So once in a while you try something a little “different” and you pay the price.
For instance, I always go in the same train car when I take the Red Line. There is a method to my madness, a reason for choosing the same car time after time.
But this morning there was this really short brown dude (he was shorter and browner than me) who came and stood in my platform vicinity as the train begin to approach. We were kind of oddball twins but in a bad way. We accentuated the unfavorable traits in each other because of our general similarity. I don’t like to be near other guys who have my dimensions and coloring. Especially when there are lots of non-Hispanics around. It’s like we are living out all the physical archetypes unfamiliar Whites hold dear. Me and another short, brown guy stand out in a Bobbsey brown Twins manner and I don’t like drawing attention to myself. So I avoid short brown guys when I’m around non-Mexicans. In East LA, every other person is short and brown so I blend in and there is no problem at all. At least I don’t stand out. No problem then, comprende? I am a man of many hang-ups. Let’s shake on that and move on.
Anyways, this morning there was that short brown guy trying to board the train at the same door I was about to which would be conspicuously comical to all those annoying professional early morning White commuters on the Red Line. Annoyed that my style was being cramped, I walked away from him but he was one of those really hyperactive guys and he kept pacing as the train approached like a dog going crazy after you get home in the evening. The only thing this dude didn’t do was chase his tail but he kept approaching me and leaving. I couldn’t plan my escape! I moved further away until I reached the point I knew I would not be anywhere this train car entrance. We would enter separate cars without the slightest hint of ever having been conjoined twins waddling around after each other. No one would notice me because I was by myself.
The train pulled up and I ran into an atypical car for me. I usually don’t board at this car. It’s not me. Still, I needed to distance myself from the brown guy. The car I boarded was quite crowded. Not what I would choose. There were no seats open and very little standing room. I quickly leaned on the center pole that stands directly in front of the doors.
OH MY GOD.
The odor blasted me immediately! It was the worst, sour, digestive slop stench in the world. I was positive someone had puked in this car. A fresh steaming pile of vomit was close by. I glanced around looking to see if there was an area people seemed to be skirting which would be the dead giveaway of a puke puddle. People generally avoid puke, but there were no obvious clearings in this car. Yet, the area around the pole where I stood smelled like putrid vomit, the worst sour, stale, rotten puked cheese odor in the world. I literally came close to gagging. I looked around and could barely contain my disgust. I held my breath and tried to breathe through my mouth. Most of those in the car were professional white collar types. Straight out of their designer showers. Spic and span, these folks. No one would smell like vomit. Ah, the only person in my vicinity which might explain this stench was a short, shiny, brown man standing by the door. He had a rolling suitcase that was old and worn, just like his clothes.
I instantly pegged him as the odor generator. It had to be him. Something he had in that old suitcase. He was dark brown, he was shiny, he was shorter than me, and he was fat. Poor sucker. Sad. But he was very shiny.
A couple of stops later, a pair of seats vacated and I ran to them. Here I could keep an eye on the shiny fellow and the odor was somewhat weaker. I continued to hold my breath. The brown shiny dude had to be it. He was keeping sour food or a dead body in his luggage. He had really old, worn clothes. Something about him looked slightly unkempt and unclean. I think it was his shiny complexion. His clothes weren’t torn or filthy, but they looked like they’d been through the washer a few times. He had that gross-looking very dark, brown skin that glimmers through a sheen of porous oil. The brown glistens because of the shine. I see people like this and right away they exude a sense of filth. Why is this? They may have come right out of the shower, but the way they look instantly qualifies them as being stinky and unsanitary. It’s that shiny dark brown skin, just like this man on the train with the suitcase. Dark shiny skin evokes disgust in me. Why is this? Is it a confluence of merged experiences from my past painting the present? Shiny, oily skin is never good, but perhaps on a dark complexion, it even seems worse, more oily.
I can still smell the puke. I feel sickeningly revolted thinking of it now, many hours later. An odor stays in your mind long after it’s exited the stage. It’s like a phantom limb, but it’s a smell, the smell of sour milk puke still lingering in your nostrils.
Finally, the guy roused as the train neared the Vermont/Beverly station. When the doors slid open, he turned and walked out, rolling his suitcase with the dead body behind him. I couldn’t help but check him out. I check out hot chicks and disgusting, oily men. I’m an equal opportunity leerer. He was wearing faded black shoes and unfresh khaki trousers. Since they were khaki’s, I was able to note that in the bull’s eye of his ass and descending halfway the length of his right mid-thigh was a stain of brownish wettish moistness. It was not a dead body after all. It looked fresh. The guy had shit his pants. What was that all about? Homeless people take craps in public. Why would someone literally shit in their pants and board a train with a suitcase? What could this have been all about? Did he try to let out a sly fart and lost his gamble? This was a big stain. If he lost the gamble, evidently he just gave up all self-respect and let it all out. I’ve lost “gambles” as well, but usually I’ll clamp up the flood in time to avoid soaking my pants in shit. Perhaps a stain finds its way onto my underwear, but at least my pants are not seared in an uncontrollable shit stain. Maybe the shiny brown guy just had no more fucks to give.
I thought later that I was casting some cruel aspersions, but hey, I admit I’m short and brown. At least I’m not shiny. I’m more of a matte finish. I’m better.