Midday Train to Albany: Part One
If you’ve never ridden on a train before, what is that all about? Okay, chill! Before you try to crowd me about my somewhat class-ist statement I know that everyone may not be able to afford a train ride. Yes, I know that I shouldn’t assume everyone has my financial freedom, whatever that means. My point is that if/whenever you are in need of travel and have time, why would you not be taking the train? I was recently on a train to Albany. Along the way I had many intriguing experiences. As always I would like to share some of them with you so that I can get another perspective on certain occurrences or hypothetical occurrences. During my travels I had a pseudo conversation with a Latina inside the train station awaiting our train, and had a nice chat with two younger men, one the Black snack bar attendee and the other a White conductor. This alone is quite a rarity. Other than the Underground Railroad (which brings to mind Harriet Tubman and the pioneering couple of Northern New York, Don and Vivian Papson), I don’t recall seeing on any previous train rides any underrepresented people. What I am about to share with you next though may give you some insight into my mind that could truly scare you. Regardless, I have an analysis of a conversation I had with these two men and the pseudo conversation with the Latina that I want to share with you. I will share both of these conversations in two parts across two blog postings, hence the Part One reference in the title begins with the lovely Latina.
Part One: On some level I felt like I was Rick Blane (Humphrey Bogart’s character in Casablanca). Unlike Rick, I was not in a moment that immediately followed a heart break served by an outrageously charming, stylish, beautiful woman (Ingrid Bergman portraying Ilsa Lund). I had never bootlegged arms, never owned a Casino, and never been smooth enough to look a woman in her eyes and say “here’s looking at you, kid!” But I was feeling that Bogart cool, that Bogart rugged handsome. I had on my form fitting Calvin Klein jeans with my stylish dress-up/dress-down wingtip boots. That morning I had worked out (pushups, stomach crunches, weights, and thirty-minute bike ride) so I was feeling like quite the fit specimen. Similar to the old 80s R&B singing group, I was “ready for the world.” I entered the train station that would allow me to embark upon my trip to Albany expecting to have some adventures to chronicle, but little did I know the party was about to start immediately.
A beautiful, dark haired, athletic looking, shapely, long legged, averting eyed, succulent lipped Latina was the only person sitting in the station. I haven’t traveled on trains that often, but she was quite beautiful, and unbelievably sexy. So this is where my mind intrigues even me. On any given day, soon after entering a train station I would immediately immerse myself in a book, send texts out to the crew, watch a movie on the laptop, grade papers (listening to John Coltrane of course), or read some article that will help me grow or one that I wish I had written. On this day I was mesmerized by her presence and had to struggle not to stare the majority of the time I was anywhere near her. I watched her go outside to smoke a cigarette that I could not imagine would, by any stretch of the imagination, adversely affect her lungs. After all, doesn’t beauty give you a down payment on most everything in life? Okay, I acknowledge I am being a bit preposterous here, but indulge me! I understand that the problem which results from beauty privilege is, after the down payment, can you make the other payments? Whether the Latina could make additional payments or not, I started to imagine that she could have a crush on me and simply be sitting over there hoping I would say something. What I wanted to say to her after witnessing her playing with the ends of her hair for approximately ten minutes was this: “It was fascinating watching you truly fascinated with your hair!” It would have been quite a lyrical entry into a conversation with someone inclined toward an intriguing conversation. However, someone not inclined, might have declined attempting to appreciate my prosaic entree into conversation, leaving me with frustration. I wasn’t having that!
I thought about all those movies where two strangers meet on a train and the intensity just heats right up. I got up to purchase a water and asked myself should I offer her a water just to start a conversation, or perhaps, at the very least, to have the opportunity to hear her talk. I thought of how that type of action could make her nervous, anxious, though it didn’t have to mean anything, or could be the catalyst for a flirtatious conversation between two people who could just get caught up in one another’s conversation on the way to getting caught up in one another. She could literally be sitting there hoping I would say something because she is too shy to do it herself. I also thought of how she probably didn’t know I existed before I came into the station, and wouldn’t attest to my existence after any exchange we might have. Doses of reality don’t come cheap!
Yes, I thought of what it means for me, a married man, to even have thoughts like this? President Jimmy Carter once admitted he had lusted, so if a peanut farming, Olympic boycotting president could admit it, how much will I get beat down for it? There was also an age differential of some years, though exactly what that might have been I am not sure. Her age could have been anywhere from ten years younger than me to ten years older than me. Did I just blow your mind? Okay, but she probably was about ten years my junior. So, with a potential generation between us, was there anything I really could have said to her that she would have been interested in hearing. Okay, and then there was the racial/cultural divide. She was Latina, I am a black (say it loud). While both of those cultural groups are reputed to have “flava,” so does lip gloss and a Marlboro cigarette, but everyone isn’t trying to put them both to their lips.
Is it natural, healthy, sexy, problematic, dysfunctional to see someone that you find quite alluring and then cast them immediately for a starring role in one of your dreams? While I haven’t had flights of fancy like this often, I have had them often enough to know I can’t be alone. Is this that feeling they call having a crush on someone? I have had fantasy become reality before, and once you have experienced a dream, do you quit on other dreams, or believe more is available to you if you continue to believe? Am I still talking about gazing at a Latina from afar, or have I somehow transitioned into a more profound discourse? What are your thoughts?