What Not To Do On The El.
Here's a tip: Refrain from inciting madness while on public transportation.
Here's the scene: I am sitting in a window seat on the Brown Line on Wednesday after work. I am staring out the window, repeating my story over and over because it should be memorized and I don't want to fuck it up and THE SHOW IS FRIDAY. There are "beats" and gestural maneuvers that go with this story and my director suggested I practice the memorizing with the "beats" so it all works together and my director is brilliant so I do what she says, which means I'm sitting in the window seat of the Brown Line stabbing my finger in the air and making faces because in my story there is a fight. (I lose the fight.) (BUT I WIN THE WAR.)
Then the train stops. Then there is this loud clack, clack, clacking. Unbeknownst to me, somewhere between Quincy and Clark/Lake, a woman sat down next to me. When the clacking starts, she says, "Do you hear that?" I have to pull my brain out of the story-in-my-head world and into the real world, which is much like waking up with a really bad hangover, and I listen. "Yes," I say to the woman. "It sounds like a really huge person clacking their tongue."
While I consider the incongruous use of "person" and "their," I take a look at her. She has short brown hair and panicked-looking brown eyes. There are deep creases on either side of her mouth and they look more like a result of worry than excessive smiling. She's cracking her knuckles. In retrospect, I do wish I had taken the time to consider these details.
"What do you think it is?" She asks. "They haven't made an announcement." I listen for an announcement. She's right. There's no announcement. "Aliens," I say. "When they get hungry, they cluck their tongues while they decide which human they're gonna eat. I bet this train looks like a buffet to them."
This is the part where I went wrong. The woman let out a piercing scream. Not an oh-my scream. Not an oh-shit scream. A full-on, horror flick, scream-like-your-life-depends-on-it scream. And then she stopped and stared at me. Her breath smelled like Altoids. Everyone in the train car stared at us.
I said, "I'm sorry. I was kidding. I think it's rush hour and we're just backed up." The woman squinted at me. "You're not funny," she said. The train hiccupped, then jerked forward. We rolled into the Mart. People got off the train. People got on. The woman shifted and looked ahead. "You're not funny," she said again, this time under her breath.
We rode like that all the way north. She got off at Montrose. Do you think I should've gone with zombies instead of aliens?