I am immortal.
About an hour ago something happened to me that will make me famous. I now know two phrases that will be mentioned in my obituary, and that my obituary will appear in at least one newspaper.
What I have done to date doesn’t matter. What I do the rest of my life won’t matter. Tonight I accomplished something that will be noted for decades. People will speak of my feat for decades, and even after my name is forgotten, further generations will speak of it. Like “Wrong Way” Corrigan I will become an urban legend.
I also know that for the rest of my life I will be able to tell a story that will make people laugh, though I will have a hard time telling it without laughing myself. I have the ultimate cocktail party greeting, a surefire opener.
About an hour ago someone uttered a simple three word sentence that caused me to start laughing. I have never laughed so hard in my life, and I know I will never laugh as hard again. I was laughing at the top of my voice. Tears came to my eyes. At times I could barely stay on my feet and so had to lean against the wall. I pounded on windows. I looked this way and that.
There wasn’t a person in sight, which made me laugh even harder. I expect I came as close to dying of laughter as is humanly possible. I am writing this in part to record my feat, in case I do die of laughter within the next few hours.
I went to a New York Yankee game this evening. I boarded a Metro North train to take me home. I noted there were no other passengers on the car, so I had little trouble finding a seat.
I knew the train was going to make all the local stops to Chappaqua, so I sat back and enjoyed the ride.
As we approached the first stop, a conductor appeared. He informed me that it would be a short ride.
After we left the first stop, I heard the conductor say that the next three stops would be Scarsdale, Hartsdale, and then White Plains. Yet we sped right through Scarsdale and Hartsdale. As we approached White Plains I went to the door to see just where I was on the train. The exit at Chappaqua is near the end of the train. I saw that I was at the wrong end, so I walked forward toward the front of the train.
I went through two or three empty cars until I saw the conductor in the car ahead. He gave me a wave and a smile. When I entered the car I saw a single passenger in the middle of the car so I went over and sat near him.
He got off at North White Plains. I knew I was close to home, with only stops at Valhalla, Hawthorne and Pleasantville before I would be in Chappaqua.
Within a few seconds I heard the most memorable announcement I have ever heard on a train bound for Chappaqua:
Conductor: Next stop, Chappaqua.
Conductor: One For Chappaqua
ONE FOR CHAPPAQUA!
I was the only passenger on the train, and now knew it was going to go directly to Chappaqua. I was about to set the land speed record for traveling from North White Plains to Chappaqua, going at an average speed of over sixty miles per hour.
I started laughing. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I laughed all the way down the steps at the Chappaqua Station, all the way across the parking lot to my car, and all the way home. I stopped only when I entered the house, since my wife was asleep, but I am smiling as I write this.
Generations from now, especially when a Chappaqua-bound train stalls in the Bronx, with no air condittioning during a beastly day in August, with the conductor announcing that the train will be delayed for at least an hour, people will start talking about a story they once heard.
They will tell of someone who went to a Yankee game and was the only passenger on the train when it left North White Plains, so the train went directly to Chappaqua. Some will claim the story is apocryphal. They will be rebutted by others who will say that he wrote down the story, to confirm that it was true.
That is why when my obituary is written, I know it will begin with:
Dave “One For Chappaqua” Shields died last night…
As the train neared the station I knew I had to calm myself lest I fall onto the tracks. As the train drew to a stop, I heard the last message from the conductor, and started laughing so hard I almost didn’t make it off the train.
His words will also probably appear in my obituary. In case they don’t, here they are:
Conductor: Chappaqua. Have a good day, sir.