Chicago Trip: Part II of V
It's tempting to begin this with my toes again, but I don't have the time. All you need to know is you have nothing to worry about - they're still there.
After landing in Chicago, my sister and I got out of our seats to stand in line in the aisle and slowly exit the plane Kindergarten-style (that means single-file). Some people were taking the more patient route, staying seated until the more eager of us walked past. This was the case for the row I was standing next to: three loud, obnoxious, middle-aged women who looked like they had gone through years of Sex and the City indoctrinaztion. I was unintentionally hovering over their folded bodies, thinking to myself, This is what it feels like to be Andre the Giant, before correcting myself: No, this is just how I would normally feel if I hadn't started drinking coffee in fifth grade. Andre's parents and my own obviously had contrasting ideas of parenting.
Andre's parents: Grow, Andre, grow, GROW!
My parents: Shit! You're nearing the 5 foot mark, Natasha! Quick, drink this coffee! It will stump your growth! Stump, Natasha, stump, STUMP!
(This will all become relevant very soon, I assure you.)
I turn around to say something to my sister standing behind me, when suddenly, the woman seated next to me is unexpectedly amused. What she found funny doesn't matter. What matters is that she abruptly threw her head back in laughter, right in my direction. If this had happened a second before, when I had been facing straight ahead, all this would have done is toss a stray strand of her hair toward my hip. However, this happened when I had turned inward to look over my shoulder at my sister, leaving the woman's uncontrollable cranium nowhere to go besides straight into my crotch. I'm trying to be tasteful for those of you with empathetic imaginations. For the rest of you, let me put it this way: SKULL TO VAGINA CONTACT. Like hand-to-hand combat, but instead of hands, you have bones and genitalia.
"Oh! Sorry!" the woman giggled, without even turning my way. This is when I knew she was aware of exactly where her noggin had landed, for she knew that if she did turn my way to face me and apologize, she'd be saying sorry directly to my groin (which really deserves the apology, anyway, if you think about it.) (But please - don't think about it. Think about your own privates. They can get lonely down there.)
After my vaginal collision, a safety hazard the flight attendant does not prepare you for, I was more than relieved to be off the plane awaiting my luggage. My sister and I were a subway and a train ride away from our hotel, where we would be staying with our dad and grandparents for the remainder of the trip.
I left my sister at the baggage claim while I went to use the restroom. Once I returned, I saw that our Sex and the City wannabes had returned and were chatting wildly right next to my sister, occasionally bumping into her with their purses and brushing her with their hands, which they were throwing into the air like Italians with every sound they squealed.
"Them again?" I asked her as one of them stepped on my foot.
"I keep scooting away," my sister said under her breath, "but they keep moving closer and closer. No concept of personal space."
This is when I pretended to see something shocking to the far right of me and turned as forcefully as I could in that direction. Usually, I'm annoyed that I have no control over who my fat backpack accidentally hits whenever I turn to the side. But this time, I had complete control, and I knew exactly who it would smack out of the way.
"Well! Excuse ME!" the Sarah Jessica Parker knock-off huffed. I ignored her and pretended to be devilishly grinning at the conveyor belt.
"That's not funny, Natasha," my sister said.
"I didn't do it for your amusement," I answered. "I did it for REVENGE!"
"It's not funny."
"Fine. I didn't do it for revenge. MY VAGINA DID IT FOR REVENGE!"
"How is the wrath of my vagina not funny?"
"You never know who you're dealing with. You need to be more cautious."
"I seriously doubt The Golden Girls are gonna plan a drive-by."
"Let's just find the subway."
As we waited underground to board the next train, my sister and I sat on a bench and I lit a cigarette. As if the flame was his cue, an old, legless, black man in a wheelchair came out of nowhere and started rolling toward us. He was looking directly at me as he came closer. I figured he was coming over to ask for a cigarette, but I didn't want to be rude and stand up to walk away, so I just sat there, figuring he would stop at some point. He didn't stop. He came closer, and closer, and closer, and closer, until the nubs of his legs were less than a centimeter from my knees. He was SO close that when he opened his mouth to speak, I was able to make the educated guess that he had had a burger and beer for dinner approximately seven minutes ago.
"You too pretty to be smokin!" he said, showing a wide, toothless grin.
(This was not what I had expected him to say, so I was a bit caught off guard.)
"I...yeah...I know...I mean, thank you?"
"You gonna get UGLY!"
"You sho' is! You gonna get ugly!"
"I'll quit one day..."
"Ha! That's exactly what I said about the 7/11!"
"The gas station?"
"Have a blessed day!"
And then he reversed his wheelchair and wheeled away.
"Well. That was weird," my sister said.
"Yeah, what did the 7/11 have to do with anything?"
"I have no idea."
"And did you see how close he was?!"
"Yeah. He smelled."
"We're in Chicago for two minutes and we've already had a weird encounter."
"You're the one with the weird encounter. This kind of shit only happens when I'm with you."
"Well GOOD. I need witnesses more often. Like everyday."
"I think you're just approachable."
"Approachable? What about me screams, 'Hey! I'm okay with you coming over and telling me I'm gonna be ugly one day!' "
"Look! Our train is coming!"
After boarding the subway, my sister and I find ourselves alone in a car that seats about twenty. The first thing I notice is a High School Open House sign with marketing tactics that make it sound less like a place to get a diploma and more like a place to get gonorrhea: "Sneak peek! Personal tour! Fun night!" Wink wink.
The second thing I notice is how secluded we are. Besides us, there is only one other passenger: a large, black woman in a security guard uniform sitting in a small, two-seater chair in the corner. A few seconds later, an old man with a guant figure and a bicycle steps on and perches his bike against a seat. Out of all the vacant seats, he walks right over to the secuirty guard in her little nook and sits down, so close that his left leg is resting on the top of her right thigh.
"Here, I'll move," she says, immediately jumping up from underneath the man.
"No, we can both fit!" he says.
The woman looks at him, looks over at the other seventeen empty seats, looks back at him, and says, "No."
"Yeah, you can sit here next to me!" the man presses.
"YOU STUPID!" the woman screams. She storms out of the car entirely and begins walking down to the opposite end, all while continuing to shout, "YOU STUPID! YOU STUPID!" until she is out of ear shot.
"YEAH, I'M STUPID!" the man yells, despite the fact that the woman is long gone and completely out of sight. "STUPID-SMART!" he continues. "I'M STUPID-SMART! I RIDE A BICYCLE WHILE ALL OF YOU SIT IN THE DAMN FREEZING COLD! I'M THE SMART ONE! I'M THE SMART ONE! STUPID-SMART!"
I wanted to tell him that "stupid-smart" is an oxymoron, but considering his temper and the breadth of his vocabulary, I thought it best to not say anything with the word "moron" in it. My sister and I awkwardly sit in silence next to The Swearing Cyclist, hoping that if we did not make a sound, he would ignore us and continue to direct his anger toward his shoelaces.
Our strategy worked for as long as it needed to, for a few stops later, the car had grown much more full, leaving The Ranting Rider a larger pool of laps to sit on. He eventually left his seat, which was quickly taken by a young man on a cell phone.
"We gonna have a romantic night tonight, baby," he said into the phone as I accidentally listened to every word he said. "You know what I got for you? Beer and ramen noodles. That's right, beer and ramen noodles! It's gonna be a special night, baby, a special night!"
And all this time, I thought beer and ramen noodles was an "every night" thing. Turns out, I've been fine-dining every evening for the past four years!
"Did you hear me?"
"Uh no, I was thinking about beer and ramen noodles."
"Weird, I had that for dinner the other night. But hey, this is our stop."
And finally, we were in downtown Chicago - where our trip was merely beginning.
A brief word from our sponsors: Natasha's vagina will be accepting donations until it has fully recovered. That includes cash, credit, and money orders. No semen please. This isn't that kind of donation. All participants will receive a "Keep Your Head Away from Me" vagina-shaped keychain. Thank you.