Monday, April 19, 2010

Fear and Loathing In ... The Lounge Car

 Meeting and finding out all about new people is one of my favorite things. Seeing a really cute guy but not having the courage to talk to him is one of my least favorite things. The two of these happened to me on the train ride to Tampa on Thursday afternoon in the Lounge Car. If you're on a train ride and want to meet, share a beer with, or simply stare at, random strangers, you head to the Lounge Car. 
After having woken up from a seriously uncomfortable and short nap in my seat, I realized that the blonde lady that sat next to me was gone. She had been friendly and I knew I could strike up a conversation with her. A baby was crying a few rows ahead of me, and some inconsiderate douche was watching a movie on his laptop at full volume and without headphones. My options for decent behavior at this point were limited. I couldn't tell the crying baby to shut the hell up, but I was about to channel my frustrations with it and with the action-movie-loving-and-headphones-hating-douche entirely on the dude with the laptop. I was wondering how to handle the situation, if at all. The only things dancing around in my brains were really mean, laced with profanities, and completely passive-aggressive. Something along the lines of, "Excuse me, but do you have your headphones with you? Because no one else here wants to listen to your shitty movie, and clearly you and that baby are the two rudest motherfuckers in this car. So either put on some headphones or turn that shit off and read a book!!!" (I really can't stand the sound of a baby crying. I once told a co-worker I'd rather hear someone get shot than listen to a crying infant. The fucked up thing is I really meant it.)
I got up from my seat and headed to the bathroom. Using a bathroom on a train requires great balance and coordination, neither of which would ever be used to describe me. I'm more clumsy than a baby bull in a china shop. I was happy and relieved (literally and mentally) that I didn't come within an inch of that toilet. Yikes. Also, let's talk about the fact that I didn't have to use soap to wash my hands because the water was so damn scalding hot, I'm pretty sure it burned off whatever germs I had hanging out on the surface of my hands.
I made my way to the Lounge Car which was about three cars away. I stumbled my way through the cars trying not to fall on anyone's lap as the train was going so fast it was almost flying off the tracks. When I opened the sliding door to the Lounge, I scanned the room, first, to see if there were any available booths, then, to see who was in there that I would be drawn to in order to extract their whole life story. And that's when I laid eyes on him. He was sitting in the last booth on the right, in the corner, against the window. I thought to myself, "Hello.... that's a hot piece...." We made eye contact and of course I was instantly shy; it's like I crawl into a shell and the only way to lure me out is either with gay guys or tacos. I walked into the small cafe area to buy a Red Bull, and then walked back to the lounge. I picked an empty booth facing him, because even though I didn't have the sober courage to actually speak to him, I did want to just prop my head in my hands and gaze at him constantly, then look away nervously when he would catch me staring. It's really mature of me, I know, I know, you don't have to say it.
I pulled out my Chelsea Handler book, "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang," and read a little bit here and there in between observing the other passengers, lookin' out the window, and getting caught starin' at him. He looked like a younger, more innocent Johnny Depp, not young like 21-Jump-Street-young, but maybe a few years older. More of a Secret-Window-Johnny. He was wearing an unbuttoned plaid shirt over a t-shirt; the sleeves were rolled up and so his tattoos were visible, and you all know how I feel about a cute guy with nice colorful tattoos..... Crap I'm getting carried away. Ok let's continue. He was wearing a fedora and had such a nice smile. Oh wait, let's clarify that he wasn't smiling at me (yet) but because he was smiling at the people he was sitting with and I was facing him I would catch glimpses. 
He was sitting with an older man and two women, and I was trying to figure out what their relationships to him were, in order to see how good my chances were of making my way onto his lap. I thought they might be his family, but then I heard the most magical thing: they asked him how old he was! Then, they asked him what his tattoos meant!!! I suddenly knew that they were perfect strangers and the door was wide open. I would not get shanked with a broken beer bottle for trying to talk to him. 

::sigh:: Even though I knew that he was traveling alone, I still did not have the courage to talk to him, and I was growing more and more frustrated as the time passed. He began smiling at me, which was lovely, but how was I supposed to break the ice when he was surrounded by three drunk people that seemed to really like him, and as a result, not leave his freaking side? As I was thinking of how to pounce, another guy walked into the Lounge Car and asked me if he could sit at my booth. Of course I said yes, while two words flashed in great big neon letters while fireworks fired off behind them, in my brains: COCK BLOCK. I really did appreciate that I finally had someone to talk to, I was just bummed that it was a young man around my age who could potentially turn away any hot, tattooed, fedora-wearing guys that might be interested in talking to me. I mean, shit, I had the entire booth to myself!! I put my book away and started talking to the New Guy. We never exchanged names, just where we were from, where we were headed to, our ages, and a little bit about who we were visiting and why. He had such a strange dialect; when I could understand what he was saying to me, I laughed because he was funny. We joked around about a few of the other passengers in the car, and he laughed at all my jokes. I decided to go buy a beer in the cafe because I had relaxed a little in talking to New Guy, so it was time for some liquid courage in order to talk to the hot, tattooed, fedora-wearing dude. 
Even though I had Blue Moon coursing through my veins, it was still impossible to take the hot dude away from his fan club. The only thing that would have been a guaranteed tactic would have been to stand up, point at him and say, "Let's go for a walk!!" then grab him arm in arm as I lead him away to a more secluded car. Totally romantic and non-creepy, right?? Totes mug-otes!!!
Finally the train slowed down and approached the Tampa station. One of his fans said the saddest thing, "Good luck in Atlanta!" I knew we were parting ways. The other blonde lady, who I recognized as the blonde that sat next to me for like five minutes before taking off for the lounge, said to him, "Call me if you need anything!!" I felt so frustrated with myself!!! I hate being shy, I'm really not that shy anymore, but when there's a hot piece in the mix I resort to a catatonia that can only be cured with beer. 
I knew I better head to my seat, get my PBR duffle bag, and get off the train with the rest of the Tampa crew. I said goodbye to New Guy, but couldn't bring myself to look at the tattooed wonder. 
Once back at my seat, I said to the blonde, "The guy at your table, with the tattoos.... tell me all about him." She went nuts! She said, "Ohhh, that's Matt, isn't he cute??" And I said, "Yes! He's very cute, what do you know about him??" I knew she was drunk because she kept saying how cute he was and if she wasn't engaged she would totally try to hook up with him because he was just too cute! She said, "His name is Matt, and he's a musician, and he's moving to Atlanta, and he's sooo sweet and cute!!" I said, "You have to text him for me, please! Tell him I said 'hi!'" She was quick to whip out her phone and text away, and we both waited for the reply like a couple of game show contestants waiting to see what we had won. He wrote back and we shrieked, and by this time every passenger within earshot knew what we were doing and how cute Matt was. Kim asked Matt if she could give me his number. He replied, "Ha ha, did she ask for it?" Then drunk Kimmie gave him my phone number, saying, "You don't mind, right?" I said, "Oh Hell no! You give him my number!!! Oh my god... how excitiiing!!!" Clearly, Kim and I are cut from the same cloth because every time Matt would text her back we would giggle. (Heaven help us.)
We made our way off the train and Kim stopped outside to smoke a cigarette. I told her I needed to get to the bathroom as soon as possible because my bladder was about to get up and walk out, all the while yelling at me about how irresponsible I was to let her get that full and did I not know how unhealthy that is?!?! My organs can be really passive-aggressive and controlling.
Matt texted me a little while later. We became facebook friends that night. He sent me the link to his music, and I listened to it and liked it so much. It's very reminiscent of Bright Eyes, which I love. I joked with him that it was a really good thing I didn't listen to his music before getting to Tampa because I surely would've missed my stop and stayed on the train with him... yeah... I totally would have. ::sigh::
liquid courage.

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