August 28th, 2009

TTC Hand Stories

1) A middle-aged gentleman in a windbreaker in a corporate-branded windbreaker and earbuds sits down in the single seat ahead of me on the streetcar. I am facing forward, the way the seat goes, but he faces sideways, into the aisle. I am always startled by older people with earbuds, because my parents are my reference point for all older people, and they would no more stick appliances in their ears than in their noses. But I am reading, looking out the window, reading, not paying attention to this man…until he begins to take things out of a plastic bag. Then I have to look, in case he’s got a book and I need to read the spine, or a snack and I need to see if it looks appetizing, or…or…*anything interesting at all* (I don’t get out much; I am your streetcar worst nightmare). Whatever it is, there are several, each in an individual cellophane packet. I peer through the cello but can’t really understand what the items are–some sort of crumpled while loops of fabric. I look harder and harder until the man turns to meet my gaze and I turn back to the window, feeling like the giantest weirdo on the TTC for staring with such intensity at the poor man’s craft materials or whatever. I don’t look at him again until we get off the car, when I realize the man is gripping the pole with a hand cloaked in a thin tight white glove. His other hand is bare–yes, I looked–I don’t know what he did with the other gloves. He gets off without looking at me again, earbuds and windbreaker and Michael-Jackson glove. Another thing my parents would never do.

2) A beautiful young woman in a sleek black business suit sits on the Yonge line southbound, eating a bag of Cheetos. Look closer: it’s not *quite* a business suit. The blazer’s got a zipper that goes up to the throat, and her high spike heels are on bare feet rubbed popped-blister raw. Look closer: her hair is a tumble of beer-blond curls that have clearly required a heat-styling implement, but now they’ve started to unscrew, some rounder than others, some nearly perfectly vertical. And closer: not quite a young woman; behind her expensive narrow red glasses frames this is a university student with a posh summer job–maybe even a high-schooler. Her knees are knobby and crossed wide. She is eating the Cheetos at a great rate, as if someone will get on at a predetermined stop and take them from her. It is not a single-serving bag. Despite all of the above, as close as you can look, she is still beautiful. She eats the last cheese-twist and, with even more urgency, inserts her frost-pink manicured nails into her mouth, on at a time, and sucks the electric orange dust from the creases before she dares brush them against her cheap black suit. She finishes the tenth nail just as we arrive at Union and, crumpling the bag in her fist, she darts off.

Mutiny, I promise you
RR

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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