What a Nice Guy by Phil Torcivia

Friday, April 15, 2011

F My Commute


      Like attracts like, right? Or, do opposites attract? I attract freaks and, since I consider myself quite freakish, I’ll have to go with the former. Every commute draws freaks to me as frequently as evangelists to glory holes. I sit dumbfounded. I try not to stare. I think pleasant thoughts. Then I break down and take a picture to preserve the moment and remind myself I’m a spectator at the human circus.
      There are the usual annoyances on most commutes, including loud cell phone talkers, disease sprinklers sneezing and coughing, and smelly food eaters. Yesterday I found a new breed of freak. He was so freakish that I scanned for camera crews and strongly considered adopting him.
      I can make up many stories, people. I have a warped imagination. This shit was too bizarre for even my skull soup to brew up.
      Normally, in a four-seat area with center table, people sit diagonally instead of directly across from one another. Not yesterday. I have awesome peripheral vision and, as I saw this mutant approaching me, I mentally repeated, No, don’t you dare. Keep moving! Don’t stop here. He’s going to … oh my god. Why me? Then he flopped a stack of clothing in a pile in the seat he should have occupied and sat himself directly across from me. I acted as if I hadn’t noticed.
      Then, he sniffed both of his armpits and removed his outer layer. Don’t worry, people, he had four more layers. He then sniffed the next layer, found it equally unsuitable, and removed it. I prepared myself for the whiff that would have sent me retching. Thankfully, none of his stank made it across the table. Three layers left and he was finally comfortable.
      He ignored my fondness of things modern (iPhone) and proudly flopped his time machine on the table between us. It was a mini-boombox. No shit. The kind with the telescoping antenna, circa thirty fucking years ago. Thankfully, he had headphones, which he strapped to his noggin as he frantically tuned his unit.
      Remember rabbit ears? Ancient antennas? When dealing with them, one had to bend, twist, and angle the ears until adequate reception was achieved. The suckiest part of them was the fact that by touching the antenna you made the station come in clear as you became part of the antenna. When you let go of the antenna … white noise.
      My new friend wrestled with the antenna for an entire station stop. His solution was to hold the unit at ear level, where it would brilliantly double as a sunlight shade. I sat motionless, stuck on the same page of my eBook the entire time. My pause button had been depressed.
      As delighted as I was that he finally got reception and sat still, I feared the show was not over. I couldn’t hear the song playing in his headphones (a good thing); however, I knew what song it was (a bad thing). How? He sang it (a horrible thing called “Fire” by the Pointer Sisters). Audiophiles, this was not The Boss’s version of “Fire.” He sang it in a woman’s voice.
      “Fiiiiiiiiii-yuh. Dum de dum dum dum. Woe-me-oh and Jew-we-yet. De dum dum dum. Somethin’ and rotweiler. [Indiscernible mumble.] When we kisssssss … fiiiiii-yuh.”
      The song is three minutes and twenty-seven seconds long. I know this because I spent the entire time staring at my iPhone trying to figure out how to capture the moment without distracting him from his Grammy-deserving performance. I finally snapped a few shots and instantly felt better. See? Told you I’m a freak.
      His next selection? Elton John and Kiki Dee … I’ll spare you the details. Suffice it to say I was never happier to see my good friend Johnny Walker when I walked into my house.

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