Look anywhere but into somebody’s eyes, which may seem simple but eyes seem to crowd everything out when you’re trying to avoid them. It’s like magnets. They just come together unbidden.
I wrote this.
The beginning of my relationship with Metrorail in 2011
In my efforts to seem more like a working class man I’ve taken to riding the train. Coming back home with the borrowed aroma of the proletariat, especially on the really hot days when the yellow box is steaming puts a strut in my step and do the ladies notice (answer: yes, they do).
Of course the truth is I sit in front of a computer screen all day. Occasionally I have to squint from the reflected sunshine on the screen, but that is the extent of my working class credentials. Just the other day someone told me for the umpteenth time that I have womanly uncalloused hands. Anyway enough about my insecurities…so yes I ride the train everyday. Boring to some, but to me it’s daily theatre. A microcosm of human interaction and for an overactive imagination a playground.
Firstly you have to synchronise your watch to Metrorail time. I can’t help but think that of that melting clock in Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory. Lazy and arbitrary. It’s best to just accept that the train will come when it pleases. To do otherwise is a losing, frustrating battle. Maybe I exaggerate a little, but let me throw my toys. The rush that follows the trains arrival is a chance for me to use my rugby skills. A stiff shoulder here and there frees up some space. It’s best to pick on the weak. Little children and old ladies just fly out the way (note to ma: I’m just kidding). But getting on the train is no time to be polite, because there’s always a random idiot blocking the path to acres of free space. And sometimes that random idiot is me.
Proof of our broken education system is graffiti’d (is that even a word?) all over the carriages. I quote a gem from last week: ‘wat u loking at, modafuka. lol.’ And did I LOL. Kids in my day used to know how to spell their swear words. These OBE kids are definitely not learning their FUC_’s. Of course male genitalia everywhere. Just once I’d like to see a feminist response, but women have better things do with their time. Like…..make me stare and stare and stare. The wily old train veterans have perfected the space stare. You’ve probably done it too. Look at the floor or out the window or focus on some minuscule detail. Look anywhere but into somebody’s eyes, which may seem simple but eyes seem to crowd everything out when you’re trying to avoid them. It’s like magnets. They just come together unbidden. Unfortunately for me I’m so interested in my fellow passengers that I can’t help but stare. And honestly I like it when eyes accidentally or not-so-accidentally meet – I’m talking to you pretty girl.
My imagination makes up interesting and thrilling life stories for people I catch in my net. Frumpy old lady becomes Verwoed’s former lover turned ANC cadre now living an anonymous life. Her eyes say she’s seen things. Sharp business lady becomes cold-hearted assassin. Her movements are sharp and she makes me aroused and scared at the same time etc etc… Its a pleasure I indulge in with every fresh haul.
Recently, I played eye fishing with a pretty woman in MetroPlus (which used to be ‘first-class’ once upon a time). I feel sorry for her a little and for myself. We both can’t help it. We are engaged in the only bit of fun one can have after enduring late or non-existent trains, packed carriages and the taut air of frustration and aggression that is Metrorail. They say it gets worse before its better.
It has not gotten better.