Remember when you were a kid and had to travel somewhere, so your parents would be packing frantically while you laid face down on the stairs, pressing your forehead into the carpet, blocking everyone’s passage while groaning loudly? That’s how I’m feeling about writing this evening, like lying with my nose and cheeks squished against the keys would be preferable to typing out a post.
It’s not that I don’t have content. I’ve spent the past week and a half traveling about, alternating between terrorizing my sister and perfect strangers. It can be safely stated that I am a small town person. I’m meant for a slower, more familiar pace of life, where you know not only the cashier at the grocery store but two of their first cousins too.
The kind of behavior that is encouraged in a small town; skipping small talk and asking personal questions about another person’s family, might be viewed as rude or eccentric in the big smoke. So at home I am charming. When I visit the terrible metropolis empire, I am a weirdo that people ignore or move quickly away from.
To me cities are a soul strangling mix of noise and anonymity with a fierce underlying sense of competition. I suck at competing. It’s the primary reason why I chose to coach overgrown toddlers to ski. No one expects someone who recently looked kneecaps in the eye, to beat out other three year olds at whizzing down snow covered hills. The crowd just cheers if the little people make it to the bottom. Consequently in cities, when faced with the cold, indifferent looks of strangers as they bolt across loud, construction-congested streets, I start to question my life’s decisions. So I do what makes me feel good; I look for the bits of the world that make me happy and I comment on them.
I told a woman at the GO station that I didn’t think she was old enough to retire. As another lady passed me while boarding the train I commented that her dress was lovely. She ignored me. I chased down a woman wearing her toddler awkwardly in a poorly fitted carrier and offered to help adjust the straps. I smiled at the horrible skyscrapers even as they bared their metal and glass teeth at me. I sang my sweetest folk songs to comfort me and my son as the city’s desire to grow taller than the sky thundered around us in the form of bulldozers, cranes and drills as they erected endless series of towers.
When I tired of alarming passersby, I focused on my sister. Diana decided to accompany Mini-Tex and I on a visit to our grandmother’s assisted living home. “What is the food like?” my sister asked as we rode the subway there. “I’m not sure” I replied, “I’ve never eaten there”. After a second, Diana suggested that she thought the food would be soft. “Excellent” I replied, “Nothing beats a lunch of cream cheese, pudding and wet paper towels”.
Diana’s proclamation was correct. While tasty, everything in the dining room of the assisted living facility left one feeling as though their food had been pre-chewed. Mini-Tex didn’t mind in the least except for when I gave him what I thought were peaches. He spat them out forcefully and pulled a face. Surprised, I turned to my sister, “that’s strange, he likes peaches”. Diana then pointed out that Mini-Tex wasn’t a fan because the wobbly orange slices weren’t peaches but in fact apricots.
Sampling a piece, I realized the fruit was sour. “Let me try one” Diana asked. As my sister put an apricot half into her mouth, I looked at her deviously and said “Slimy, and you get the feeling they keep sliding all the way down”. The line hit its mark and my sister gave a small cough. “I just gagged” she exclaimed. “I don’t think I can eat this” Diana disdainfully held up the rest of the apricot. I was delighted and filled with the same satisfaction that a five year old has when they’ve bopped their sibling on the head with a particularly sturdy toy. Which is terrible, not the delight part, because there’s always some small part of a person, no matter their age which enjoys terrorizing their sibling, but because the line was stolen from Gilmore Girls– I take pride in coming up with my own material to disgust Diana.
As much fun as I had at my sister’s expense, some of the strangers I encountered didn’t get off scot-free either. On a late, late trip home on the GO train, the car was packed. I had a seat for most of the ride, but before disembarking at our stop, I stood in a crush of people all of whom were forced to stand for the trip. Next to me was a beautiful man. He was well dressed, immaculately manicured and very very handsome. And boy did he know it. In all of my life, I have never seen such preening. In the reflection of the window, he gazed at his perfect visage from this angle and that angle. As though he was asking himself each time, “Am I gorgeous on this side? Oh yes. What about this side?” After I watched this for a couple of minutes, the man stopped. I thought the show was over. But then he started again. “Don’t worry” I reassured him “you’re still pretty”. He turned away from me after that and tragically stopped his preening. Pity that, I was looking forward to the bicep flexes, which I assumed were coming next.
That’s the nonsense I’ve been up to. This wasn’t actually a post. It was more a series of bizarre interactions which Diana would claim is the manner that I inflict myself upon the world.