Making Friends on the Train
By Wil Forbis
Excerpt from travel journal, Jan 3, 2000
"I continue my journey eastward, towards Los Angeles and a promising career as a pornographic film actor"
Last night I managed to pawn off the fawning attentions of the Pokemon protégé next to me to another lad stationed in front of both of us, letting them discuss Pikachus and holographic card collections to their heart's delight. I then settled back in my chair, content to sip my second Scotch and O.J. Suddenly, my seat partner appeared, a young women whom had been absent from her chair when I'd gotten on, though her jacket and sack of books from Barnes and Noble had illuminated me to her presence. Right as the women was prodding me to get out of my aisle seat and let her into to her window perch, an Am-Trak employee ambled by and she pulled him aside for a bit of chat in the area in between the individual train cars. "That's a bit odd," I thought, and I cocked my ear to listen in on their conversation. Lo and Behold the women was complaining about ME, saying there was no way she was going to sit next to some drunk who was clearly smashed and would probably be up all night listening a Whitesnake album he had cleverly purchased in an Austin music shop for a pittence. (Actually, I had every intention of staying up all night while listening to Hammer's "The Funky Headhunter" album (his attempt at gangsta rap), an entirely different breed from Whitesnake's power rock.)
Naturally, I was quite offended. I'm hardly a drunk and would have gotten up and told her so, if not for the fact that in my stupor I'd unbuttoned my pants and let them fall to my ankles so that I was now incapable of walking. Nonetheless, I couldn't see what this chick's problem was. So I sat back and awaited what would befall me.
Fortunately, after hearing what the price upgrade to a sleeper would be, the woman had no choice but to return to her seat and endure me in all my swarthiness. I remained calm and cheery upon her arrival and my keen aural senses detected that she was even more lit up than me. "What wonderful irony," I thought. In her inebriated state she'll be putty in the hand of the old Forbis charm. Soon I had her babbling away about her worthless life while she was no doubt mentally chastising herself for being so initially resentful of me. I was quite certain that if I so desired I would have been able to talk her into, quote, unquote, "getting freaky" in one of the lower level bathrooms, but declined out of loyalty to my wonderful girlfriend.
The next morning after a fitful bought of sleep, I awoke and heeded the intercom message that they were serving breakfast in the dining car. I sauntered several cars over, claimed a booth and was immediately surrounded with three other people who had a combined age of 437. "Jesus," I thought. "I wonder if I'll get any interesting conversation out of these fossils. They'll probably just want to discuss the life and times of Winston Churchill or Glen MIller's newest hit." Surprisingly, I had an amicable time and was forced to admit that sometimes bold generalizations and cruel stereotypes about people can prove false.
Two of the three people at my table were a couple from Europe - Dublin, actually, and they were taking a month long tour of the states. I found their observations about the differences between the U.S. and Europe fascinating (including the wife's humorous anecdote about trying to get to the subway in Boston and being pointed to the sandwhich shop.) Even more fascinating than the couple's travel adventures was the length of the wife's nose hair. Lord, the woman was a female Hitler! You'd think such appendages would have been singed off in an IRA bombing, but old gal felt quite free to let such viney roots hang free from her schnoz.
As we chatted in the dining car a toddler a few booths away began to whine, despite her parents admonitions against attempting such operatic feats in a crowded area. I mentioned to my compatriots how it would be nice if all children were hooked up to a traveling IV of morphine and could be made incontinent at the push of a button. The shocked and frightened looks I received from my table partners indicated they would have little interest in my theory that the body of anyone over 65 could be converted into a flavorless protein drink consumed by the young and attractive such as myself.
Hmm.. It's pretty apparent to me that I really don't have any ending for this piece but for what it's worth, the chick sitting next to me hooked up with some guy who looked like he worked at a used bookstore and I never saw the old people from Dublin again.