I love the subway if only because I can walk on in full pageant makeup, ski boots with flowers in my hair and no one gives me a second look. I can just sit and listen to the same Sufjan Stevens song over and over while avoiding eye contact and looking sullen until the train pulls into Borough Hall.
Sadly, this trip, I did not have the luxury of anonymity. Nope, this trip, a morbidly-obese, slightly-dirty, possible-hoboish woman entered the train.
I was minding my own business when out of no where, a hand starts waving in front of my face. I look up at this old woman in bright pink lipstick, and search my memory for her face. Before I can register anything, she takes her newspaper, folds it begins swatting my leg. Yeah, swatting at my leg like I am some misbehaving dog or some stray animal she is trying to “shoo” away from her. Then she yelled “MOVE” at me. And turned around, pointing her cosmically huge ass at me and tried to shove her body into a 6 inch space.
I scooted over as much as I could while this woman (who from henceforth, will be named Bertha) wriggled and writhed her body in an attempt to fit. The poor man on the other side of Bertha was jammed up against the rail, and I was trying my best not to sit in the lap of the man on my left. I thought that our interaction was over, that Bertha would cease to bother me, but no, she was only just beginning.
I sat for a few seconds feeling uncomfortable emotionally and physically, when I looked over and Bertha was staring at me. Staring at the side of my face with her face all scrunched in disdain. The instant she noticed my attention, she moved her head to get direct eye contact and then jabbed her fleshy elbow into my ribs. Twice. Every jab seemed to bring her closer to my side and it was strangely intimate- I mean, I have had sex with less skin to skin contact than this trip with Bertha.
Like a pussy, I broke eye contact first and began to look around the subway. I was distracted as Bertha read her paper, extending it as large as it would go and spreading her trunk-like arms into my face. I could not help but notice she was title-reading, furiously turning the page when she was done and pushing her girth further and further into my personal space. No detail of the paper was skipped- not the classifieds or personals, not even the sports pages that…had…the Olympics? Yup, she was reading an out of date paper. How out of date, you ask? February 23rd. On March 7th. And when she was done angrily reading one paper, she went into her purse and took out a different out-of-date paper of which she had a seemingly endless supply.
Now, just because someone chooses to jam their bacon-soaked hocks into a tiny subway seat does not make them crazy. Waiting until a lengthy train ride to catch up on the news, also not a deal breaker on mental health. No, it is the constellation of these events (or symptoms?) that troubled me. I was very glad when my portion of the ride ended and I extracted myself from her side. I could tell Bertha was happy as well, mainly because of the cacophonous sigh she released which was audible over my music. With one fleeting glance, I looked back at Bertha, only to see her shifting her jiggly body into the warm space I left behind and she looked up at me…and promptly looked deep into my eyes and gave me the finger. God speed, Bertha.