under the influence.


My roommate gave me a book to borrow a few months ago. It’s about influence (advertising and the like), and that’s all I know. I read one chapter on an airplane before wrapping myself in a scarf like I was a swaddled baby and the mother at the same time. It’s a new method of plane-sleeping that says a lot about creativity and comfort. Look at me, I won’t notice.

I am thinking about reading the book tonight in the Laundromat. Sometimes, I go there and pretend like I live in a romantic comedy. I sit on top of the washing machines, even though there are chairs, and read something like a literary novel or a trash magazine while not trying to seem very introspective and mysteriously attractive. There is a pizza place next door, and I think about getting a slice, but the part of me who left her bag in her unlocked car even after it was broken into has matured into a skeptic. Someone might want my target towels or monogrammed pillowcases. I don’t know; trust is no longer a banner hanging in the cafeteria.

My life can be something, I think.

The other night when I almost missed my train to the suburbs, I remembered the lustful dream of folding someone’s boxers while chewing a piece of gum rescued from a pocket. I was confused, and I remembered the feeling while wondering how many commuting fathers really ate fast food on their way home at night. I forgot to finish the thought when I realized I wasn’t sure where I was going. My phone was dying. I was sweating. I thought about girl power and anti-feminism all at the same time. My brain’s a busy place.

As it turned out, I wasn’t left behind and decided to feel like an empowered business woman; I was surrounded only by men in suits. Oh, the world, the city, the suburbs, the weekend: I couldn’t read or sleep and felt eyes on my skin.

Conductors are not accepting credit cards, and it costs $9.25 cents to ride on a train for 53 minutes. Nobody told me any of that. But now, I know. I also know that that one conductor is writing screenplays. He hated high school academics and was absolutely not going to college, so he enlisted. He was working on a helicopter on a boat when he started writing down his jokes and life experiences. Then someone told him he was accidentally writing a screenplay.

He doesn’t want to sell it for just anything or to just anyone; he’s spent too much time on it. His idea is way too original. But he has faith.

He feels secure in his job but doesn’t understand why people don’t read the train schedule. They expect him to know it. Just like I expected him to have a credit card machine built into his hand, or at least some sort of iDevice like the man in that rural Virginia coffee shop. His shop was turning into a cart, and it really made the most sense. It’s crazy how expensive things are, but it’s wonderful how portable life can be these days.

The conductor doesn’t know anyone, but all of the people who could know someone say his screenplay is something special.

He asked me what I did, what I studied in college, and if I liked the country. He asked me what I wrote and if he was bothering me. Get back to me later, I said, and no, you’re not. I was actually wondering who could hear me and if some day I would live in a place where people took $9 trains to work.

That was on Friday, and now I’m here. Maybe I should read that book.


2 thoughts on “under the influence.

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