It could have been the magazine article I was reading about the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. Or the Muslim man with the skull cap a few rows over in the train. But it occurred to me that sitting directly across from me was a man who could have easily worked on a Hollywood film as a clichéd American version of the secret sleeper cell terrorist. The one that blends in though not quite blending in because obviously he has something to hide.
He was actually sleeping. Not the usual homeless man huddled into the corner sleeping. His head was drooped down, occasionally bobbing, his shoulders were slumped over and his legs slightly more open that usual.
His head was crowned with a thick mane of hair. Wavy, not quite curly, but black and plentiful. It was long enough to appear unkempt and unstyled, much like the full beard on his face. His thick eyebrows and dark circles under the eyes did nothing for his perceived state of well-being. Add the few pockmarks on his cheeks and the occasional pimple dotting his forehead, and this picture of a tired young man with too many burdens starts to appear easily.
For a Hollywood movie cliché, he certainly dressed the part as well. The jacket was this olive green with military inspired touches. Though it was really more of a field or hunter’s jacket in origin. It was made from a thin corduroy fabric, and had two small snap-flap patch pockets on the chest, and two larger similar ones lower down. The shoulder epaulets weren’t functional and neither were the tabs near the cuffs, though those did have two small metal rivets on them. The brass zipper went all the up to the stand collar where there was a zipper that hid the stowaway hood.
Adding to the look. He had on a grey chunky wool sweater. It was actually a full-zip turtleneck, and since he had it zipped up most of the way, the large collar almost covered his entire neck and made the collar of his jacket seem small in comparison.
His thin brown corduroy pants matched the brown leather athletic-inspired sneakers he was wearing - my guess; Skechers.
He did have a simple gold wedding band on his ring finger, but nothing else really.
Given that it was rush-hour on the subway. The man was sleeping, disheveled and traveling without a messenger bag or backpack, I could see the NYPD doing some racial profiling and keeping a closer eye on him. That would be sad but true. Though if they did watch him, they’d know that he was a little too stylized to be a real threat to anyone.
After all, if you’re wearing a jacket that looks like it could have been a knock-off of a Ralph Lauren or Belstaff jacket, you probably are just a cliché and nothing more.