Sunday, June 15, 2003

terms of endearment v. bridget jones

the train to philly only broke down once today, in a densely wooded middle-of-nowhere type area. behind me, a travelling salesman in his 70s said, "uh oh! it's probably terrorists." he had already incurred my wrath by chattering loudly and inanely the whole trip, at one point saying, "everything's virtual now. it's a virtual world and no one has any real sense. the only people with any sense anymore are the senior citizens". i pitied the beleagured woman sitting next to him whose murmured responses i never made out, until i realized she was his wife.

immediately everyone drew cellphones from scabbards and made the same call: "hi xxxxxx. no, i'm still on the train. it's stopped, can you believe it? i guess i'm going to be late ..." too bad you can't send out generic cell-phone calls like mass emails. some people added spice, moaning and wiping their brows: "the electricity is out! it's BROILING in here!"
the travelling salesman remained cheerfully morbid. "maybe they'll make us walk to the nearest town. maybe jesse james is robbing our conductor. anyway, this is nothing. one time, in world war two ..."

a metroliner pulled up next to us, as if offering moral support, and in seconds the lights and air conditioning returned. our conductor, who didn't seem to have suffered an interaction with bandits or who otherwise was speaking coherently from underneath the gag they'd put on him, had told us to prepare to change over to the other train. i'd been reading david sedaris and i'd been jealous of all the exciting adventurous things he was writing about. part of me leapt at the chance. instead i found my seat again, next to the puffy-haired old woman with an eastern european accent who, coincidentally, was also named ester.
unlike me, however, she was enthralled by the travelling salesman and, equally enthralled to have a new audience, he hung over her seat regaling her. finally i couldn't take it. i begged god silently for another electricity outage, for the ability to change trains in the middle of the tracks, and went god didn't come through, i moved to the back of the train and stood reading naked in peace.

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