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17 June, 2008

Strangers on the Subway

Four boys, probably high school aged, with a black sketchbook just like the ones that I had for my art class in high school. They passed it around, drawing graffiti-style lettering in the book.

One took the book, slid down the side of the car to sit on the floor, bumping my foot. "Sorry," he said, and "No worries," I replied.

He took the fuschia marker and started to sketch out letters with perfect grace, each line with ease and fluidity, fading from thick to sparse with each stroke. He worked quickly and deliberately, swapping from pink to black, and I could not figure out what he was saying.

"Aw," he said, "that looks like shit. Whose black is this?"

It belonged to the one sitting across from me.

"Do yourself a favor, man, get a new one." He took the pen, stepped on the end, shook it a few times, and then scribbled on a scrap of paper. Satisfied, he handed it back to its owner. "Smooth."

He had perfect sketching hands.

We got off at the same stop, before I could figure out how to say it.


He was sitting on the trolley across from me, talking with his wife, his bare smooth-muscled arms clearly visible, as he was wearing a sleeveless shirt.

He had amazingly beautiful skin. It looked perfectly smooth, unblemished, shading through all kinds of dark rich colour along the contours of his arms and into the knobblier darkness of his wrinkled knuckles.

And I couldn't think of a way to tell him. Not that wouldn't come off as some creepy race-fetish thing, even aside from the horrible awkwardness of trying to compliment a perfect stranger, especially on something so socially strange.

He got off the stop before mine, leaning heavily on his cane.


What a world it might be, if people knew how beautiful they were. If it were possible to tell them about beauties easily, without awkwardness, without sounding like a freak.

3 comments:

Phoibos said...

There have been so many times I have had the same thought -- I wish I could find a way to tell that person how lovely her eyes are, how perfect her curves are, how nice it was to have them in my field of view just for a little while ... without sounding like I'm coming on to her or being some sort of creep.

Daisy said...

Great post, so descriptive.

I also have a crush on the first person I described in this post--the forceful way he announces himself, his body-full of tattoos, the custom-Harley, his full-on Bad-ass New York Cop Self. Isn't that sort of fetishizing the whole Tony Soprano-as-cop thing? Probably, but I can't help it. It's how GENUINE he is, that is so bracing...

So, I'm just real happy to see and talk to him a lot. He probably suspects, but oh well.

Again, wonderful post.

sarah j said...

I was out with friends a few weeks ago and one girl with us had no problem complimenting strangers. I envied her.