Riding the train to work has benefits. Sure, you’re crammed next to people who may not have the most impeccable hygiene, and sometimes when the train takes a curve particularly fast, you feel certain that it’s going to jump the tracks and crash to the street below.
On the other hand, sometimes you spot someone like this dude in the orange t-shirt. Sleeves and collar raggedly cut off to allow roomier openings for his ripe gym-pumped arms and his tree-trunk of a neck. The fraying strap of his well-used gym bag clutched in one mighty fist, while the other arm grips a metal pole for balance, casually showing off the definition of his biceps and triceps. White Sox cap pulled down over his forehead.
He got on at the stop after me and, with any luck, he’ll be riding all the way to the Loop, which would mean I can casually ogle him for another ten minutes and there’s nothing he can do about it. I’m trying to be inconspicuous, which isn’t hard. Nobody’s eyes are going to be fixated on a meek little guy like me, least of all this dude who is pretty obviously flirting with that attractive young blonde further down the car.
Meanwhile, here I am, crammed into my seat, sweating in my gabardine suit, squeezed against the wall by an obese gentleman eating an onion bagel who had boarded the train at the same stop as Studly McMuffin over there. Why couldn’t the dude have sat down next to me instead? As if I’d even know what to say to someone like him. “Did you see Ban Ki-moon on Charlie Rose?” “Have you seen the new Wes Anderson film?” Yeah, right. My arsenal would be depleted after “How much do you bench?”
Nah, Mr. Orange Shirt wouldn’t have sat down anyway. He’s young and fit. He probably considers maintaining his balance on a moving train part of his daily workout. Something to work his core or whatever it is they work. No, he leaves the seats for the old people. You know, like that miserable guy with the receding hairline in the gabardine suit, stuck next to the fat guy with the stinky bagel. The dude probably couldn’t imagine being as damn old as me. After all, I’m a practically ancient 33.
I wonder what the dude does all day. Spends a lot of it working out, clearly, but does he have an actual job-type job? It must be something physical. Maybe he’s a bouncer. Or a stripper. Yeah, I liked imagining that. One of those guys who shows up at a bachelorette party, claiming he’s the cable guy or what-have-you before he starts disrobing one piece at a time and the women go berserk. Maybe sometimes he gets hired to strip for guys too, and even though he’s not gay, he’s cool with it. With all the work he’s done to get that body into prime condition, he’s delighted to display it for anyone who’s interested.
I really ought to be focusing on the presentation I have to give at work today instead of daydreaming about some musclehead. I stayed up until three in the morning, working on the PowerPoint slides. No wonder I’m feeling so punchy this morning. The dude is one lucky bastard. I can’t imagine he’s ever had to do a marketing presentation to a room full of stodgy a-holes, and he probably never would.
Hey, dude, wanna switch places? You can give my presentation and I’ll go fuck around? It won’t be very fun for you, but I do make a nice salary. Maybe if you work hard enough, you can afford to buy a shirt with sleeves someday! Ha.
Oh my god, the dude just turned to look at me. All of a sudden, he’s staring right into my eyes and I can’t make myself turn away. He seems scared, and I’m feeling pretty strange myself. Like queasy, but all over, not just in my stomach. It’s like every part of me from my brain to my bones feels like it wants to be ejected from my body. I feel a sharp jerk.
Whoa! What the fuck? Thought we were goin’ off the tracks for a second there. Better hold this pole tighter before I fall on my ass.
No one else is freakin’ though, except that dorky guy by the window. He’s panickin’ big time. Prob’ly from bein’ trapped next to that fat dude. Show some self-respect, tubby. Get on a treadmill for once in your life, goddammit.
Jeez, my brain is foggy this morning. What the hell did I do last night? Feels like I was up late. I can’t remember shit, so I guess it musta been fun!
Damn, I’m havin’ trouble remembering anything. Where am I even goin’? I got my workout clothes on and my gym bag. Ah, shit’s fallin’ into place now. I’m headin’ to the gym. No clients ‘til eleven, so I got a couple hours to work on myself before my first training session. Thank god for people who are too lazy to do a goddamn sit-up without someone like me yellin’ at ‘em.
That chick down the way is starin’ at me. Oh, yeah, you want me, don’tcha, girl? Prob’ly lookin’ for a boyfriend? Aww, baby, sorry to disappoint you, but I already got me a boyfriend. Might as well keep flirtin’ with her, though. Maybe I can convince her she needs a personal trainer. Horny chicks love havin’ a stud like me make ‘em sweat.
Whoops, nearly missed my stop. Good to be out of there and into the kinda clean air. Aw, the chick didn’t get off. Oh well. Maybe I’ll catch her on the train tomorrow. Make my sales pitch. I think I’m a damn good salesman.
The train’s pullin’ away and that nerdy dude in the suit keeps starin’ at me out the window. Wonder what his deal is.
I love walkin’ into the gym in the morning. The smells of sweat and chlorine, the clangin’ of the weights. Feels like home. Practically is home, since I spend more time here than I do there.
Catch my reflection in the mirror and it’s like seein’ myself for the first time. Dude, you are fuckin’ ripped. My guns are lookin’ great these days. My hard work’s payin’ off.
Dunno why, but I can’t get that sad businessman from the train out of my head. Probably off to some boring office. Poor dude. Glad I ain’t him.