Monday, October 25, 2004

Circus train

When you're planning on taking three days of vacation -- how dare you! -- you end up working late, late, late on the nights before you actually escape.

And when you get on a late-night train home, you invariably share the ride with a menagerie of oddballs.

So tonight I get on a relatively empty car (one of the benefis of late-night train rides is you get a seat all to yourself) and take out my New Yorker for some nice light reading on the trip home. I'm enjoying yet another verbal evisceration of our butt-stupid president when out of the corner of my eye I spot The Conductor. And I'm not talking about the train conductor. This guy was just your garden-variety twitchy freak who needed to be kicked by an angry donkey weird person with a tic: He waved his hand. A lot. He was sitting across the aisle from me with his Jake-facing arm draped across the back of the empty seat next to him. And he was using it to conduct an imaginary symphony. Or punctuate an animated conversation in his head. Or swat a swarm of clumsy bees. Or dry his nails. In any case, his fucking hand would not. stop. waving. And it summoned in me the need. to. kill.

Fortunately for The Conductor, my attention was diverted at the Belmont stop by the arrival of The Hoodlum. This wannabe-badass who was so, so, so obviously gay slumped onto the train mumbling incoherently but loudly into a cell phone, and when he finished his conversation (and how did anyone involved in that conversation know it was finished? nothing was being said) he pulled on his earphones and blasted his Angry Disaffected Urban Kid Music so loud it actually interrupted The Conductor's symphony. Rotten kids.

At the next stop, Sullen Lady and her Pleading Boyfriend got up to leave. She'd been self-hugging and boyfriend-ignoring since the stop after I got on. But that didn't stop him from working to get on her good side if the drama queen even had one. And when he offered his hand to help her up from her seat at their final destination, she sat there defiantly in her baby-pink car coat, ignoring his hand and standing up All By Herself once the train came to a complete stop. Good girl!

As the train pulled us out of their station and away from their Epic Drama, the door on the front end of our car slammed open, and The Maverick appeared. (You see, there are tons of signs forbidding people from traveling from car to car while the train is moving -- except in extreme emergencies -- but those rules don't apply to everyone. At least once a week, someone in The Maverick family makes a big show of emerging from one end of my car and clomping down the aisle only to disappear through the door at the other end. In the mean time, those of us who have been so unfairly prevented from embarking on such adventures look on and hope that this time -- oh please oh please oh please -- The Maverick will slip and be crushed to a painful, bloody death as he travels between cars. But we never get our wish.) Tonight, the part of The Maverick was dramatically played by a limping lothario in a knee-length duster and jaunty fedora. But he didn't smell bad, so he literally lacked the required air of authenticity.

Mercifully, by the time The Maverick had disappeared into a bloody pulp beneath the wheels, my stop came into view. One whoosh of the door, and I left this chapter of the circus life behind me.

And then I raced home to blog about it.


Brechi said...

yikes...i think Sullen would have bothered me the most. hate those.

Ryan "Cookie"Hale said...

Ah, I miss the train.

Hugo said...

All that entertainment but I still don't know where you are headed for your 3-day vacation!

Will said...

Jake, your world is so wonderfully full of theater!

David said...

But think of the oh-so inconvenient delays if the Maverick were actually to fall..., I thought I was the only that gave these people names. Since I don't ride the train very often I now do this in the gym.