12 noon, downtown 6 train.

A gorgeous blond woman is holding the hand of a tiny brunette who is decked out from head to toe in various shades of pink.

“I can read that! Don’t lean on door,” the tiny one pronounces. The subway car melts around her and we’re all grinning at each other.

“Oh, you’re a good reader!” the woman says. She has a slight accent, but I can’t place it. I wonder what the relationship is- an aunt? Former nanny? Mother who is 90% out of the picture?

“Let’s see what else you can read,” she says, her eyes scanning the ads. “How’s your Spanish?”
Obviously I think she’s kidding, making a joke towards the rest of us. But then she asks the girl something in broken Spanish, something that I miss.

Our Kindergarten hero stops, pauses; you can see her thinking. Then: “Hola!”

“Olvidas,” the woman says, “olvidas.” Now I recognize it: you forgot.

“I can pick you up!” the girl moves on. “I can pick up my friend in Kindergarten, all the way… tall to my head!” She mimics lifting someone up, bending backwards.

Tall to my head, I think. Good god, this is such a great age, as if I am qualified to use a word like this in such a context, as if I can separate this age from that age. But this age, Kindergarten or so, seems like it will be one of my favorites one day.

The little girl looks upwards, puckers her lips and makes kissing sounds. The woman complies, leaning down and kissing her on the forehead. Then she wraps herself around the woman’s leg, still looking up, and squeezes her eyes open and shut a few times in a row.

“You were flirding,” the woman says, mixing her ds and ts. I wonder what her maternal language is, one in which ds and ts get swapped around.

“What’s flirding?” the little girl asks, and the woman explains.

“It’s when you are blinking at someone like you just were doing to me.”

I think to myself that a 5-year old might be a bit young for this concept, that even I still have issues with knowing who’s flirting with me and when.

I follow them up the subway stairs out onto the street; the little girl loses her shoe halfway up the stairs and we’re stuck for a moment, paused for a pink ballet slipper. But we don’t mind. We're all still grinning, outwardly and inwardly. Despite their reputations, New Yorkers are just as prone to the charms of 5-year olds as anyone else.

1 comment:

Tyler said...

Even in the short time I've lived in NYC I've seen a number of amazing situations like this in the city and especially on the subway. It's nice that there are people, like you, that actually take the time to document them. Thank you.