Sunday, December 23, 2007

Me and Mean Maxine

Written Saturday, December 22, at 10:55 a.m.

As I write, I am sitting smooshed on the train home. I am sitting adjacent to the most unpleasant woman ever. Really. An oversold train is no place to start in with moral indignation, which is exactly what she did when I attempted to move her paired pink luggage to make room for my one little bag.

I want to give this woman a name. I think she could be a Maxine. She is certainly sassy enough, although not in the good way. Mean Maxine.

“No! Don’t move my bag! What did you do? Why aren’t they together anymore? It’s going to fall! Put my bags back together! That will be easier when I get off! Why won’t this fit anymore? Did you put something there? People can’t just shove other people’s things!”

As usual, being the amateur sociologist that I am, I have a few observations:

1. I should mention that the guy behind me attempted to help me put my bag on the luggage rack. While this endeared him to me pretty much forever, it wasn’t really that necessary because I am badass enough to mangle other people’s packing arrangements on my own. My lady friend Maxine, however, did not seem to realize that I was the architect and primary executor of the evil scheme to heave her belongings into disarray. She therefore directed her anger at the guy trying to help. Because, you know, I’m just a girl.

I bet some poor conductor had to put her bags up there for her. I bet she stood there and told him he was doing it wrong.

2. Maxine was never a student of physics. Or, if she was, she was not a particularly successful student of physics. Concepts Maxine fails to grasp include the following:
a. Inertia. Maxine’s bag was not moving—I mean, at least not once I stopped sullying its pink perfection. It was not going to fall. Unless I decided to make it fall, of course, which at this point I was liable to do.
b. Center of gravity. Barring the possibility that Maxine had lined the bottom three inches of her bag with lead, there was no way that the small amount of suitcase looming ominously over my head—you wouldn’t think anything so pink could be ominous, but Maxine made it so—could contain enough weight to send it careening down. But apparently this impending crash was a source of concern for Maxine.

3. Once I hid my crying enough to dare give Maxine a dirty look—yes, she made me cry, not because she hurt my feelings but because she enraged me so—I noticed her ensemble. It was pretty festive. The obvious festive pieces were the bright red sparkly sweater and the big ring with pink and red rhinestones, but as looked more closely as the embodiment of cruelty, I noticed her earrings. They were wreaths. I thought they were just woven gold circles, but upon further inspection, I saw the little red bows that topped each one.

For someone who is so festive, Maxine does not have very much Christmas spirit.

**Note: I have moved to a seat across the aisle. It is much less smooshed and far enough from Maxine that I don’t fear she will claw me to death for touching her suitcase. This seat also gives me a new vantage point from which to view the ensemble, and I can now see the pin on her red “I’m a lady who wears a hat” hat. The pin is a woman’s head. The woman is wearing a red hat. Who knew old-lady accessories could be so meta?

4. Maxine is the most important person in the universe. This is abundantly clear already, I know, but it got even better once she took her seat, aired her last few uppity grievances to no one in particular, and resumed her crossword puzzle. Out loud. She’s one of those people who exhales, “Aaaand six down…” It’s intolerable. But of course Maxine does this because she’s very important and interesting, and we should all know that she is deeply invested in finding the correct answer to six down. I worked on something to say about it—and it was going to be sassy, let me tell you—but I was too convinced that she would send me into a fit of furious tears again.


Update: I'm home now, and I have slept more than 4 hours, and I have decided that-- while I do not understand why Maxine felt compelled to freak out at me for shifting her luggage-- she is probably not an evil person. She even offered me her pen when I had to sign my ticket, indicating not only the presence of a soul but also the conclusion of her crossword puzzle commentary. It does not explain why she had to work all the bitchy out of her system at 10:45 in the morning, but that's okay.

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