Imagine the scene: Chambers Street, platform of the uptown 2/3 express. My legs are trembling after a double, my quads sore from my early morning pre-double jog. It’s late, the train isn’t bustling, and I can see the lights of the train coming north in the tunnel. Sweet seat sanctity, I think to myself. I snag a coveted orange square, and let my muscles relax slowly as the train chugs me home.
And then we hit 14th Street, where people rush in. Spots are few and far between now, so we’re trying to use all available surface area. With nary a “Pardon” between them, my comfort zone is invaded in a belligerent manner. BOOM! An obese white older man in a Burlington Coat Factory original slops over the ridge on my left side, thigh to thing, his low metabolism penetrating my zen aura and grossing me out. BOOM! A plus-plus-size black girl oozes over the ridge on my right size, legs akimbo to let a stomach hang loose over high waisted leggings that are NOT one size fits all. My arms, not particularly invasive, are being forced inwards into a position that even a month of Bikram hadn’t allowed. My hips, well within the confines of what $2.50 buys me, are being ground down as the invaders expand into themselves.
Fuck it, I say to myself. And fuck both of you. I stand, and spend the long haul uptown doing Kegels, reading literature, and seething.
For those of you who were not previously made aware by my belligerent harping, I started running last year. After 26 years of passionately refusing to run for anything (except, ironically, the damn train), I decided that I wasn’t getting any younger, and I started training for a 5k, which led to a 10k, a half marathon, and now the 26.2 mile horror story known as the 2014 NYC Marathon. It was neither easy nor enjoyable, and after over a year of doing it regularly, I can categorically assure you that I hate it just as much now as I did in 2012. Every thumping, body-hurting step strikes me not just physically but morally. I think of all the people who have ever had to run, not by choice but by necessity: From a robber, from a dictator, to catch a plane, to escape peril. I do not feel smug when I run; I feel wobbly. I do not get a runner’s high; I get pissed off. I’ve started walking, not from fatigue but from fury. But I keep running.
In conjunction with this, I also eat in a way that, though not healthy, per se, is not unreasonably disgusting. Sure, I hit up McDonalds when I’m drunk, and my favorite food is The Eggroll. But I also love Brussels sprouts, enjoy smoothies, and prefer whole wheat muffins to glazed doughnuts.
A main side effect of eating semi-well and exercising regularly is that I am not fat. One would think that, with all the anti-diabetes ads, the vigilante movement against soda, and the general populous being aware of the dangers of fried food, I would be commended for my efforts and rewarded for my size. Instead, I am constantly assaulted for it. Large people sit on me all the time. Wide people think that I don’t need a full seat on the subway and take up half of mine, which would be fine if I got charged $1.25 but I don’t so it’s not. But my absolutely favorite is the men who are so goddamn disgustingly overweight that they go spread eagle over THREE seats, and then look at ME like I’m the asshole when I ask them politely to move over.
A year or so ago, after a decent period of not smoking weed, I got really high. Chronic smoking has never agreed with me; I become lethargic, amorphous, and insatiably starving. Occasional smoking, on the other hand, does that swirly mind shit, and so on this occasion I wrote a blog in which I listed all the different ideas that curled through my brain that night. Though most of them were completely forgettable, there’s one that’s remained with me since: A brilliant subway campaign called “If You Don’t Fit, You Don’t Sit.”
IYDFYDS aims to combat corporal seat spillover on the subway in order to both reward the more lithe New Yorkers for their successful efforts at maintaining a reasonable width, and to incentivize a health-positive regime for those have fallen to the wayside (waysides, in many cases). Translated into layman’s terms, fat motherfuckers wouldn’t be allowed to sit on the subway. This would be successful for several reasons.
1) Standing burns more calories. By standing instead of melting, people would be inadvertently exercising while commuting.
2) Acceptably-sized commuters would be happier with transit, and thus the general vibe of the subway would be more pleasant.
3) The shame of not being allowed to sit would encourage people to go on some sort of non-fried-chicken diet that would beget weight loss and thus return to them their sitting rights.
I understand this may sound slightly farfetched or insensitive. Detractors will say that “skinny doesn’t equal healthy” and “it should be a thyroid issue and she’s a vegan”. This is all well and good. But that doesn’t mean that the hard-working people of the city should be forced to suffer because you can’t fit into one seat. Obese air travelers have to buy two seats. Obviously you can’t swipe yourself into the subway twice (though some people have to use the service door). All I’m saying is that If You Don’t Fit, You Don’t Sit would help the City of New York more than hurt it. Until then, I’m riding spread eagle, and I ain’t moving.