Standing on the subway platform at Bedford Avenue was a bunch of no-good hoodlums. There is simply not other way to describe them. They were decked out in hooded sweatshirts, ripped cargo pants and a spattering of chains that I couldn’t look directly at for fear of permanent retinal damage. The packed platform had parted around them like they were wearing a particularly pungent variety of respectable commuter repellent. They seemed to be communicating in noises, rather than actual words. Sitting between the skinny legs of the standout head crony was the kind of portable stereo you had as a kid. It was covered in glow in the dark stick on stars that he’d obviously failed to scratch off. And judging from the tinny wailing coming out of it, I’d say it actually was the portable stereo he had as a kid. The group he was travelling with were clearly one of those pesky break dance crews that perform on the trains late at night trying to make a bit of quick coin. They looked homeless. Or at least young person poor, which is basically the same thing.
I know first hand - the struggle is real. The other night I stole a block of chocolate that was leftover from a shoot at work that I planned to stow away as an emergency ration to get me through to summer. The next morning I woke up to find a few cheeky squares missing and a shredded pile of wrapping. I confronted my equally poor roommates and they swore they didn’t touch it – which ended in them being super mad at me for harbouring secret chocolate. When I re-checked the block, I realised that those tiny teeth marks could only be the work of a literal dirty rat. A fact made all the more disgusting considering the block was on top of the microwave, which was on top of the bench. I swear to you I had actual dreams about rats backstroking through my Greek yoghurt.
In classic New York form, the trains only run slow when you actually need them. I could just imaging the big sliver beast cruising along like a fat snake that’s been getting sun drunk on a rock all day. From a place of pure filth came a noise remarkably similar to a toilet getting a vigorous plunging. I looked up just in time to find a spitball swooshing like a shooting star onto the tracks, straight from the mouth of the croney. Urgh. I could practically see the dollar signs in their eyes as they eyed my laptop bag. Finally the train came and we all boarded. There were a bunch of seats free, but they still chose to sit right by me – definitely part of an elaborate plan to somehow milk my white ass for all it’s worth. I braced myself for the whiney stereo to crank into life. But when it didn’t, I looked up instead to find a giant man blocking their way to the pole.
He looked exactly like the result of a one night stand between Hodor and Hagrid. His bristly fro shared a similar texture with the steel wool balls my mum used to scrub the sink with and each step he took looked to be causing him a great deal of pain. He was wearing thick coke bottle glasses, covered in an even thicker layer of grime. Scanning the train, his puffy eyes fell on the guy with the stereo. It was like watching a documentary, where the hunter becomes the hunted. Everyone else on the train purposefully averted their eyes, laying low in the grass hiding from the lion. But instead of shoving the big guy out of the way, the croney stood up and poured about 10 dollars worth of coins into his outstretched coffee cup, before patting him on the shoulder. That money would have taken him all night and about 4000 death stares to earn, and just like that, he gave it all away.
This bacon brussels salad reminds me of that hooligan on the train – a little bad, but mostly good.
- 1 punnet brussels sprouts, halved
- Olive oil
- About 6 rashers bacon, diced
- Seeds from 1 pomegranate
- About four handfuls of chopped romaine lettuce
- ¼ cup shaved parmesan
- Salt and pepper
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 pickle
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 small red pepper (medium hot)
- Cover the brussels sprouts in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in a moderate oven for about 40 minutes until crispy. Allow to cool.
- Meanwhile fry the bacon and chop the lettuce. Combine lettuce, pomegranate, Parmesan and bacon (once cooled) in a large salad bowl.
- For the dressing, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, pickle and small red pepper in a food processor until smooth.
- Add brussel sprouts to the bowl and stir through dressing.
- Serve with some crusty sourdough.