Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Dear Fellow Former Kansan on the R Train This Evening:

It’s true, I’m a Jerkface. When I entered the train, I did notice you. You were smiling and said something directly to me, but I gave you little thought (“Crazy. Don’t sit next to it.”) until I sat down and realized you’d said, “Jayhawk.” I’m wearing my KU sweatshirt today, which tends to get weird looks for reasons I cannot guess. (Are they thinking, “Why are you not wearing your I heart NY t-shirt, Farmer Edna?” Probably.) I give you mad respect for trying again. On an average day at 10 past 5 p.m. my face usually looks like a baseball mitt full of bees. I’m not what they call “approachable.” Baby, you tried.

You chatted me up until the next stop, asking me if I was from Lawrence, telling me you grew up there, asking me where I was from and could I believe the football team was doing something amazing (you said what it was, but I can’t remember, only to say that I’ve heard that something unlikely is happening with our football team, which is about all my brain will ever care to absorb). You asked me how long I’d been here, told me you’d been here nine years, and you told me about a bar uptown that has a room in the back where you can watch all the KU games. I said something unnecessarily cynical and you bid adieu with a “Take care.”

Of course at one point I figured you were making a move, because that’s the only other reason I could imagine you’d be talking to me. I mean, c’mon. You’re a boy, I’m a girl…why else were you being so friendly? (And, let’s be honest, it’s me we’re talking about. Try to resist but you cannot.) As you walked away, I realized that you were Being Nice. It was a particular glint in your eye, the one that told me you knew I was sizing you up and considering my answers carefully. In this city, what stranger would you trust? Now, back home we’re not a gaggle of grinning goobers snuggling up to each other and smooching on the lips all the live long day, but it is a different place. People are more commonly friendly without ulterior motives. It’s pretty jarring when I visit home twice a year. The suspicion is hard to suppress.

How nice it was to run across a fellow goober today. Thanks for trying. And I know you were making a move, even just a little.


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