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tale from a subway


I got picked up on a subway, far far away from my familiar bar stool. It’s not an everyday occurrence, and ordinarily happens when you’re least expecting it. Vulnerable to it. I was in a city far bigger than Vancouver, one where people actually take public transit without it being stigmatized. Have you noticed the faint twitch some people experience when you suggest they take the bus in our fair city? I swear it’s not really a fate worse than death. People usually come out unscathed. With any luck, you’ll come out with one more friend.

I was leaning against the cool underground tiles, lost in my emails and oblivious to my surroundings. The only alert triggered to jerk me out of my focus being the rumbling crescendo of the approaching subway train. Or so I thought. He passed me swiftly, and without stopping he asked me what my score on Angry Birds was. For a second, I wasn’t even sure that he was talking to me. If it hadn’t been for the lack of other people on the platform, I likely would not have even noticed. I was the only person he could have been speaking to.

As my focus shifted from my tiny screen to the real world, I found myself face to face with the kind of guy your father warns you about. The kind who wears a devilish smile and twinkly eyes as well as a Naval officer wears a uniform. He could have convinced anybody to do anything with those two selling features. Adding a mop of curly dark hair to the mix and he was a danger to all women, who would instantly be putty in his hands. I proceeded with caution. Excited caution. I’ve seen Risky Business. I know what the potential is for subway carriages.

Before we could speak further, the train slid into the station. I knew he would follow me into a carriage, and silently hoped he would sit next to me. He did. The next 20 minutes was a barrage of flirtatious banter. The kind of conversation that is far past small talk and lingers in a zone usually reserved for good friends or lovers. He was visiting from Los Angeles, originally from Toronto, and like me was due to fly home the next day.

We immediately got into the subject of dating, specifically the difference between men and women in LA and Vancouver. It was a conversation I had had several times before, and he merely validated what other men had revealed. He had been on date after date with Playboy bunnies, Penthouse pets and aspiring actresses, saying that they had all seemed like empty shells. Finding a woman with the full package in his town was more difficult than finding a miniature Waldo in Dodger Stadium. This all led me to wonder why he wouldn’t just change his routine and meet girls in different environments. Surely not all women in LA fit into that Barbie stereotype, and clearly this man had the balls to strike up a conversation anywhere with anybody. If only more people took the subway in LA.

My stop was nearing and I didn’t want to end the conversation. In a few short minutes, I had just skimmed the surface of his life story and I wanted to move beyond the Cole’s Notes. As though reading my mind, he got off with me, one stop earlier than his. As we walked to the street, he hastily inserted my number into his phone. He wanted to meet up with me later for a drink. We both had dates we were on our way to and found the humour in a late night post-date date. I felt oddly comfortable around him and let myself divulge details I wouldn’t ordinarily let escape from my lips so early on. It’s the magic of being in a different city that allows me to just be me. The time limit rushes things along.

On the pavement, he remarked on my towering height. It was a flirtatious dig and I struck back with one of my own. As we teased each other about our height difference, a woman who was handing out promotional materials approached, and as if on cue said, “You are one tall woman”, as she handed us a sample of shampoo. My Casanova took this opportunity to develop a story that he knew I would play along with. We were engaged. Getting married that coming weekend at Niagara Falls, yet thinking of calling it off as we couldn’t reach an agreement over whether I could wear high heels during the ceremony, effectively depleting his manhood. She bought it. Our lies got deeper and deeper. Details became more real and I fell into character. The poor woman didn’t know who she was dealing with. We were playing a game with each other. How far could each of us take our stories. It was called foreplay.

We hugged good bye and I felt his hand squeeze my waist hungrily. Despite never meeting up later in the night (my first date ran later than predicted), I knew it wasn’t the last I would see of him. Thank you, Facebook.

My lessons from a subway:

Lessons for the ladies:

1. Don’t let yourself become so lost in your phone that you forget to notice the people around you.

2. Maintain your free-spirited travel mindset when you’re at home.

3. Scheduling two dates in one night is merely efficient time planning. Time is precious.

Lessons for the men:

1. Talk to women everywhere. Meeting girls should not be reserved for bars.

2. Some gentle teasing can be excellent foreplay but don’t let it be misconstrued for insults.

3. If you have curls, let them grow. Women want to run their hands through them.

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