Friday, January 2, 2009

Passing Time with Strangers

I have long since resolved to always have a book on hand whenever I take mass transit.  The trouble I have with my eyes on the sidewalk triples when I'm placed in a cramped car with a work wearied legion.  So my eyes stay glued to the page, except for the occasional busker, hammer fight, or drunk-girl late-night throwdown.  

This really just gives my peripheral vision a great work out.  I'm able to read and process what's on the page while still taking in small glimpses of my surroundings.   I get to wonder for a minute why a girl in head-to-toe make-up wouldn't paint her fingernails.  Or like the time I was reading Franny and Zooey on the A train back from SOHO-- in the olden days when I lived in the tippy-top of Manhattan-- and attempt to keep my eye on the page even though a crew of high latino gay twenty-somethings decide to populate the seats around me and just stare at me. This one was bizarre enough to make me wonder 1) am I also high? 2) do gay latino twenty-somethings usually travel in packs? 3)why is Mrs. Glass in the bathroom with Zooey?  

There were also the kids with the camcorder on their way to the beach who took the time to turn the camera on each of the other passengers and narrated their assessment: Here we found her, fresh from the milk carton-- about the skinny midwestern girl with Manic Panic hair passed out with her head against the window; Powder-- about the pale bald man sitting next to me; Clark Kent-- about me; Chef Boyardee-- about the fat man over-flowing the seat perpendicular to mine, my knee was inescapably nestled into his warm soft thigh... and on and on.  And no one said a thing back to them. 

The pack of gay latino guys stayed on the train for about eight stops-- no short amount of time to be stared at.  The girl with the unpainted nails stayed on for one stop.  I got off of the train before the beach kids.  The people disappear, along with the imagined scenario that explains them. 

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