beads around his neck, the ankh and lion-head ornaments on his cane. When he stepped onto the platform, he came to my window, put his hand over his heart and gave a small bow and a smile, then walked away.


Yes, one of those men. The honor-the-strong-Black-woman men. And I don’t say that dismissively or derisively. I get little enough honoring when I’m out on the street that I appreciate it even when it sneaks up on me. And I appreciated “Queen” as opposed to “my Queen.” That’s a whole other kind of man. There’s honor in there, but it falls somewhere in my relationship to the man who’s speaking. “Queen” on its own is only about me.

I like these random reminders that this is another way for strangers to interact on the street, that it doesn’t always have to be about space-claiming or having our guard up, that there can be these tiny moments capping a warm, lovely evening, these tiny, human moments, offered up with a smile.


It’s the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers! With hundreds of folks participating, there’s more than a little something for everyone … and plenty of room for you to join in!

10 thoughts on “Royalty on the D Train

  1. Such a beautiful closing paragraph. Tiny moments…I love it. In the end it’s really all we have to hold onto; tiny moments strung together to make one grand life. Thank you for the slice of wisdom.

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  2. LSquared

    I was a bit worried about what the conversation or interaction might be from the opening of your post, so this — “The honor-the-strong-Black-woman men” line you wrote made me not only breathe easy, but breathe deeper with gratitude. I’m grateful to learn that there are men who consciously honor strong women. That short interaction on the D train turned on this compelling line.

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  3. Really enjoyed reading your inner thoughts and interactions with this passenger. I was held in suspense hoping you were going to be safe without a creepy out come,
    I’d never heard the term “Queen” used in that manner, I admit. Thanks for sharing, looking forward to reading more!

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    1. I don’t often hear “Queen” in this way. “My Queen” is far more common. I wasn’t trying to make this story suspenseful. That just sort of came out. Thanks for reading! 🙂

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  4. The tiny moments that creep up on you. Especially the unexpectedly good ones that are like biting into a fruit you half expect to be maybe under ripe. But then you bite and your mouth floods with juicy sweetness that catches you off guard and you treasure it. Yes Queen. Those are the moments that live for you, not the other way around.

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