Saturday, August 09, 2008

Oral hygiene on the T

It took almost exactly a year but I have finally seen it. The ubiquitous nail clipping was unnerving enough. The nose hair-pulling, the scab trimming, the cuticle exfoliation...etc. The public meals...Who wants to eat on the T and stink up the car with lo mein for everyone's delight? On Thursday, I witnessed what I have been joking about for a year and it was just as bad as I imagined...

A man got on the Red Line at Charles/MGH. He wasn't an attractive man by any stretch of the imagination so I imagine he had nothing to lose, one of life's also-rans. He sat down next to two pretty, young girls and across from my companion and I. Once he settled himself, he pulled out a container of floss and unfurled a nice length to wrap around his index fingers. Yes, he proceeded to floss his teeth.

He extracted a sizable chunk of something and looked across the aisle. He must have noticed my horrified facial expression. I don't know what my companion's reaction was at that moment, but judging from the conversation afterward, it must have been similiar. The perpetrator stopped. The girls moved away as far as thier seats would allow.

The girls talked loudly amongst themselves, loud enough to be incompletely understood over the clack of the train's wheels over the tracks. One said, "He should take a bow." My companion said to me, "The worst part was when he sucked it back in his mouth with his tongue." I replied, "I suppose that would be better than flicking it off the string into the aisle. Maybe he thought he was being polite."

The man disembarked at South Station after hiding behind a newspaper most of the rest of the trip. He was the topic of disbelieving, revolted conversation at least until JFK/UMASS. That is where my companion and I got off. The girls were headed to Ashmont and the skeeve effect still hadn't worn off by the time we parted company.

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