This morning, the 4 train pulled up at Union Square, and those of us waiting on the platform made a little line on each side of the door closest to us to let passengers off first. When there are too many people wanting to get on, the line tends to clump up with overeager late-to-workers trying to weasel their way to the front, but this morning, there were only a few of us and therefore plenty of room to spread out. As I stood watching people file off, I felt something land against the back of my head and then move its way up to my crown (no, not my princess crown). At first, I thought that one of my friends might have spotted me and come to tousle my hair, but then I realised that anyone who knows me knows not to touch me in the morning, so I turned around with a scowl and saw that the guy behind me was holding one of those giant black Penguin volumes of the collected works of some supposedly-great author thisclose to my face. I realised that he had totally scraped the back of my head and then gone back to reading as if it was nothing.
My initial response was an incredulous “what the fuck!”, which I immediately felt guilty for, ’cause I wanted to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, and you can’t just go around what-the-fucking everyone who gives you a bump in a city so crowded. But then I saw that he was wearing headphones and
a) hadn’t heard me because of them, or
b) was using them as an excuse to pretend he hadn’t heard me.
He was too tall for me to see his eyes over his book to be sure, but given five more seconds to think about it, I would’ve without question and without pause
a) slapped the book out of his hand and onto the ground, hopefully bending some of the pages in the process,
b) yanked one of the earbuds from his head and what-the-fucked the hell out of his eardrum, or
c) tapped him gently on the arm to get him to lower the book and then PUNCHED HIM IN THE GUT.
But as the girl in front of me was entering the train, I felt the pressure to get on before the doors closed and decided to just let it go. Which is, you know, the mature thing to do. But I made sure to get on real slow-like to piss him off a little, because I’m not actually mature at all. I breathed deeply and tried to forget about him as I grabbed the pole in the middle of the train, but then he followed me to the pole, wrapped one arm entirely around it, leaned his body entirely against it, and smashed my hand entirely to the metal in a mass of wool coat and bag strap and bony twentysomething torso. He was one of these really perfect European-looking young guys with the hair so black it gleamed and the nose so sharp it could be used as a shiv in a pinch during a prison brawl, and I felt very aware of being short-haired and Chuck-Taylor-wearing and not at all the kind of girl he’d pay attention to. And to make matters worse, when he’d consumed the pole with his armpit, he’d done it with his back to me, so I was for all intents and purposes completely invisible to him.
I thought about stepping on his clunky black boots or tearing his armskin with my fingernails, but I figured that’d be too obvious. I wished that today had been one of the days when I was carrying a huge structured shoulder bag so I could turn around, take a step backward, and thrust the bottom corner so far into him that his spine would touch his ribs. And then turn back around and say, “OMG, I am so sorry,” in an obviously unsorry way. But since my mama didn’t raise me that way, I merely reasoned that assholes turn out assholes for a reason and that I no doubt lead a much happier life than he does. But I’m really hoping that he turned out an asshole because of some past anal rape. Ta!