Wednesday, October 8, 2014

mother mary comes to me

I was on my usual train on my way home after work. Seated in a far corner, I was deeply fixated in the late chapters of James Whale: A New World of Gods and Monsters, the biography that has been passing the time of my daily commute for the past several weeks. I was alone in my double seat for most of the ride. That changed when the train pulled in and hissed to a halt at the Temple University station.

A backpack-carrying contingency of students boarded and began scouting out the few remaining available seats. In my peripheral vision, though my nose was still buried in my book, I saw someone slide into the seat beside me. He dropped a bulky duffel bag on the floor between his ankles and prodded his pockets for a cellphone — elbowing me several times in the process. I tried to remain focused on my book, but his quirky, spastic gestures I saw out of the corner of my eye made that task difficult.

In the most nonchalant manner, I glanced fully at what this guy was doing. He was staring intently at the glowing screen on his cellphone. Its glass screen displayed a predominately sanguine portrait of the Virgin Mary, her expressionless face ethereally back-lit thanks to the good folks at Apple. My seatmate raised the phone in his left hand and, with his right, crossed himself. Then he pursed his lips, kissed his fingers like a stereotypical Italian chef expressing satisfaction over a particularly fine lasagna, and smeared his now-moistened fingers across the phone, leaving streaks of spittle on the Blessed Mother's kisser. This ritual was repeated. And repeated again. Then, after fiddling with his phone, he changed the image to one resembling the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the spiritual leader whom The Beatles regarded as "adviser" during their LSD-fueled halcyon days. I'm not sure where he fits in with Jesus' mom, but it didn't seem to matter to the gentleman to my right. He exercised the same routine, right down to the finger kissing and the saliva smearing.

I have always been freaked out when I see people reading the Bible on the train. Although I am not at all religious, I feel that religious observance should be reserved for private times, either alone or in a congregation of like-minded people. I don't think it belongs in a place where you are surrounded by a majority of people who are on their way to a place to which they dread going. Also, people reading the Bible on train make me think that they have insider information about some horrible impending doom and are now making their peace with themselves and their maker. I don't wanna be a witness to or a part of their rapture. But I digress.....

So, this guy is genuflecting in the seat next to me and my stop is next. I start to gather myself — putting my book into my messenger bag, stowing my train pass in my business card case — and I politely excuse myself. He stands up to let me out. As I squeeze past him, I get an involuntary, yet appalling, whiff. This guy stinks!

I guess he should be praying harder. The Lord works in mysterious ways indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe it's from all the exercise he's getting with the genuflecting?