1. Good company was in great supply last night at the dinner party. I enjoyed meeting Norah's mother, who is quite an oversized gregarious personality indeed. I couldn't help noticing how she has much more pronounced a upper midwestern nasal quality to her voice than her daughter. Television, movies, and the internet have muted and restrained everyone's accent, no matter what the area of origin. Each of us eats the same food, shops at the same stores, focuses on the same pop culture tidbits, and grows ever more similar to the generation before us.
Yet again I was the Deep South representative to the gathering. Interestingly enough, the attendees were overwhelmingly comprised of people from Wisconsin and Minnesota. Dinner was fixed and then consumed, drinks were poured and then drank. Conversation began with pleasantries and shifted quickly to politics, religion, and philosophy. I was in an amazing good mood and feeling humorous. When I'm not feeling well, humor is the first thing to go. At the end, I hated to have to leave when I did, just as the conversation was getting good, but I have to be back here on the unit every night by 10, officially, though if you call and say you're going to be late, and get back in a reasonable hour, then that's forgiven.
2. The Red Line metro back here to NIMH is a fifty minute trip all told from Tacoma Park. Normally I try to pass the time by staring into space or end up people watching in spite of myself. About halfway home four soccer jock girls stepped onto the train and sat down in front of me. Ordinarily I would have ignored them, but I was distracted by their horseplay. In a silly kind of way they were taking their shoes off to show each other the callouses and rough skin of their feet. Having been to a lively, humorous dinner party immediately I was in a jovial mood; when I am in a good mood, I don't mind taking a risk and initiating conversation with random strangers on the metro.
Two of them were shy, shooting me smiles and interested looks, though they were too inhibited to utter a word in my direction. One of them stared directly at my crotch for an extended period of time. Each of them had played soccer in college and made a decent living coaching twelve and thirteen year old private school girls. Though they had been rivals in college, they were now very close. What struck me most is that they were reasonably intelligent. In the south, there is no overlap. Everyone is thrust into a caste system where overlap in impossible. Cheerleaders are ditzy, athletes, regardless of sport are stupid, and as such breaking out of these exacting stereotypes is futile. Though clearly athletes, these girls were capable of speaking a coherent sentence by themselves without a tutor and I'm not accustomed to that where I live.
Meanwhile, the most attractive one, a streetwise blonde from NYC with an understandably slender athletic build and an eyebrow piercing, got off at a stop before the other three. Before exiting the car she gave each of her friends a deliberate, theatrical peck against the cheek, then, her hands wrapped around the aluminum pole of the car like a dancer, flirtatiously and quite deliberately swung her body past me on her way off the car. She wished me a safe journey and a good night. The next step was mine.
3. Someone tried to sell me drugs last night. To get to street level on my stop, one must ride or walk up a very large escalator. I was unconsciously gesticulating with my right hand, imploring a man to move aside so that I could walk by. The unwritten rule in the Metro is that those who wish to ride the escalator stay to the right and those wishing to walk it stay to the left. He was blocking the left hand side, wearing a khaki-colored trench coat. A woman was blocking my path on the right, so that my way was totally blocked. In retrospect I realize he was doing this to hand over the drugs to a buyer, who was standing to the right.
He interpreted my gesture to mean, Oh, so you'd like to buy something as well?
And, realizing this, and looking at the joint he was offering me, I nodded my head vigorously sideways, pushing past him as quickly as I could. I made large strides to the top of the escalator, and it wasn't until I had arrived on ground level and was walking quickly back to this building that I understood precisely what had transpired.