"Welcome to the 13th Annual No Pants Subway Ride. This is for participants only, if you didn't come here to take off your pants... you're in the wrong place."
With military precision, instructions were meted out, through a megaphone, to the ebullient crowd of several hundred, assembled at Foley Square, one of several meeting places in this global event, now in 60 cities around the world, for the hour-long flash, or rather flasher, mob.
As a drone camera swooped over hundreds eager to drop trou, the rules were explained, numbered groups assembled by birth month, they were to board a designated subway train. Ours, led by Zach, #NPSR veteran and investment banker, was to board the fifth car of the 6 Train, go to 59th Street and then the N or R, back down to Union Square. The drill was. Once on the car, complete anonymity and straight faces are adhered to, as one person begins taking off their pants in front of the unsuspecting strap hangers, and then go about texting or reading a paper.
Because of my fairly discreet camera, I was allowed to observe, but mum was the word as one after another, pantless people propagated the subway system.
The brainchild of the annual event, Improv Everywhere, replete with mission statement...
The No Pants Subway Ride is an annual event staged by Improv Everywhere every January in New York City. The mission started as a small prank with seven guys and has grown into an international celebration of silliness, with dozens of cities around the world participating each year. The idea behind No Pants is simple: Random passengers board a subway car at separate stops in the middle of winter without pants. The participants do not behave as if they know each other, and they all wear winter coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. The only unusual thing is their lack of pants.
There was unbridled joy and acceptance and, not unlike Santacon, or a clothed person in a nudist colony, after awhile if you're wearing pants, you feel like the interloper.
The whole "action" only takes about an hour once it get underway. They asked at Foley Square for everyone to sit down if they had never done No Pants Subway Ride before, last ones standing had done it for all 13 years. Then they asked who came from the furthest away and one guy was from Liverpool, one from India and then someone yelled, "Uranus" garnering giggles at the double entendre...which, along with puns, were plentiful all day.
They asked who was the oldest, and I raised my hand, as I'm in my 70th year, but alas, I was not "participating," there was a 72-year-old... and perhaps if I start Pilates now, it will be on my bucket list next year. When asked who was the youngest, a couple of babies were held up, but the pregnant woman won hands down.
The best part was the faces of the riders on the train. One guy who was mesmerized by a couple of gorgeous girls in skimpy shorts: "Do you think any of them are single?" he said in a deadly serious tone.
It was at once inspiring and depressing, some pretty great derriere's out there. Note to self: "Join Weight Watchers and start working out!" There was a family from Japan, mother, father and baby in diaper, a couple of super star Victoria's Secret moms with kids clinging on to their legs which went on forever. There were guys in business suits wearing boxer shorts reading the Wall Street Journal, tattooed ladies, and my favorite, at the end: a guy in tightie whities. "You win," I yelled as he bounded up the subway stairs, disappearing into the crowd of Hare Krishna drummers at Union Square and then, just like Keyser Soze, as quickly as they appeared, they were gone.