Sunday, December 21, 2003

I went to O_____ by train. It was a long journey. Everyone was going home for the holidays. The seats were filled with grandmas handing out home baked goods from plastic containers. The people sitting beside these ladies had a dusting of powdered sugar on their laps. The aisles were filled with homeward bound students drinking tall cans of Foster's. The most exciting event of the trip was someone being caught smoking in the lavatories. They tossed him out at the next stop. His friends stayed on the train and continued the journey, waving to the smoker as the train pulled away. I occupied my time by chatting with the cookie dispensing grandmas which would take the seat across from me. When one reached her destination, she would gather her bags and disembark. Five minutes later, she would be replaced by another grandma. I would chat. I would get cookies. She would disembark and the process would begin again. For each one, I would invent a new life history and personality. Sometimes, I would be the French dentist. As I recounted my difficult childhood in the 18th district of Paris, I would lapse into non-sensical French as I struggled to find the correct English for, "Je pense que me donnez la pisse-chaud." Other times, I was the travelling American who just loved, 'this goddamn country!' Inevitably, I would tell them about my pet dog, 'Shakey'.

"He's real sweet but he's epileptic. Sometimes when I walk him, He'll get the fits and it's like I got a trophy fish on the end of a fishing line. Instead of a majestic Marlin breaching the ocean surface, I have a shiatsu spraying doggy spit from its foaming mouth. I would put him to sleep but the kids love when Shakey starts 'dancing'. If he has his fits at home with the kids, they'll get on the floor with him and 'break dance' giggling and beat-boxing the whole time. It's just precious."

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