I’m not fatalistic by any stretch of the imagination, but sometimes coincidences occur that make me sort of shudder, briefly contemplate the nature reality, and then dismiss it. One such fortuitous incident happened on Thursday night, after I got off work. I walked down to LaSalle Street, as I always do, and waited for a train at the Clinton station.
The fun thing about this subway station is that right as you get off the escalator onto the platform, you’re in a prime position to leap into the first car of an O’Hare-bound train. Normally, that’s what I do, because then when I get down to Cumberland, again the train is right next to the escalators, so I can just hop off and then zip along to my car without having to wait for the enormous throng of people to get onto the escalators before me. I’m not a big fan of standing around pointlessly. If I’m going to stand around, it should be for a good reason, such as leering at women.
I’m digressing, though. On Thursday, I didn’t stand near where the first car stops. What I did, which was very unusual and perhaps driven by a subconscious that pays a little more attention to the surrounding world than I consciously do, was go down a little ways. The thought I had, one I’ve been having for weeks but never did anything about, is that the first car is always much more crowded than other cars, so I should get on somewhere in the middle.
As I went a little ways down the platform, I stopped between two women, neither of whom I particularly recognized. The one to my left ignored me, which is not unusual; the one on my right turned around to look at me.
It was The Ex.
I didn’t recognize her at first, because when we dated, she found public transportation terrifying. She told me she’d ridden on a Metra train once, and it really freaked her out. For non-local readers, the Metra is the least scary form of public transportation here.
Also, she looked different than she used to. She wore a thick parka I couldn’t imagine the woman I dated being caught dead in. Gone was the pink dye job I had last seen on her; she was no longer wearing the startling pale-face almost-goth make-up she used to wear when we were dating. She didn’t even dress like she used to when we were dating; she was wearing an almost trendy pair of pre-rolled jeans*, a plain pair of shoes (as opposed to the menacing boots she always enjoyed), and a nondescript black parka. She wore a silly denim hat on top of her head, and her hair—which she dyed black again—was extremely short, almost dykey.
She went conservative on me! Why didn’t she give me a call?! Oh, wait, I remember.
When she saw me, her eyes—I swear to God—lit up and she actually smiled. SHE SMILED AT ME. WHAT IN THE HOLY NAME OF FUCK HAPPENED TO HER?
“Hi,” she said softly.
I nodded stoically, creating the most likely unconvincing illusion of supreme manhood, and said, “Hi.”
And that was it. I didn’t address the changes in fashion, style, and attitude, though I wanted to. She didn’t apologize (although Lucy insists she should, I’m still not convinced that she was entirely in the wrong), and I don’t think either of us wanted to catch up on the events of the past year. I thought about being really mean and actually asking about her band, but I didn’t think it was appropriate.
We stood uncomfortably next to each other for a little while, and then the train showed up. We got on and, although there was plenty of seating (see, the middle-car theory works!), we didn’t sit next to one another.
The train blasted off, and I noticed that before we even got to the next stop, she had gotten up and moved to a different car. I’m not sure if she was uncomfortable or upset or overwhelmed or what, but I think I can safely assume I am responsible for her switching cars.
The reason why this seemed like a creepy sign of horrible fate is because on Wednesday night, I had dinner with a girl that I’ve been attracted to for most of the semester and, for the first time in the history of this blog, it went well. And then The Ex, full of arousing changes and all smiley, shows back up in my life and manages to fuck me all up.
Not that I’d ever think of any sort of reconciliation, and I’m sure that’s the furthest thing from her mind, but I can’t help getting all retarded and wondering if she popped up and made me question reality for some grander reason. Like, for example, the Controller of the Universe, sitting in his little cabin in the woods, is trying to say to me, “Hey, remember that girl you went out with? Maybe you should think about what happened with this other girl and just assume she’s crazy.”
Should I do that? No. Why? Because I’m not retarded. Okay, I am, but not beyond the hope of help. But, as instructed by The X-Files, I question everything and trust no one, and consequently I start creating cosmic conspiracies where mere coincidences exist. Then, I dance.
*I don’t know anything about fashion, so this may not make sense. What I’m trying to say is that the cuffs of her jeans were rolled in a stylish way, but this was not done by her; they looked like they were stitched that way. [Back]