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Archive | 12:01 am

The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of the N Train Sea Beach

27 Oct

October 27, 2011

It was Friday and I was heading home, and while that was a good enough reason to be in a good mood I was in a particularly good mood. The last hour and a half of work was largely work- and boss- free. I’d spent the last half hour at work hanging out with one wonderful coworker at her desk and was taking the train home with two others. It was fun.

Now I could be a namedropper and tell you their names but what good would it do you? You don’t know them. Unless you are a coworker of mine, in which you can figure it out yourself. And if you happen to be one of those people I spent the time with then you already know who you are so there’s no point in telling you your own name. Plus if this ends up on Wikileaks no one gets hurt.

We were on the N train and it wasn’t too crowded. Although we were standing it wasn’t packed. There was plenty of elbow room. As we were talking someone entered the train, as many other people did, and we took no notice of him. As I later saw, he was around 50, shorter than me, grey-haired and dressed cleanly, if not neatly. He was pushing some sort of wheeled luggage, or so I thought.

I was near the center of the car and suddenly from one end there came loud music, some sort of romantic ballad was playing from a speaker. The luggage the guy was pushing held a CD player and though I still could not see the man, I heard him.

He was playing a bugle. He was accompanying the music on the CD with his own bugle playing. And then I lost it. I was already in a good, slightly goofy mood, and I just started laughing, and that was bad because I was in most people’s line of sight. I was cracking up and trying to hide my face in my arm (which was holding the pole) and just couldn’t do it.

The man made his way through the car. He was pushing the luggage with one hand, playing the bugle with the other and, with the same hand that was pushing the luggage, waving a CD, presumably his. Try to picture this. With one hand. The CD was between two fingers and his other fingers and thumb were on the luggage handle. I know what you are thinking- how did he push the valves on the bugle if he was holding it with one hand? I don’t think he did. Now I know as much about music as the next guy, provided that the next guy knows nothing about music, but I don’t think he had to use the valves. The guy was actually pretty good, if kind of loud. But the whole thing struck me as absurd. We couldn’t talk over the music, and all my friends saw was me trying not to laugh out loud, and nearly failing. Suddenly this train, which was in a long stretch of tunnel so there wasn’t a stop right ahead, had become a lounge. Romantic mood music with a bugle (!) accompaniment was filling our ears.

I never considered the bugle a romantic instrument before and I still don’t. I was expecting him to burst into Reville or Taps any second. And either of those would have totally killed the mood.

As I said the man made his way through the car and where did he stop? In the middle, of course. Right in front of me. So there I am, right behind a guy playing the bugle to the subtle strains of romantic music with all eyes (those that weren’t looking straight down) looking at him and seeing me right behind him almost convulsing with restrained laughter trying to escape.

The music faded, the song ended, and I just as I was sure it was over, the guy yelled “Tango!” and a new track started.

OK, I lost it, I just laughed out loud and thank God when the man yelled “Tango!” he also started moving to the other end or I am not sure that he wouldn’t have brained me with his horn.

It didn’t help that my friends were laughing too.

At some point in the Tango (which sounded more or less like whatever he was playing before) he stopped playing and walked around asking for donations. At this point the CD was playing an accordion solo (seriously, an accordion solo in a Tango) and I pulled out my iPod and started tapping notes into it like a man possessed.

The train pulled into the next station, the bugler got off, my friend got a seat, and I couldn’t stop smiling the whole way home.

Best train ride ever.

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