Travel, even local, should dislocate the grumbling punk of routine, that rumbling sadness of rise and shine.
North on the underground Red now, and one-hundred-and-thirty beats-per-minute of electronic capoeira is coming from Mr. Ear Budz seated next to me. I feel like grabbing my glow stick and dancing, but the train up ahead has stopped. Our way is blocked.
For thirty minutes we have waited in the tunnel before Grand. For the first twenty-five there was restlessness and conversation. Then, at about minute twenty-six or seven, it was as if we had all toasted at minute one and gobbled some peyote which was just beginning to kick in.
Forty or fifty people sit in a sudden, suffocating silence, as if we all realized our thoughts could be heard by others, so we stopped talking to be sure. It is more silent than a mime’s funeral for a car full of formerly farting, coughing and impatient humans. The tunnel outside is impenetrable. Even people who know each other are not speaking to each other, almost as if the car is floating in somnambulant darkness or five miles under the surface of the sea.
The metal of the car itself begins to pray the following train knows we’re here …
If everyone is like me they are using this hypnotic moment of uncavernous quietude to remember the lyrics to Summer Breeze. My lips begin to move, but I say nothing. It is the silence of a crowded commercial airliner cabin committed to the critical moment of takeoff. Even Mr. Ear Budz has unplugged.
Unflinchingly I think of Mr. Castorini from Moonstruck. Just when I am about to holler “Somebody tell a joke!” a CTA worker does a Matt Forte through the car. The metal of the car itself begins to pray the following train knows we’re here, lest we be crumpled foil buried under the city made famous by the kick of a cow and conflagration.
Then acceleration, and we are out of the tunnel. Daylight, and what sounds like hardwood wind chimes are hitting the end of the car’s roof behind me, perhaps a clown’s nunchuks or something really exotic.