I was on my way home from school late last night when I experienced a twenty-first century faux paus. My literary magazine class goes fairly late on Wednesday nights, and so I've gotten accustomed to the seeming anonymity of public transit on weekday evenings. Anyone who lives in an urban area will tell you that, like possums and raccoons, the city's best characters come out at night. And they ride MUNI.
Since living in San Francisco, I have acquired the dubious habit of wearing an iPod everywhere I go. My intention is never to shut out the outside world, nor is it to live blissfully unaware of those around me. Rather, I've found that the 45 minutes I spend on buses or trains every day is the best time to catch up on news, podcasts, and all the new music I've downloaded from library cds. It should be known that I've recently developed a particular affinity for comedy-themed podcasts, if anything because when spending so much time alone, it is nice to feel like there's something outside my head to laugh at.
So: Wednesday night, 10 pm, I'm riding the M line from SFSU to Balboa Park, listening to Jordan, Jesse, Go!, a podcast that features the Sound of Young America's Jesse Thorn and Fuel TV's Jordan Morris. It's late, my eyelids are at half-mast, and I'm giggling. Enter Random Inebriated Young Man, stage left.
He spots my stupid smile and sits down next to me. I disregard him and continue to giggle. Oh, Jordan. Oh, Jesse. I turn up the volume on my headphones when it seems that Random Inebriated Young Man wants to talk. He motions that I take off my headphones. I refuse, still smiling. He mouths his words, and they are easy to make out:
"Hey, hey, honey, that smile for me?"
I don't reply, choosing instead to look the other way and continue giggling.
"That smile's for me, yeah?"
I nod "no." Sorry buddy.
"No?" He opens his red eyes wider. There's no way this guy is sober. He reaches down and pulls up the arm of his shirt, exposing his biceps. He flexes, kisses his arm.
"You like that, yeah?"
I can't help it; I giggle.
I nod "no."
He puffs out his chest, grabs his pecs.
"You like this instead?"
I nod a halfway committed "no," try instead turning my knees so I'm facing the opposite way.
"Hey girl, we got a black president, you oughta have a black man!"
Who wouldn't giggle at this point? I try to give the appearance that I neither disapprove nor approve; to be true, I'm all for dating anyone interesting. Operative word: interesting.
At this point he gets up and walks to the other side of train. I sigh, relax; he's off to bug someone else. I tune out. Amazingly, the giggles disappear.
Two minutes later, he's back, this time offering me a Fig Newton.
"You want one?"
I smile, nod "no."
"What? Hey, I'll give you a choice: eat a cookie, or take me!"
I nod again. Not sure how it's possible, but his eyes look redder this time.
"You smilin for me?"
I sigh. He's one of those sad dudes who thinks that an uninterested girl is just one who hasn't yet been convinced of his finer virtues.
"I got it!" He snaps his fingers. "You...you're high, aren't you?"
I giggle. This does not help my case.
"Yes! You like to smoke some doobie, am I right?"
I giggle and nod "no" at the same time.
"Aw, whatever girl, you're totally high." He leans in and sniffs the air around my head. "I can smell it from here."
I snort involuntarily and am relieved when I hear the driver yell, "Final stop!"
I jump up quickly and say, "See ya!" I cross the street quickly and hear him say "What, no number or nothin'?!" as the doors close.
Oh, MUNI. Oh, characters of the night. Fodder for the creative mind, all of us.