Anyone who has been to Boston knows how the people are there; fast-paced, say it how it is, and impatient. Generally speaking they don't give a crap about what anyone else thinks. They're protective, supportive, and fierce.
I guess you could compare them to a lion.
Now let's think about this for a moment.
-If you see a lion in Africa, it is SO COOL! You love everything about them, you don't bother them because they could kill you, and you love being a part of their life for a brief moment in time.
-If you see a lion at the zoo, it's cool. You can view them from a distance and get an idea of what they're like. You don't bother them because they could kill you, and you move along to the zebras.
-If a lion corners you in downtown Salt Lake City, you will be attacked. And you may die.
And that's what it's like with Bostonians.
You LOVE them when they're in Boston! You don't bug them, and you go along with their way of life and love being a part of it.
When they're visiting your home, you like them, you don't really acknowledge each other, and you respect each others space and don't bother each other.
And then when one comes up to you and forces a conversation upon you? Well, it's flight or fight time.
Or in my case . . . you pretend that you're enjoying their company.
Don't get me wrong - Boston is my favorite city in the United States. I LOVE the people, the culture, and would happily adapt to their way of life if I lived there. I'm not scared of Bostonians when I'm in Boston.
Now when corners you? It's kinda scary, and it's livable. When one corners you and begins to hit on you? It's a life-threatening situation here, people.
So here's what happened.
I found myself on the 45 minute train ride back home at almost nine o' clock at night. Now, public transportation at nighttime is a sketchy experience itself, so I wanted to tuck myself away, become invisible, and have some "me" time.
I took a seat on the second level by the window, and cracked open my copy of Me Before You to read.
I hadn't even finished a page when I heard someone say, "Whatcha reading?"
I looked up to see a tall, scrawny African-American guy with glasses.
"Uh . . ."
My mind was suddenly completely blank.
"This." I said, propping my book up and pointing at it.
Like a true gentleman, he sat down across from me and grabbed the book from my hands. He closed it, flipped it around and began reading the back.
So glad he did that before I had the chance to insert my bookmark into it.
"Me Before You, huh?" he said.
After he finished reading the back, he slid the book back to me and said, "So is this your life story?"
I gave a forced laugh and said, "Ha ha, yeah. Wait, what?"
(Side note: Me Before You is about a woman taking care of a paraplegic man and they fall in love. So yes. It's totally my life story.)
"So where are you from?" he asked, leaning forward on the table that sat between us.
"Uh, Sandy slash Draper area? Utah?"
I don't know if it's a gift I have or what, but I could EASILY see and sense his emotion change just by the slight falter in his eyes.
"Oh, so you're a Utah Mormon then, huh?"
Definition of a Utah Mormon in Carmen's terms:
-A member of the Mormon Church who is close minded, nieve, and innocent in the ways of the world. They've never left Utah and don't plan to. They don't associate with those who are non-mormon. They're judgmental in a negative way. Generally speaking, they have dyed their hair blonde at some point in their life. They strive for perfection.
I have worked my whole life to make SURE I didn't fall into this stigma, and to make sure nobody THOUGHT I fell into that stigma.
"If you mean I'm LDS and am from Utah, then yes," I said.
He gave me a large eye roll and said, "Utah just has a very different way of running things."
"So does every other state," I said sounding MUCH chipper than I was actually feeling. "Each place has their own culture."
He did another eye roll and went, "Mmmmm."
"SO WHERE ARE YOU FROM?!" I said loudly through gritted teeth, eager to change the subject.
"Boston," he said, and I registered his slight Boston accent.
"I love Boston," I said, grateful that we had something to talk about that I was actually interested in. "It is such a beautiful city, and my dad runs the marathon almost every year and-."
I stopped. Once again, a subtle shift in his aura and eyes.
. . . and I knew what was coming.
"You had to bring up the marathon, didn't you?" he breathed.
Now pure annoyance filled my whole body. And I braced myself for what was ahead.
"You do NOT mess with Boston. And you know what's worse? They lied to us. THEY. LIED. TO. US."
He paused for dramatic effect.
This guy was honestly catching me off so guard that I didn't really know how to react to anything he said. So, in auto pilot mode I said, "Who lied to you?"
"THE POLICE DID."
"They told us that they were bringing those . . . those TERRORISTS to (blahblah) hospital. We were lined up. EVERYONE was lined up, even journalists, ready to get their hands on him and finish the job. But what did they do? The cops LIED to us and took him to a different hospital instead. They would rather lie to us and save a terrorist's life than tell us the truth AND LET US - THE CITIZENS - KILL HIM!"
Thank you inner Olivia Benson, for expressing precisely what I was feeling/thinking in this moment.
For the first time since this kid had sat down, I finally was able to say that I didn't agree with him.
"I think that was a good decision."
"Why?!" he said.
"I wanted him to have a fair trial. And he got what he deserved."
Good job, Carmen. You expressed your opinion firmly.
He leaned forward again.
"Yeah, well, the old me would've said that too. You don't know what it felts like being there. Were you there? WERE YOU THERE?"
"Uh, no. I was home, and my parents and my sister and her family were there, so it was super scary not being able to be there and not know what was going on," I sputtered at like, a million miles per hour.
"I'm not undermining what you went through-"
Oh whatever you're about to say I guarantee is about to "undermine" what I went through.
"but you have no idea how scary it was. It was awful. There was a terrorist attack. You have no IDEA how scary it was. You didn't even begin to experience what it was like."
It was at this moment when I was filled with FURY, and a slew of emotions swelled into my body:
I completely shut down and stopped listening until his tone changed and I knew I was safe again.
. . . well kind of safe.
". . . but yeah enough about that. There's plenty of things to do in Boston. The freedom trail, the duck tours, the parks, it's great."
"Mmm. Yeah. Must've been a huge culture shock for when you came here. It's so different here. I mean, I love Boston because the people there say it how it is, it's so fast paced and . . . "
I trailed off, because once again the annoyance returned to his face. He leaned forward again.
"Have you even BEEN to Boston?" he said in a surprisingly threatening voice.
I leaned forward and my confidence returned briefly as I matched his tone and said, "Four. Times." with a sickly sweet smile on my face.
"Oh! Wow! So you DO know Boston!" he said with pure shock in his eyes and voice.
"So you know how it is," he continued. "People here are so different than in Boston, and it's hard."
"Oh yeah, I believe that," I said, finally sincerely agreeing with him on something.
"And I mean, the dating game is hard enough in Boston, but with how people are here it's just a lot harder for me."
"Oh, yeah. I mean, I'm from Utah and I hate the dating game, so I can't imagine being from Boston and dealing with it!" I said.
"Oh, so you're single?" he said cleverly.
I walked right into that.
". . . . . . . yup."
Oh, why oh why didn't I lie?
I think because this whole situation just caught me SO off guard, my brain was clueless and my voice was taking control of the situation.
"Excellent," he said smoothly. "I'd like to go out with you. I'm free on Saturday-
-so I'll give you my number, and it's your choice to call me or not."
He leaned forward and pulled my bookmark (a scrap piece of paper that I had written down my next doctors appointment on) towards him and said, "You gotta pen?"
"Uh . . . " I began digging through my bag, knowing that if I gave him a pen, he would most likely leave me be, and I could get back to my "me" time.
"Come on, you should have one."
I know he was kidding. At least I hoped he was kidding. I felt so irked and annoyed. I was grateful I was looking into my bag so I could glare at that instead of him.
. . . or was I really grateful?
"Oh wait! You have a phone! Even better!" he said.
And he proceeded to grab the phone out of my bag.
"What's your password?" he asked casually.
I reached across the table, pulled it out of his hand, and mumbled in a semi-annoyed voice, "I'll type it in for you."
I did so, and handed it back to him.
Now, the wallpaper on my phone was of my baby niece.
"This baby - is she yours or a niece?"
"Niece." I said.
"I DON'T JUDGE!"
"Carmen. That's a pretty name." he said.
That's when it dawned on me that we didn't actually know each others names.
"Thank you. What's yours?"
"It's in the phone."
"Well if I don't know your name I wont be able to find it in my phone," I said - once again through gritted teeth and a sticky, sweet smile on my face.
He proceeded to get a very annoyed look on his face, show me the screen for a split second, then slam my phone down and slide it back to me.
Thank you . . . so very much.
There was a brief silence.
"Which stop are you getting off at?" I asked, still amazed at how polite I was being. Why couldn't I be sassy when it was appropriate?
"The next one," he responded.
Oh sweet, glorious freedom! How I have missed you!
"I see you're wearing an Orem Institute shirt," I said. "Are you in institute?"
He glanced down.
"Oh, I need to sign up. Thanks for the reminder. I'm a convert to the church."
"No way! How did you find the church?" I asked.
". . . .Oh. Okay, how did . . . you find the missionaries?"
Okay, buddy. You're not giving me a lot to go off of here.
"How did . . . the church find you?"
"Then what's your . . . story?" I asked.
He leaned forward and I recognized his Boston accent coming out again.
"I was in a dark place in life. I prayed, got the revelation that I needed to join this church. I joined, Jesus saved me, and now it's cause of him that I'm gonna live with God again."
"That's an excellent motto," I said.
"It's not a motto. It's the truth," he said very sternly.
I literally had no response and somehow managed to squeak out an, "Oh, okay."
Another uncomfortable pause.
"So what are you doing in Utah? Working? Going to school?"
"I work." he said.
"If you want to find out, you're gonna have to ask me on that date."
Oh, trust me buddy. I really wasn't that committed. I think I'd be fine if I never, ever found out where you worked.
"Now arriving at Orem Central. If this is your stop, please prepare to exit." rang the Frontrunner voice.
Sweet relief filled my entire body as he stood up to leave.
"So, call me. Hopefully I'll see you on Saturday,"
"Yeah, nice to meet you!" I said as he left.
Oh man that was a lie. CURSE THIS POLITENESS THAT COMES WHEN I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.
I watched him trot down the stairs, still expecting him to run back up and say something else to me, or hit on another woman. Thankfully, he didn't come back. And I really was quite thankful he didn't take my number. Or phone, for that matter.
I exited the train at my stop a half hour later, and sped walked to my car. For some reason that conversation had rattled me and I felt the heebee jeebees.
As I drove home, I began thinking about the situation and thought, "I should start wearing a fake wedding ring on public transit just to avoid situations like this. Oh, but Carmen! What if you meet your soul mate on the front runner? You'll miss your chance!"
I keep reminding myself that the liklihood of meeting my soul mate on the front runner is incredibly slim, seeing as the only people who seem to talk to the strangers on the bus are the mentally unstable ones, or . . . just those you're not interested in. Like that Boston fellow.
And yet this weird part of me remains hopeful that maybe , just maybe, I'll meet my future husband on the train.
. . . though to be frank, I could see it turning out to be something more like this:
Have an awkward day, everyone!
And thanks fo' reading. I appreciate it. Like really. I go through these awful experiences and I feel like a reason I go through them is for others to laugh with/at me and share their equally (if not more) awkward moments with me.
. . . Maybe awkwardness is the key to bringing peace on earth. It brings people together.