On the downtown C, a couple boards with their two young children and a Hello Kitty coloring book. The daughters could be twins, with their round faces and frizzy hair. One wears yellow overalls that contrasts her dark skin; the other, a white dress. Their parents are the opposite, with dark clothes and white skin. One of the fathers sings a jazzed-up version of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" while the other keeps time by snapping along. The girls giggle and clap, and the whole train has turned their attention to watch this family of four as they head to the museum for the day.
On the bench next to them, a young man in a Yankees cap and Syracuse shirt that barely hid a sleeve of tattoos on his left shoulder smiles and asks how old the girls are. The fathers chat with him and the girls continue coloring as a few others on the train join in the conversation with this friendly group.
When the train arrives at 81st, the family leaves. The little girls wave goodbye to the smiling strangers, and the doors close. The train starts up again and the man in the Syracuse shirt pulls a book--Getting the Love You Want--out of his backpack. Self-consciously, he opens it.