Last week, I sat down on the hard blue plastic bench (which must have been designed for fetal midgets, because the "natural curve" of the backrest couldn't fall on a more uncomfortable spot on my back godammit) on the 2 train heading back to Brooklyn. I had just gotten out of the gym (the Old Man Ass was in full bloom that day [see previous post] and he was wearing what appeared to the untrained eye to be a Saggy-Balls-Bra. That will be a future post for sure). I have gone through this routine a couple times a week recently and really thought nothing of it. However, this time was different.
When I sat down, the guy next to me got up and changed seats.
Holy Social Ostracism, can you imagine more of an insult! The nerve! The gall! The cajones!
I did a quick sniff. All clear. My baggage was maybe a little excessive-man bag and gym bag- but nothing out of the ordinary. Why the hell did he move away from me? I wasn't mumbling to myself or picking my nose (consciously). In fact, I had my iPod buds in my ear and was freshly showered! I smelled like Aloe Vera body wash for christsake!
That's when I realized: he was being "courteous". Now, I'm not the first guy to dwell on the oddities of Subway Manners, but this one always kills me: never sitting directly next to somebody if there is an open seat elsewhere. Now, this situation only presents itself when a what was once fully crowded train suddenly disgorges its occupants, leaving a stalwart few behind who, by divine Providence, are now sitting next to each other on a now empty train. Subway Ethics demand that one of the occupants move a seat over. Who is to move is not dictated, it is just sort of "felt" (Have you ever heard of "spirit reading?" It was used in high school whenever we were reading a story out loud. Instead of the teacher picking somebody to read [I was fantastically inept at reading aloud- unless I did it in an accent. Don't think too long about that one], somebody would feel the "spirit" and just start reading. They could stop whenever they liked and then the next person possessed of the spirit would start where they left off. Long and awkward pauses were inevitable, but the teacher sat there at their desk grinning like an idiot whenever this happened. [Take note Mr. Obama: this is what happens when you let Hippies in the classroom.] I would start freaking out during these pauses and usually audibly roll my eyes and start reluctantly reading in a passable Scottish accent).
So this guy moving away from me was mannered. But I hated it. I took it personally.
There are times when I am in the "sitting next to each other on an empty train" and I refuse to move. I am perfectly comfortable sitting next to another human being (as long as they're not really ugly). I will sit there and try to pretend that I don't notice that we are sitting next to each other. I swear to God, I am not moving. I am so fucking comfortable right now.
What would happen if I did this while sitting next to Samuel L Jackson? Oh man, he'd get up quickly, turn dramatically counterclockwise, and stare directly into the camera (shot from my perspective) and declare:
"We have got to get these mothafucking fakes off this mothafucking train!"
I would excitedly clap uncoordinated high-pitched claps and start simultaneously screaming and crying like a 13 year old girl at a Beatles concert circa 1964.