September 20, 2005

More Delight on the Red Line - This Time, With Paper Hats

I'm still sick. Home again today, but for a quick jaunt down the red line to Lincoln Park, where a nice doctor informed me that I have viral bronchitis. Splendiferous.

The train ride was exhausting both ways (there are times when I wish I had easy access to a good old-fashioned car), but there were little fun interesting moments along the way.

On the trip down I stood behind a very blonde woman dressed in somewhat retro classic 40's/'50's style, although not in a costume-y sort of way. She was very pale and wore a classic wrap dress that would have looked appropriate on Marilyn Monroe in about 1949. She wore simple white shoes and carried a plain white handbag, and took great care freshening up her bright red lipstick in the old-fashioned compact she held surprisingly steadily in her hand, while the other hand gripped the handrail inside the train.

As it happened, my visit to the doctor and her errand both brought us back to the train heading north at the exact same time, and we managed to again find our way into the exact same car. This time she broke her spell of timelessness by whipping out a cell phone and checking her voicemail before turning around to see what people were giggling about.

A tall, lanky kid with a curly mop of hair and a puckish look on his face was wordlessly creating and handing out newspaper hats to anyone who would accept one. I looked around the train and realized he'd managed to persuade an impressive cross-section of people to wear silly hats made of newspapers. Two children (but not their mother), a young black kid with a Scarface dogtag hanging around his neck, a scrubby looking redheaded kid clutching a bag full of art supplies, and even a woman in a business suit, who was smiling like she'd just been given permission to do something pointless and silly for the first time in years.

He gestured to Miss Retro, who laughed uncomfortably and said "But why? Is it for a reason? Is it a political thing?" Paper Hat Boy seemed to accept her polite decline of the hat offer, and then she began chatting with a curly-haired, tiny college girl in a pink tracksuit. Miss Retro began explaining that her internship with the CIA turned out to be a dead end, and she didn't like DC enough to stay there very long. Tracksuit Girl countered with stories of internships she'd been offered but did not pursue, and then the conversation took a turn into the realm of grad school and student loans.

Before long my stop came up and it was time to head to the pharmacy/grocery store for cough syrup and orange juice. I was tired and sick and cranky, but I was also glad, for a moment, that I don't have a car, because I would have missed out on these little random overheard and observed vignettes.

(Update - Paper Hat Boy, AKA Scotty Iseri, e-mailed me 3 weeks after I published this post, and since then we've met and become friends. And I and several friends have now had the superfantabulous Big Rock Show experience. You should, too!)

No comments: