Demitasse #11


Demitasse:  a sip of the Compendium

September 1999


Demitasse is a free sip of the sardonic social commentary and reports of real life weird that fill the Ladies' Fetish & Taboo Society Compendium of Urban Anthropology (the Compendium).


(c) copyright Kathy Biehl 1999



We're tracking that rough beast as it slouches towards Bethlehem to be born. At the rate he's going, he'll be at the finish line long before La Streisand takes the stage for the Millennium Concert this New Year's Eve.  Check his progress at

Think you've seen the Beast move? Send your sightings to kbiehl AT




Sometimes, life's little mysteries do get solved, if you wait long enough.

I'm standing on a subway platform in Manhattan's financial district one Thursday evening about 8, long after rush hour has subsided, when an enigma lumbers down the track and grinds to a halt. It's a short train of unmarked yellow cars, all but one of which are completely enclosed, like pieces from some giant's Lionel set.  Only one car, near the middle, has a window, a long, short rectangle above my eye level. The inside of the car is well-lit: I can see the top of a cluttered bulletin board and, occasionally, the top of a couple of heads. A train-robbing scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid comes to mind.

I look inquisitively at my companion, who's lived in Manhattan for two decades. He has no idea what's inside. A door opens. An overweight white haired guy steps out far enough to make his accessory visible to all: a gun and holster. He looks both ways, steps back inside and closes the door. Tops of heads move about in the window. Prisoners, maybe? my friend suggests.

I tell my companion about a service that my personal life commentator Rex and I wished for years ago. Wouldn't it be great if there were a phone number you could call and ask, "What was that?" The "What Was That?" operator would explain all manner of urban mysteries, from big booming noises to why traffic backed up on the freeway and then cleared, for no visible reason, to what the helicopter was doing circling my apartment complex for 30 minutes the night before.

This time I get my wish. "It's the money train!" a man exclaims at the other end of the platform. "It's the money train!" he yells, gesticulating to his female companion with movements that border on modern dance. "Look, it's the money train!"

The doors open again, and this time a parade pours out. Two by two they come, all identically dressed, not in prison garb but light blue shirts, dark blue pants and holsters. Big, heavy pistol-packing holsters. The people peel off in both directions and disappear from view, the doors close and the mystery train moves on.

Our train arrives. After we sit down and the train begins moving, a familiar voice rings from the far end of the car. "It was the money train! We saw the money train!"


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