On the appointed day (Sunday, January 12th), I hopped on a New Jersey Transit train (while wearing pants) and headed to Hoboken, next taking the PATH into Manhattan. Easing my way into the situation, I opted to have lunch before the NPSR at the Maid Cafe NY, a Japanese theme cafe with "professionally trained servers dressed in cute maid outfits." (Technically, they were wearing no pants.)
They weren't kidding.
It felt a little like I was in an anime, but the beef bowl and the mango smoothie were very good, and the maids were friendly and sweet, and I enjoyed my visit there. The cafe was also a short walk away from Foley Square, my chosen meeting point (of seven around the city); turns out another soon-to-be pantsless rider was in the cafe at the same time I was, although neither he nor I realized then that we'd both be doing the NPSR.
As the gathering in the square grew, I found myself explaining to a passing couple just what it was that we were there for, and (along with two pretty girls who were also doing the ride for the first time) trying to convince them to join us. Heh-heh. They declined, although I think I could've gotten her to do it; she was already familiar with the ride, whereas he kept mishearing me ("No PATH? No Pets?"). Finally, Charlie Todd of prank collective Improv Everywhere and his comrades got the party started, explained the procedure, and broke us into groups, to ride in different cars on different subway lines. I was in group 5, which rode the fifth car of the uptown E train from the World Trade Center station, and we agreed ahead of time in what order we'd be taking our pants off, and how many people at each stop. I shared a bemused chuckle with a woman sitting across from me as we watched someone else on the train show off his boxers; her chuckle turned into a surprised laugh when, as the doors closed at 14th Street, I kicked off my sneakers and depantsed myself!
My two co-conspirators (a young couple) and I got off at 23rd, the next stop, to await the next uptown E train amidst a cool draft. I pulled out my copy of the Oatmeal's "Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underwear" and began to read, and the book got more laughs once it was noticed. A large number of pantsless folk descended upon the Lexington Avenue stop, and we switched to a downtown 6, headed for Union Square. Along the way, I was told (not for the first time in my life) that I looked like Christopher Walken.
I ended up not squeezing onto the packed 6 before the doors closed, so I found myself the only person not wearing pants who waited for the next 6. No matter, there were other pantsless partiers already on that train when it arrived, and once we made it to the Union Square station, the place was still a madhouse! Coincidentally, I bumped into the two pretty girls from earlier (sadly, both wearing pants again at this point), and the prettier of the two (such amazing eyes) asked to get a picture of me with the Oatmeal book, to which I gladly agreed. A few minutes later, I had several more photos taken, including this one by Peshean Zhang (thanks, man!):
Penguin boxers. Don't hate.
While I thought about attending the after-party, I figured I'd best start heading for home, so I put my jeans back on and emerged into the asylum that was Union Square at that point. It was obvious to me that a lot of people took part in the No Pants Subway Ride solely to have attention lavished upon them, and a lot of other people (young men, mostly) attended solely to see women in panties. Possibly for the first time. But, hey, it's a free country, and anyway there were still plenty of us just in it for the laughs. And there were a lot of laughs. Not to say that I didn't enjoy seeing women in panties... but I also enjoyed seeing other people's reactions to us pantsless. The prank is much less of a prank these days, considering how well-publicized the ride is, but there were still plenty of surprised people on the subway, and that made it well worth it. Will I do it again next year? Probably.
At 71, he was the oldest guy at Foley Square