The other morning on my way to work, I witnessed an interaction that forced me to have a horrifying moment of honest introspection about myself. Picture the scene: I’d managed to snag a seat tucked into the corner on a packed, local subway. As straphangers flooded the train at 96th street, a middle-aged woman staggered onto the car and rushed over to stand right in front of me. She kind of reminded me of Gilda Radner in the face, was wearing what can only be described as zany purple tights, and she had, like, 15 clips of life-sized butterflies distributed throughout her scraggly salt and pepper hair.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good butterfly myself, but butterfly clips in the hair past a certain age give off a real whacko, ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane’ vibe, so I was paying close attention to Madame Butterfly when a very WASPy woman in her forties got on the train with a hot cup of coffee in her hand and stood right next to her. The minute she stopped moving, M.B. immediately recoiled in disgust, threw her hands up in the air theatrically and loudly shouted, “Well, DON’T do THAT!” as she hurried to another spot near the door.
The woman with the coffee looked mildly perplexed and a bit insulted until M.B. gestured to her from her new station across the aisle and said, “You have a hot cup of COFFEE in your hand, and I KNEW you were going to spill it all over me!” Obviously, I was loving this exchange; it was super weird for M.B. to scold a stranger for bringing coffee on the train, but it was extremely enjoyable to watch the one who was being scolded as she silently stewed about it.
Then, in a very That’s So Raven moment, I had a premonition of my future, a future in which I, too, become so neurotic that it seems reasonable to accost strangers on the train about their own life choices because I need to assuage my own irrational anxieties. I never want to be that woman, but I can imagine a Sliding Doors version of my life in which I become her. So promise me this: if I ever try to leave the house with an abundance of insect hair clips in my hair and a Metrocard in my hand, please sit me down and make me re-read this blog post.