Wednesday, September 16, 2009

CTA Stories: So Close

I got on a mid-day Red Line train, and took the nearest available seat, one of the side-ways ones next to the door. My companion in the next seat was a 40-ish east Asian man. I could feel his eyes boring into me. "Haiiii," he said loudly. "Hi," I replied and started digging around in my bag for a power bar. He intently watched as I unwrapped the bar and took a bite. "A snneck...snack?" he asked. I nodded and kept on chewing. "What is...the writing?" and he reached for the wrapper in my left hand. He read it out loud "Soooy Joy. Soy Joy." I offered him my second bar, which he declined. "Thought it was CHOEcolate."

We pulled into the Monroe station, and a young couple and a girl in a short, baby-doll dress got on. The latter, who had most of her long tanned legs exposed, stood directly across from us. My friend looked her up and down. His gaze was without any heat. It seemed more like that of scientist who had just encountered a new species. Glued to her iPhone, the girl never appeared to notice him. She got off a couple of stops later.

Just across from us, the young couple were canoodling. The boy was tall and whippet-thin, and wore a chain as thick as my little finger. On it dangled a sparkly egg-sized pendant, meant to represent a money bag. While he giggled and exchanged meaningful looks with his sweetie, he toyed with her hoop earring. They drew ever nearer, until body contact was absolute.

"So CLOSE!" my friend exclaimed, pointing at them. "You never see in a Adjun (Asian) country!" "Well, they're in love," I explained. A man seated near us began to laugh. The boy and girl, looking a little embarrassed, scampered back into the hobo corner at the end of the car. As I found out later, my fellow passenger was visiting from Korea. We chatted briefly about Korean television--last year, I developed an addiction to Dae Jang Geum--and then it was time for me to leave. He said goodbye with an air of distraction, already looking around for another example of bizarre Chicago behavior.

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