WEARING MY AGE LIKE A TATTERED SUIT
I didn't have to wait long for the A to show up. As it pulled in to the Forty-second street station I could see it was pretty full. When the doors opened I realized I wasn't going to get a seat. Fine. My shoe bag wasn't heavy and I'd have to change trains again once I got to 59th Street. Once the doors closed I grabbed an overhead sissy bar in front of a two-person seat next to the door. A middle-aged black woman sat nearest the door snoozing with her head bouncing off her chest with each raspy breath she let out. Next to her sat a young woman reading a romance novel, probably an assistant or receptionist at an accounting firm or small corporate office. Her hair was a bit messy and her clothes were just a bit above drab taking her out of the fashion or advertising fields but there was a sweet shyness about her. The shyness was what threw me when her eyes jerked up from her book. There was this sense of guilty as she caught my eye and asked me if I would like her seat. I was a little startled and a bit offended but I smiled back, shook my head and politely told her no, I was getting off in a few stops. She went back to her book as I started to obsess with my internal dialogue about not thinking of myself as being eligible for priority seating. You know the signs corroding off the back of the plastic seats telling the youth and able-bodied of America to get off their padded behinds and give up their seat to elderly and disabled. I wasn't about to suffer this ageism lightly, at least not in my head.
I know, I know I'm being over dramatic. I'm way too sensitive. She was only being polite but the fact that I'm now apparently wearing my age like a tattered suit has the power of turning my day from happy to mad. I'm sure that there are many people who are more gracious than I am and more able to embrace their badge of old age than I am.
Then just as I was about willing to succumb to my fate of senior citizenry I did a quick scan of the rest of the car. Standing next to me was a pregnant woman with a baby and holding on to the center pole with both hands was a lady in opaque stockings standing about four feet ten with more facial wrinkles than a Shar Pei.
I should be thankful that I've been given as many days as I have. I've circumvented having to serve in a war I didn't believe in. I've dodged an epidemic that swallowed up so many of my gay community. I've survived a financial beating that would have driven others to put a gun to their heads. I'm lucky and blessed in so many ways. For all of this I feel I deserve the right to stand without assistance and feel a little indignant at the thought that some guilty millennial thought I'm too old and feeble to tote my bag of, might I say, stylish Clarks drivers three more stops on the A train.
Dean Bradshaw, photographer
Represented by Weiss Katz Gallery