subway charades

by erinohsays

It is 2:30am on a weekday in Manhattan and I am alone on a fairly empty L train heading into Brooklyn. Two guys in their early thirties get on the train, one sits next to me and the other sits across from us. The guy next to me says, “Are you ready?” And the other guy says, “Yeah.”

I am starting to feel a little nervous.

Guy Next To Me puts up two fingers.

“Two words?” Guy Across From Us asks.

Guy Next To Me shakes his head ‘yes’ and holds up two fingers again.

“Second word?”


Guy Next To Me draws a circle in the air with his finger.



He repeats the circular motion.



Guy Next To Me shakes his hands, as if to wipe the slate clean. He holds up one finger.

“First word?”


He holds his hand out straight, close to the train floor, palm downward.



He holds up two fingers, and then draws a circle again.

“Short circuit!” I yell excitedly, jumping to the edge of my seat.

They both laugh. “Awesome!” Guy Next To Me says.

Guy Across From Us holds up two fingers.

Two words.

Then he holds up one finger.

First word.

Guy Across From Us leans forward and reaches his arm around to his back, drawing an imaginary hump.

“Hump!” Guy Next To Me yells.


Guy Across From Us thinks for a second, then drinks from an imaginary cup, holding his pinky out.

“Humpty Dumpty!” I yell.

Me and Guy Next To Me exchange high fives.

“It’s your turn now!” he says to me. “But hurry because we’re getting off at the next stop!”

I think for a second and then begin tying an imaginary bow on my neck.

“Tie!” they both yell.


Then I close my eyes and reach my hands out in front of me, raising my face to the train ceiling.

“Tanning!” Guy Across From Us yells.


I point to the ground as if seeing a rat and make a disgusted face. We’re approaching their stop and the doors are opening.


“You’re so good at this” Guy Next To Me yells, while the two of them run out the train doors.

A young woman reading a book on the other side of the train looks up. We make eye contact and exchange quiet smiles.