Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,

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Commuted Sentence

OK, I’m going to make an exception today and talk about my mundane day-to-day life, because I have to get this out of my brain and onto my screen.


I live in Chicago, and I take the “L” to work. This morning, I got on and sat down in an empty “2-seater” with no one next to me. I’m a big guy, so it was nice to not have to immediately sit next to someone. But after several stops, the train began to fill up and I knew it was just a matter of time before I lost my seating independence. Sure enough, the doors opened and a group of four friends got on. The clues to their identities were quite apparent – casual clothes, bohemian attitudes, and most tellingly, all carried different assortments of art and drafting equipment. “Aha,” I thought, “I bet they’re getting off the same stop I am and heading for the art school I walk by every morning.” – a prediction that proved completely accurate. One of their group stepped forward and sat next to me. She was this apple-cheeked pixie who looked like a Hummel of herself; just as cute a little art student as one could wish for. She lugged the most equipment of them all, a veritable cornucopia of t-squares, bags, and portfolios. “Well this is all right,” I thought, “I can share a seat with her for a while.” Now let me be clear on this – I wasn’t planning on putting any moves on her, or even saying a word to her. My nose remained buried in my newspaper. But ladies and gentlemen of the jury, in light of some of the socially unacceptable, malodorous sorts I have shared auras with on public transportation over the years, I will happily share a seat with someone like her any day.


Or so I thought. Yeah, you could probably hear that “but” coming a mile away. This group of friends chattered non-stop, like barnyard animals in a Max Fleischer cartoon. After a minute, I detected the strong aroma of stale liquor breath on the prowl. Strong. Really strong. If-there-was-anything-in-my-stomach-make-me-barf strong. At about the same moment, the Hummel next to me said, “Oh my god, you guys, I can still taste liquor in my mouth.” The others quietly chuckled, none seeming the slightest bit surprised at her admission. This odor became the defining feature of the next 15 minutes, until we mercifully arrived in the Loop. Along the way, I was treated to an overview of the terms and phrases particular to this tribe: Repeated use of the word “totally.” From their mouths, it is no longer a 3-syllable word – more like 3 and a half. I believe all four of them used some form or other of the phrase, “f**king solid,” which I inferred from context is a sign of approval among their people. Also caught the clearly articulated term, “sh-nasty.” I’m still trying to winnow down a short list of possible translations. I’ll get back to you (any help with this or additional contributions to the lexicon of this dialect would be appreciated).


Now in all fairness, I am always happy to expand my cultural horizons and learn the customs and idioms of a society other than my own. But when my pillow is still a very near memory and my nostrils are being assaulted with the sloe gin slurry of someone else’s extended revelry, my ability to be culturally edified becomes rather compromised.


Well yeah, I could have gotten up, moved away, and stood for 15 minutes. Boy, the sacrifices I’ll make for the sake of my own inertia!


So that was the start of my day. Hope yours was at least as stimulating!


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