So I was riding home on the subway, sick, tired, off a hard day’s night which makes a lot more sense after daylight savings switches off and turns the best part of the day into another irritating period of vitamin-D deficiency.
I was paler than usual, feeling thin and generally unappreciated professionally, and especially unappreciated physically, because I hadn’t been eating right the last couple of days, and had skipped shaving because I was afraid I’d have a dizzy spell while holding a razor to my neck. Something similar could be said for showering, so I said it and skipped that too.
Since I wasn’t going to any client meetings or impressing any girls that day, I had decided to go full deadbeat and don my skull-encrusted “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers” super tight biker shirt, and throw on my crotch-rocket girls motorcycle jacket (however you parse that noun phrase, you’ll probably be right). To reduce irony and make sure I wasn’t mistaken for a hipster, I’d found the largest, loosest, scummiest cargo pants in my laundry, and gone to work.
Work sucked, and that brings us back to the train on the way home.
Midway home, a kid gets on the train and double takes my visage. Too tired to even put up with first takes, I just sigh and hope he’s not afraid of me, or shocked by me, or offended by me, because really, all I ever wanted was to be comfortable and hot enough to be dateable, so all these things are just layers on the skin, they don’t say who I am except in so far as they display the kinds of things I’m willing to display about myself, and everybody should be able to express themselves and fuck you for judging me man. My head rambled freely and feverishly through all the various identity issues and counter-issues that so occupied my college years, as I stared fiercely at my magazine.
The kid checked me out a couple more times, and on the way out, I had to get around him, so I mumbled a semi-audible “excuse me” and stepped on his shoe by accident. He said something garbled, I said sorry, and trudged up the stairs to get to the trudge down the street that leads to the trudge up more stairs to my apartment.
Then, midway through trudge two, I realized what the kid had said, which was “Nice shirt, man.”
“Fuck me,” I said. Because there I was having a miserable, self-loathing moment of angst, and this kid comes along and validates my outfit, and by extension my whole tactic for dealing with the day, and almost snaps me out of my whole fever-induced underage funk, and I just mumbled sorry because I assumed he was an asshole for no good reason at all.
So dude, if you’re out there, thank you. You are awesome, and your shirt was cool too. Catch me on a better day, but don’t compliment me on my shirt on a better day because then I’ll just think you’re shallow.