System C

Or: Using Every Part of the Binder Clip Buffalo

By

It’s Not the Size of Your Needles, It’s How You Use Them

This is a story about the peculiar magnetic properties of a man knitting on the subway in New York City. I wrote this in 2007, shortly after it happened.

After visiting my parents in Virginia over Christmas, I took a Greyhound back to New York. As soon as I got off the bus in the city, before I even went home to drop off my stuff, I met up with my friends Seth and Aubrey who were visiting the city for the holidays and staying at a Comfort Inn in Chelsea. We had dinner and hung out at their hotel for a while, and I didn’t end up leaving until about midnight. I hauled all my stuff several blocks to the subway, and then sat down to wait for the train. I pulled out my knitting to pass the time.

As I was knitting there, I thought, “You know, I bet someone’s going to come talk to me.” For some reason, people often do when I’m knitting on the subway. Sure enough, before too long a guy sits down next to me and starts talking to me about knitting. He watches me struggle for a while, and then offers to show me some tips. I pass him the needles, and then the train arrives, so I gather all of my baggage and get on, the guy following behind with the knitting. We sit, and he continues to demonstrate a few knitting tricks, and I’m thinking, “Man, this guy is so friendly and helpful,” and then suddenly he says, “So, have you ever slept with a man?”

“Uh…no.”
“You are straight, right?”
“Yes.”
“Okay.”

Knit, knit, knit.

“Have you ever thought about having sex with a man?”
“No.”

This is about when I started laughing, which he seemed to take as a good sign.

“Do you want to give it a try?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Do you have a girlfriend?”

This would have been a perfect opportunity for me to lie.

“No.”
“Oh. I think you’re very sexy.”
“Thanks.”

Knit, knit.

“Sometimes, with a man, it’s less spiritual than with a woman. More physical.”
“Ah.”
“Do you masturbate?”
“Uh…”
“It’s sort of like masturbating with a friend.”
“Oh…Do you know how to purl?”

His attention diverted for the moment, he spends the next few minutes showing me how to purl, and then hands the needles to me to try for myself. I already basically know how to purl, but he finds plenty to correct me on anyway. Eventually we get to his stop, just a few before mine.

“This is my stop. You can come over if you want?”
“No…no, thank you.”
“For coffee?”
“No thanks.”

He smiles and offers his hand, ostensibly to shake. I’m dubious, but I decide that a firm, masculine handshake might sort of drive the whole “I’m straight” thing home. As soon as he takes my hand, he places his other hand on top of mine, looks deep into my eyes, and says, “You give me a hard on.”

He then turns and walks off the subway.

I’m just glad I wasn’t using my BIG needles.