Sometimes you’re waiting for the subway when you feel eyes scooping into the back of your head like they’re looking for ice cream, or some vague sign that you’d be down to disrobe in their presence. And if you’re lucky they’re these sort of puppy-dog-ish things made more alluring by the ruggedly handsome shell surrounding them, the random assortment of scruff that doesn’t feel as curated as the other beard-yielding folk of the L Train. Instantly you’re sizing the rest of this creature up, trying to decide where this could go based on the length of his jeans (acceptable), or the choice in sock color—black, paired with rundown loafers.
You keep making jittery eyes at each other like nervous schoolchildren trying to flash each other your private parts, and really if you could see yourself you’d feel the full weight of how pathetic it is—but, also, and especially if you weren’t you, you’d find it kind of endearing. Now on board, every muscle in your face is engaged in a choreographed dance of trying to look ambivalent while also trying to show the dimmest sign of “Yes, I’d like to fuck you”—a difficult feat, for sure, and one that reads more like you have a slight twitch and a penchant for zoning out on the faces of strangers who are, occasionally, quite attractive.
But you’re not fully aware of this in the moment because you’re busy lamenting the state of your flat, too-many-days-unwashed hair and the pimple forming like a medallion of sexlessness on your chin. And you keep doing that thing that you know you really need to stop doing where you robotically tousle the piece-ier bits of hair that always fall to the right side of your face, hoping that if you caress them enough they’ll bow down to you, maybe even start to look nice. You realize now that you should have just handed your insecurities to everyone riding the train in nice little shiny-wrapped boxes. That would be more civilized, more forthright, than the awkward glancing-but-not-glancing at your reflection that you’re doing in the window, and the lost cause attempts at trying to grow an entirely new head of hair between Manhattan and Bushwick.
Your current apple moves his arms around so that he’s holding the uppermost rail and leaning over you slightly, giving you incredible access to the belly situation underneath his loose shirt. It is not flat, not toned, totally imperfect and looks wonderfully squishy—you think it could be a great pillow for you and your future children. You also now sense how very tall he is, and slim but not too: he looks soft in all the right places. His vague resemblance to Chris O’Dowd means he must be Irish, and you’re thrilled by this prospect, though you have no idea why.
By now his game has gotten shoddier, and he’s glancing down intermittently with a blank look on his face made irrelevant by the fact that he only ever looks at you. Your eyes connect and you try, in so many ways (which is to say: none, really), to plead with him to say something, to make this dull Thursday night a little less dull. Please make this a love story, or at least a wild two months before you stomp all over my heart with some kind of alcohol-induced rage. But your eyebrows are ill positioned for conveying this message.
Then at Montrose, one stop before yours, he gets off—the cruelest joke. And with that quick sliding of doors, the entire world you’d created for you-as-two vanishes: the Irish babies, the belly pillows…stuffed back into your brain bank for future projections. You walk home with a dead love affair weighing down your bag, and though not consummated, you feel refreshed by it, reignited by the mere possibility, even one glimpsed by your eyes alone.
Categories: Non-fiction Stories