Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

THE ITALIAN SPEAKS
After spending the weekend in the throes of depression, I pulled myself off the futon and enjoyed a great morning with Tim and the family Sunday. I cleaned my apartment and re-watched Friends as I puttered about and did some internet research. I switched days at the center, to accommodate my annual check-up, so I retired early so I could get up at 6 a.m. Monday.
My alarm went off, and I began my ritual of hitting snooze until it won’t let me anymore. It was freezing cold and I wasn’t looking forward to my commute like I usually do. The snow hasn’t completely melted from the last storm, and piles shoveled last week are now hard chunks of black ice, some of which covers the sidewalks. It took me almost twice as long to walk downtown and then the mile to my office for nearly a month after every snowstorm.
I did not want to get out of bed.
But I did for two reasons. 1. I had to stop at 7-11 for cash for the train, which meant coffee as well. 2. The Italian might be on the 7:06 F Line. I slid and briskly walked my way down 17th Avenue, and made it with two minutes to spare for the F Line. The Ice King welcomed me back, (I have been taking the 7:15 H Line because it allows me ten more minutes of sleep.) and I took my seat in the front car.
Usually the cars are not well heated, but today, the heat must have been on full blast. Combined with my aerobic workout, as soon as I sat down I started shedding my layers. Coat, scarf, hat and gloves hit the seat beside me. As we approached the Broadway station I saw the Italian standing on the boarding platform. He got on the train and took the seat directly in front of me. I smiled and said good morning and he smiled and returned the greeting, a little more enthusiastically than he usually does.
I watched him in the reflection of the glass, watching me, and realized that he had never seen me without being bundled up in layers of clothes. I definitely got the vibe he was checking me out hard, and when I looked up at him he didn’t look away. For a few awkward seconds he looked at me and smiled. Okay, I’m pretty sure he’s not gay now, maybe just painfully shy.
We neared my stop and I began re-assembling myself, wrapping my scarf around my neck, donning my hat and coat, generally primping a little more than necessary as I wrapped myself up again. He watched and smiled. I held my gloves down against the heater, trying to warm the inside of them before I put them on for my long walk to work in the freezing cold.
And, as my gloves were warming, the Italian spoke.
And it wasn’t English.
“Eees helf?” Is what I think he said. I smiled and made some stupid comment about how cold it was out, not at all sure if was an appropriate answer or not. But I did get that he’s not Italian, I’m pretty sure he’s middle-Eastern.
He looked at me and smiled nervously, and I rambled on about the stupid weather until the conductor announce my stop. He kept smiling at me as I stood up, and I bid him farewell in the form of “Have a good day.”
I think he maybe said “you too,” or “froo too,” I couldn’t understand him at all. But his big smile said it all.

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February 14, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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