Read more from Marci over at xoVain!
I'm inexplicably optimistic about the possibility of meeting guys on the train. I've unsolicitedly given my number to three fellow subway commuters over the last two years, none of which resulted in communication. One attempt at a number hand-off actually earned me a half-sneer and a hostile "What is it?" It's just a card with my name and number, dude. No anthrax, no proselytizing. Sheesh.
The only time I've ever been approached in a non-annoying way by a guy on the train was a few months ago, when Hannah was in town and we were on our way to the Williamsburg flea markets. A tall guy tapped me on the shoulder and said, with the most precise timing, "I just wanted to tell you that you're beautiful," exiting the train without offering or asking for a number.
The hope remains that someone I'm drawn to on the train or platform will be drawn to me first, but despite the total lack of positive feedback, I don't see myself being unwilling to give a guy my number again if I'm so moved. And I really do wait to be genuinely moved to do it, so as not to gain the reputation as that beauty editor who gives her number to every cute guy with a MetroCard.
Yesterday, I was, in fact, moved to do it again. But I didn't. And now I'm not sure if I missed a special opportunity or stopped myself from being a kind of horrible person.After getting on the N train around 9:30, I leaned against the doors at the end of the car, exactly like you're not supposed to. At the nearest pole stood an attractive couple in their late 20s or early 30s. She, a brunette with shoulder-length hair, was wearing a grayish marled cardigan, jeans with a stripe down the side of each leg, and turquoise loafers. I wasn't particularly wowed by her outfit, but her face was stunning.
He was… well, he was my type. Thin, bearded, with shaggy, medium-brown hair. He wore a gray T-shirt and jeans. At first, there was nothing that stood out to me about them other than their overall attractiveness; but then I noticed him whisper something to her and wipe his eyes against his sleeve. Was he just commenting privately about his allergies?
I couldn't see her face, and even what they said outside of whispers was inaudible to me because I was wearing earbuds and trying not to blatantly watch them. But as she turned away from him, it became apparent that he was crying. It wasn't a blubbering sob. It was a quiet, held-back-as-much-as-he-could weep. I felt like I swallowed my tongue and it was plummeting into my stomach. I think I just witnessed a pretty serious breakup.
SO MANY THOUGHTS. So many conflicting, selfish and selfless thoughts. I started wondering if there would be an appropriate way to pat him on the back; an appropriate way to hand him a note that said "It'll be OK"; an appropriate way to hand him a note that said "It'll be OK" plus my number.
What is wrong with me? It's none of my business. Even if I just wanted to give him a comforting smile and leave it at that, it's none of my goddamn business. I just happened to be standing five feet away, and I'm being irrationally swayed by my attraction to him and his vulnerability.
At this point, there was a knock on the door behind me. It was a man who regularly begs on the N train in the morning. He has one leg, crutches, a harmonica, and no fear of hobbling between subway cars on the Manhattan Bridge.
I opened the door for him, and he passed through the crowd -- between the couple -- moving them a few feet apart. When we reached Canal Street a few moments later, a seat opened up and the woman sat down, very intently looking away from the guy while he leaned against the pole, looked down, and continued crying.
One stop later, at Prince Street, she stood up -- I admit, I judged her a bit for sitting down for one stop on a crowded train -- and exited. He turned around, hung his head even lower, and followed her off. Maybe they're co-workers, I wondered. How awkward.
Not as potentially awkward as it might have been if I'd attempted to do any of the things I'd considered doing moments before, I'm guessing. But part of me really regrets not doing something. I was so touched by how hurt this guy was, but I'm also very aware that I wouldn't have considered doing even the most benignly compassionate act I'd been deliberating if he hadn't been attractive to me. That knee-jerk combination of superficiality and sympathy may mean I wouldn't deserve to hear from him had I decided to give him a note with my number on it. But at least he would've gotten a reminder that there's more out there for him once his pain passes. I hope it's sooner rather than later.