I have a confession to make. There exists, within the deepest, darkest reaches of my soul, a not-so-secret, whiny, and eternally suffering (read: puke-inducing) “romantic.” By romantic, I of course mean Emo. Unsurprising though it may be (indeed, how could the banal horrors of conservative Colorado suburbia fail to produce anything less than the most troubled of hearts), my status as Emo is one that I both embrace (because you don’t know what it’s like to feel things!) and shrink from (like a frightened turtle). But wait, you say, surely you can’t be one of them. Surely there exists some semblance of a rational human being who realizes that the feeling of “No one knows what I feel like” (ref http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IR0gpraSscQ) is, in fact, a feeling that is so ubiquitous, it’s nauseating.
I’m sorry to disappoint, faithful reader, but it’s time I faced the truth. Case and point: Riding the T the other day, I was enjoying the pseudo-high that comes from the oddly detached feeling one gets wearing headphones in crowded. Though there can be little doubt of the visual connection to the people around you, the bizarre gap between what you see and what you hear (“Do you ever get lonely, baby?”) invariably invokes the feeling of God-like invincibility I can only assume headphone-toting pizza delivery boys and God enjoy on a regular basis. Thus superficially separated from everyone around me, I am startled to feel my cell phone vibrating against my leg. Upon checking the so announced voicemail, I discover that my 4:00 appointment has decided not to show up and my trip south to UMass is thus an exercise in futility. Hooray for modern technology.
Undeterred, I confidently rise from my seat at the next station, exit the train, and rather foolishly cross the platform to board the train heading in the opposite direction. It is upon boarding said train that the (oh so Emo-licious) thought occurs to me: Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy a bagel and cup of tea while staring moodily out of the the darkening winter windows of An Bon Pain? Poor decision though it clearly was, I nevertheless decide to pursue this “adventure.”
I showed up at ABP, glanced at the price of a cup of tea, helped myself to a poppy-seed bagel, experienced mildly linguistic difficulty in paying for my starchy snack and delicious hot beverage (“Just this bagel and a cup of tea please” “What size coffee do you want?” “No, a cup of tea please.” “Do you want cream or sugar with your coffee?” “No, I’d like a cup of tea please.” “That’ll be $3.59.” “Wait, isn’t tea $1.59?” “Oh! You want tea?!?! You should have said so!”) I kid you not, this is the exchange that took place. After obtaining my (apparently mispronounced) cup of tea, I find a seat in the corner and sit down. After 5 painful minutes of subjugating myself to the oh-so-tragic adolescent phenomenon of the imagined audience, I quickly rummage through my bag looking for something to distract me.
Why do you suppose I found?
A book of poetry.
So here I am, sitting in a little coffee shop in the middle of Cambridge, brooding about the time I lost on the T (completely oblivious to the time I’m wasting here), staring glassy-eyed out into an icy alleyway, reading poetry. Oh God.
The (Adventure Part of the) Adventure
After losing myself to the poetic whims (could there be a more effeminate expression for it?) of Thomas Hardy and D. H. Lawrence for nearly an hour, I make the emotionally-laden decision to rise from my corner and brave the Cambridge cold to head back to my dorm. (cue: emphatic music). It is at this point that a rather homeless looking individual begins moving rapidly in my direction. Not one for stereotypes, I try not to flinch in preparation for an assault. As I work my way out from the table, my eyes unfocused and my head blurred from the literary endeavor, I become increasingly aware that there is no way to avoid the approaching individual. His eyes are clearly locked on me. I can’t get out of the corner. A confrontation in inevitable.
“Wanna buy some cologne?”
“What?!?” I am alarmed, shaken, and not a little puzzled by this inquiry.
“I got Adidas.” I bet you do.
“Uh, no, thanks.”
“Cheap, cheap prices.”
“C’mon man. Buy some cologne.”
It is at this point (that is, the point at which the question of solicitation became a statement) that I find an inexplicable rage rise within me. Not the huffy, jewish-mother-from-the-Bronx-I’m-gonna-tawlk-to-muy-girlfriends-about-it kind of anger. Like, full-on I’m-gonna-hit-you-as-hard-as-I possibly-can-in-the-mouth irritation. For some reason, my inner Emo decided he did not like the less than friendly solicitations of a local cologne dealer. Who knew?
Calling upon the deepest reserves of my morally righteous upbringing, I hold back my fist. Unfortunately, I can not say the same for my tongue. My voice rose with unnatural pitch and volume and I could hardly feel myself saying,
“No! I don’t want any! Get the hell away from me!”
Three things happened in rapid succession: 1) the store manager who, much to my surprise, had been standing at the next table whipped around, fixed his eyes on my assaulter, and said something with the phrase “911” in it. 2) Mr. Soliciter’s eyes grew rather wide, his jaw slackened, and he did the fastest turn-and-run I have seen in a very long time. 3) Your humble narrator, rather shocked by his own actions, dropped his now empty tea cup, quickly pulled down his beanie, and rapidly made for the rear exit, only to discover that there was none. As I turned around, I quickly took note of the situation. The solicitor had been apprehended by a store employee, the manager was talking rapidly and angrily on the phone, and no one seemed to know that it was me who had made the rather outrageous comment in the first place.
With my scarf tucked high around my face, I made my way as nonchalantly out of store as I could, paying careful attention to avoiding Mr. Solicitor’s gaze. As I slipped out the glass door, I did not stop to wonder what might happen if I stuck around to repeat my accusation to Cambridge police. Instead, I plowed my way quickly through the mass of tourists who thankfully covered my exit onto the nearest bus.
All I could hear as I rushed to the back of the bus were the crazed words racing around the inside of my head:
No, no, it is the three strange angels.
Admit them, admit them.