He brought us together but I wonder if he'd have the power to tear us asunder? Would he understand the word asunder?
It was just one of those things. You know, you ride the train to work, you look at the people, you make up little histories or you think you know their personalities just from looking at them. Often you'd find you're totally wrong about people given the chance to get to know them but when you don't get that chance? You're right about everything.
I first saw him one wintry morn. I was nestled in my book, something assuredly brilliant, can't remember what exactly, when he got on the train. Do I need to clarify that the train was stationary? I get on at the first stop and being obsessive about being late for anything, I'm there a good 20 minutes before the train even thinks about moving toward the downtown core and my waiting work.
He was quite a sight, the kind that might make the good Lord cry out O Jesus God! Look at ya! I never meant for this... All of 5 foot tall and desperately trying to seem taller by wearing cowboy boots and a big cowboy hat. Also, an oversized rich tan suedy looking jacket to match the hat. The effect of course was to dwarf the little fella even more. Betrayed by his own lack of fashion sense among other things. Did I mention the craggy pock marked face and the fish eyes? No? Well, I don't think I need to get detailed, let's just accept that he was not your garden variety specimen of humanity ready to delight any and all comers. I did like that he was going for a look but loved it more that he was botching it with every breath.
After settling back and rejoining my book in progress, I was alarmed back to the point of actually having to turn and crane my neck at the sound. Someone was talking in that I've been everywhere man, I've seen everything man way but with the cadence more a croak than a steady sure tone. Someone was talking in a loud rasp. Stop and think about that. A croaking raspy voice only loud and cracking. It was him, the Electric Horseman speaking with a girl about some injustice or other. Wow, such a voice to match such a man. Sounds like he's got a solution for every problem from a PTA issue to world peace and global economics. He's got the whole world in his hands. If only they weren't so small.
I love the people watching on the train and he was just someone else for me to wonder about. A few days later, I saw him again but at the end of the day and on the ride home. Now commuters are a very special breed. There are all of three stops before the end of the line on my route. After the first stop on the way home, it's still another good 20 minutes to go. At this point, people start to crowd the doorway and jockey for position to be first out into the parking lot. At the last stop. Not the next one or the one after that, the last stop. These are the Runners.
Those train doors open and they start off pell mell down the steepish slope from the platform into the lot. Maniacs really. People bumping into each other and cars as they weave through the lot aching to be on their way. Car alarms are set off by the mad rush and crush of movement. It's just that manic and nuts. Sometimes I hold back a bit just to watch the spectacle.
Wouldn't you know it, the Cowboy is first out of the gate and I watch his little legs carry him to his waiting chariot, a Rabbit, one of the originals by the look of it. Nothing particularly wrong with a Rabbit. Not according to my sister anyway. She got hers when they first came out too but only after she studied Consumer Reports and other such publications. I don't want anything I've had to think that much about. He guns it, narrowly missing a couple of pedestrians as he motors out of the lot. This guy's a danger for sure.
Before long, I find myself paying extra attention to his antics. I hear him croaking on about all the assholes that he encounters everywhere, at work, in the neighborhood or anywhere really. He holds a couple of women who must work with him hostage with his rants. But then I see they're not so much hostages as participants in a strange dance of idiocy. I eventually suss out that one of the women lives near him and also seems to feel that everyone else but their small party is an idiot or asshole. The other girl doesn't say much but nods enough so that I understand she thinks the same way only she's maybe not as articulate.
The Cowboy and his little Cow Pattys. Quaint. Almost.
I'm waiting for the train on the platform one day behind a couple of other people. I've seen these two before chatting conspiratorially. To me, they're the ambiguously gay guy and his sassy unknowing wife. They seem nice enough and I can tell by watching them that they're people watchers too. They make comments with hands cupped at the sides of their mouths which rather than shrouding what they're doing only makes it more obvious.
The lady says something about that guy, you know, the one with the boots, well he almost spit on me the other day. I lean in, this sounds good. I was walking to the train in the morning and he came tearing around the corner and spit a big gob of gum out! He actually spit it out! It just missed me. The a.g. guy says you mean the guy who wears the cowboy hat and stuff? Yeah! Him! Well, I just glared at him and he said to me 'oh sorry, I didn't see you there' and I just said back to him 'yeah I know'. Can you believe him? Spitting! I lean back out. So, others seem to have an opinion of my little friend too, however mundane.
As luck would have it, I'd had a few days off and was glad to not have the Cowboy or anyone else in my sights. Ultimately, I'm a lone gunman. Like my quiet time, don't need the stimuli from the noisy world unless we're talking about the other times when I do need it.
Back in the same routine and line behind Sass and a.g. guy and he starts in with It's too bad you weren't on the train last night. Hmm, maybe they're not married. The hat guy got into an argument with another guy about driving too fast in the parking lot. No! You mean the guy with the boots and hat? Yes, the Cowboy. I had to. I leaned closer and said You mean the good lookin' fella? At this they both turned around, gauged my comment, accepted the sarcasm and laughed. Sass said to me I don't know who you are but I like you. They drew me into the rest of the story. Cowboy Bob had gotten into a bit of a shouting match on the train with another guy who was generally known to be quiet. Cowboy had nearly run him over and the guy mentioned to him that he should be more careful in the parking lot. Cowboy tried to shift the blame. Before they got to the gunslinging, the ride was over and they both ran to their respective cars.
Over time and with our shared love of observing the Cowboy at his worst (he didn't have a best), these two and I struck up a train friendship, even sat together on occasion. Nice people, both as sarcastic as me which I just had to love. Of course I actually edit my sarcasm output because what I often really want to say might make people more afraid than they really need to be at any given exchange with me.
It turns out they are married but their work schedules are all over the place and this is why they're not always on the same ride home. I can't remember why exactly, that would be boring. Feh.
We enjoy many catty chats about our favourite love to hate passenger, zee Cowboy. That's fun until he stops taking the train and we have to focus on others and ourselves for entertainment value on the ride home. There's a lot of good value for money with us together ridin' the rails though. Everyone's a target.
What would that little man think if he know he was personally responsible for forging such train friendships? I don't know. I wonder if that chick stuffed into the spandex could lend some insight.