This happens every year.
I ride the subway to and from work during the winter months. Lately I’ve noticed that I’m one of the older people. It’s mostly kids in their twenties. At thirty-six I don’t feel too old to take the train. In NYC you have people in walkers dropping dead on the D line. But here in Chicago the “L” (short for “elevated train”) is a young man’s game. Even the pretty women look too young. They’re twenty-five but look like children. I’m getting older.
Most of my friends who are married with children have moved to the suburbs for some yard and quiet. I don’t blame them. The suburbs are a place where you can focus on family. Who wants to navigate a stroller through Wrigleyville streets during the hour after a Cubs victory? Dudes with painted chests are heaving into sewer grates. It’s funny, for sure. But maybe not ideal for a lactating mother.
Oh, by the way in eighth grade our school hired this performance artist to work with us to do a show. I was chosen along with about ten others and we created a live piece to go along with some dopey Shel Silverstein poems. The artist was this woman that wore this spandex uni and at the end of each practice her front was soaked at the nips. I didn’t understand what was going on at the time. I just assumed she had a sweat thing going on. Anyway, artists are weird.
I’ve written about not being one of those dicks who takes a seat on the train. Stand up if you’re a guy. I ride forty-five minutes each way and have sat down maybe ten times in twelve years. But, as manly and rugged as I am for standing, I am carrying two bags. One is the backpack that I stuff my dog. Technically she’s not allowed on the train but technically she’s not allowed in the grocery store either and I violate that rule weekly. But because I only want to seem like half a weirdo, I don’t wear the backpack when on the train.
There’s a few reasons for this. First, it takes up space. We’re usually crammed in pretty tight and I don’t want to be banging my dog’s skull against some dude’s iPad. Yes we’re all impressed he have the WSJ app loaded up for all to see. The second reason is I wear a suit to work. Nothing looks dorkier than a guy in a suit with a backpack. Lastly, I don’t want to be the guy who’s like, “Hey look at my cute tiny dog in the backpack!” I’ll let iPad guy with the Beats Audio headphones get all the attention.
Also I carry, and I’m not exaggerating or joking, a blue tote bag. This houses my lunch, my keys, a to-do notebook, and some random papers.
There’s no pockets, zippers, or anything resembling masculinity. I had a steak knife in there up until yesterday when I saw the blade poking out of the side. I stuffed it in there a few weeks ago to cut a sandwich at work and forgot to take it out. I’d say the odds are good I nicked a few passengers without noticing.
So, between the blue tote bag and the dog backpack I have some cargo. Still I stand. I put these both between my legs. They’re just a little too wide for a normal stance, so I end up wider than I’d like. It’s like I’m starting to go into a groin stretch. I’m sure it looks real normal.
Once again this post totally got away from me. My intention was to write about the cute girl with the nose piercing that I see almost every day. She gets on my train and has been doing so for a good year now. We’ve never spoken and I’m not interested in talking with her, but I’d love it if we gave each other a tip of the cap each morning. In my fantasy world I pull her aside and say, “Hey, nose-stud, every time you get on the train, wink at me and nod your head knowingly. In return I’ll make room over by me for you to stand so you never again have to feel a stranger’s erection against your back. I take care of my own.”
Note – “my own” meant “my friends and family” not “my privates.”
But these things never go well. The moment I say, “Hey, I’m going to talk to you now which nobody else does to each other on the train! Don’t be weirded out that seventeen other people are hearing our conversation,” she’d think I was hitting on her and then it would be awkward every morning. Or maybe she’s start going to a different car – the ultimate rejection.
So, I’m just going to keep standing with a dog between my legs, a tote next the that, and a spread eagle stance on a crowded train. I’ll keep my mouth shut and my “Hey, I know you!” smiles to myself. Or maybe I’ll talk to her if for no other reason that to report back to you guys. If my next post is, “Pepper Spray Doesn’t Do Dick” than you know I tried.