The Segway first appeared in front of the B-61 bus stop on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg about a month and a half ago.
Riding it was a short, thin lad sporting an uneven bowl cut. He looked about 15, as though he might have torn himself away from a Dungeons & Dragons game, swung by the barber shop, picked up a windbreaker and parachute pants at Beacon’s Closet, and resolved to cruise up and down the street in search of some would-be model who would throw her panties to the wind for an opportunity to ride on his Segway.
It made a slight whirring sound as he drew to a stop. He stepped off and pushed at the bridge of his glasses. He looked determined, like a cowboy stepping off his horse. Seriously. He lifted his leg much higher than necessary as he disembarked.
A guy from the ITASP* (Impossibly Tall and Skinny Planet) moved toward him. “Hey, man, can I try it out?” he said.
D&D boy’s eyes looked big and owlish behind his glasses. He hesitated, as though he might hop back on the Segway and continue his quest elsewhere.
“Just for a minute,” ITASP said, “C’mon, guy.”
D&D pushed up his glasses again. “Just around here,” he said. He moved aside. Then, as ITASP sped down the street, he called, “Not too fast, man. Stay around here.” He crossed his arms and tried to look casual, but his jaw was clenched. I could practically hear his heart racing.
ITASP rode several blocks, almost down to the park. D&D watched, shielding his eyes as if from the sun. (It was after dark.) ITASP turned around and came back. “Relax,” he said. “And thanks.”
As he stepped aside, a thin, dark-haired girl with a puff-sleeved jacket and a pretty face materialized. “Hey, can I ride it now?” She moved in close to D&D, who backed away as though she were an apparition. He tried to say something but his voice creaked.
“Sure,” he said, finally.
The girl sped down the street, and he called softly after her, “Careful, not too fast.” She raced down toward the park, picking up speed. D&D wrung his hands.
When she passed the park border and turned down toward the Orthodox church, he yelled, “Hey, can you turn around now?”
She kept on. He waited. One, two, three minutes. He looked at his watch and yelled again, “hey, come back. Please.”
We’d been pretending to read our books, watch for the bus, but we watched him openly now. We were all losers waiting to take the bus to Greenpoint. We were filled with pity for those with no transportation. Also, we were bored and had no shame.
He looked around at all of us, at the sea of concerned faces, and broke into a run.
The bus came before he reached the park. We boarded and the bus lurched forward. We passed D&D, who kept running as we drove toward Greenpoint.
Today I saw D&D at the bus stop with the Segway again. Same windbreaker, same parachute pants, and some checkerboard vans with no socks.
A girl with short, blonde hair asked to ride. He let her.
* ITASP, (C) Mr. Maud, 2001.