My friend Stephanie W. says,
Highlight of my metro ride:
There is a polite, unassuming, seven-year-old reading a book. There are also five kids who are yelling, standing on the seats, not being disciplined by mom, and generally making everyone around them hate life. The unassuming boy turns to the others and says “Would you please shut the fuck up.”
He gets scolded by his mother for language but the smile at the corner of her mouth and the stifled laughter of all those nearby speak volumes.
Good job, kid.
The child speaks for many thousands of commuter-bookworms insufficiently adorable to get away with it.
Hey, you know—
You know, they always say—
You know what they say:
The nearest thing to human flesh—
(Here he trips on the stairs, loses and quickly recovers his neon glasses, stands, at last, on street level, and surveys the predawn sidewalk.)
The nearest thing to the flesh of a man is the flesh of a pig.
Total breakdown in rush-hour passenger exchange—folding bike backed up on on a wheelchair backed up on late-for-first-period Berkeley High students—caused by an onboarding couple* refusing to let go of each others’ hands. On the platform, I and a dozen other waiting commuters watch incredulously as they brace their interlaced fingers (hers sporting the rock) around the door frame. “Hold on!” he says, and she whimpers like a dog.
* Not this one, but they are now all tied for Worst Person Ever.
"It’s been a while, huh?" Granola variety. Gentle face and an armful of sunflowers.
"Wow, yeah." Theater-tech type. Pink eye-shadow and a choker necklace. "Gosh, you know, I saw you on the train, but I just thought you were a dude, ha. Ha!"
This is wildly off-base, but Sunflowers takes it on the nose. “Aw,” she says, still smiling, “nope!”
"Oops," shrugs Theater-tech. "Well, anyway, nice flowers."
"Thanks! OKC, you know? I hope she likes them!"
"Mmm, yeah, funny, I’m not really on that thing any more. I mean, since the girlfriend. Actually, our first date was right after we … our first … two dates. So it’s been two years. Actually."
"Aw," says Sunflowers, "cute! So did you guys do anything for Pride?"
"Some things, yeah, but I had to work on Dyke March. Ma-jor bummer."
"Yeah, so mostly we just stayed in and cuddled."
"Yeah, um, anyway, this is me. Great to see you! Hope your OKC date isn’t that bad!"
"My brother was all like, I want to marry a girl who’s a virgin. And my grandma was like, well, what if she was raped? And I was like, grandma! What the fuck?"
"You said, ‘What the fuck?’ to your grandma?"
"I might have, dude, I mean, I cuss at my grandma all the time."
This guy is playing a take-over-the-world type of game on his phone. It prompts him to “Modify Genetic Code” of a double helix drifting across the screen. He swipes through to the next step, which is, “Name Your Plague.”
I watch him tap out, “D-U-C-K-F-A-C-E.”
Suffocation-hazard-packed morning train. A couple is exchanging Eskimo kisses over my left shoulder, her hair brushing my neck with each little sally onto his sweaty face. They are thirtysomething, neither young nor old enough for this bullshit to conceivably be construed as cute; furthermore their conversation has not strayed from the subject of teeth-whitening methods for the past four stops. I wish them imminent and acrimonious divorce.