man on train.

Be careful where you point that thing.

When I was little, my mother used to defend the  invasive gaze of passers-by with one simple explanation, “They stare because you’re so beautiful.”  I accepted this, I took it in and let it rattle around in my little girl mind and I decided after much application that it made perfect sense.  Now that I’m older I understand the world’s obsession with beautiful children.  You see their small beauty bursting with potential, their perfection frozen for a moment in time; its awe-inspiring.  However, as we grow older the last thing we want to experience is someone sitting across from us staring without end.  Not a slow wave ‘hello’ to break the confusion, not even a blink.

Today on the train, a man stared at me from Fulton street to Kingston Throop (20 minutes on the subway).  He sat shiftless, eyes blankly unfastened targeting my face for the entire ride home.  I tried to focus on something else…the lyrics of Karen O. and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs blasting through my ear-buds; the sailboat rhythm of the train as it bustled underground; the lines on the palms of my hands.  No matter what I did to distract myself, I found that looking up to see if he was still glaring at me was totally irresistible.  He stared as people got on and off the train, his eyes creating a focal point in between the motion that separated us.  He stared as the train operator announced a delay.  He stared as a mariachi band toting wooden instruments and wearing charro outfits began to play loudly with incredible balance in the middle of the aisle. Nothing seemed to distract his mission.

After a while his ogling became hypnotic.  It became ubiquitous, reeling me in like a vacuum, calling me to its mercy.  I was one stop away from home when I finally conceded.  For an entire four minutes I surrendered to his menacing vortex.  We sat four feet across from each other staring relentlessly and I was determined to force his eyes to the subway floor.  As we pulled up to Kingston I realized two things.  One, that he was clearly retarded.  And two, that I had met  defeat.  I buckled and decided to take the consolation prize.  Before standing up I crossed my eyes, scrunched my lips inward like a whistle and held the face until the subway came to a halt and the doors opened.  As I stood up to meet the platform and the summer heat outside I could hear the man laughing to himself in deep bubbly chuckles.

He brought the pain, but I arose victorious.

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2 thoughts on “man on train.

  1. Your ‘title’ scared me………………………thank god you didn’t lay your hands on him, having perhaps a ‘Barbara’ moment.

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