The first question I wanted to ask him was Are you trying to kill yourself? People have been known to use the Toronto subway system to exit their system. It’s never broadcast in the media, of course, but you know that’s what’s happened when they announce a delay due to an “incident” on the tracks. But the way this guy was going about it was a first.
I almost tapped him on the shoulder and asked him. But then I imagined him screaming in my face for not minding my own business. I could actually picture how the scene would play and, having a bit of the clairvoyant in me, I wisely refrained from asking big blond guy if he was trying to kill himself.
The second question I wanted to ask him, a question that I thought was more diplomatic, more “with it”, more cool and less likely to cause him to go postal on me was Are you stoned? I came really close with that one. After all, I love random encounters on public transport. Once, I leaned in and said, “Yes, you do” to a coupla girls who kept asking each other if they smelled like weed but were too stoned to come up with a definitive answer themselves. This time, however, something told me to back off. In the end, he got off a few stops before me and I got back to the e-reader that had sat un-e-read on my lap for the entire twenty five minute ride.
We’ve all heard or used the expression to “inhale your food” and we’ve probably done it too. My big blond friend, however, took it to another level tonight. In the space it took to travel six subway stops, ten minutes give or take, he inhaled a Double Cheeseburger, a Chicken Burger, a Cheeseburger and a Junior Fish Filet watchamacallit. Surprisingly, no fries. And no pop either. Maybe he’s cutting down.
I tried not to judge him, really I did. I ate a whole chicken once. A delicious Portugese-style roasted chicken with special hot sauce. But hey, it was over the course of several hours, the bird was not genetically modified so it was a normal size and, most important, I was well out of public sight within the four walls of my living room. And not too long ago I dispatched a medium pizza and a dozen wings. But hey, it was before a flight and I always make sure to eat good before a flight because I honestly believe it will be my last meal. We all have our reasons.
My fascination with big blond guy was not with the quantity of his dinner (I assume it was dinner but it could have been a snack for all I know) but with his chosen venue, with the fact that he simply could not wait, that he did it right there, the whole performance, in open view of easily a hundred commuters, sucking his fingers and belching and picking his teeth and what have you.
So, instead of judging Sir Ronald McDonald himself, I sat there trying to understand why. Why would anyone devour four burgers in ten minutes without a hint of embarassment in a subway car at the height of rush hour? Here are my hypotheses:
* he’s hungry, very hungry, as in haven’t-eaten-since-yesterday-morning hungry
* he is stoned out of his mind (but I did not detect any Eau de THC about his person)
* his mom has put him on a special diet and this is his only chance between school and home to eat something he likes
* they don’t feed him at home (but he looked well fed)
* he’s trying to kill himself (but he was otherwise perfectly “normal” seeming, a tad fidgety is all)
* he is going to run an overnight marathon
* the world is ending
* he has a psychological condition
* he is ecstatic about something
* he is furious about something
* the world is ending
* “he” is actually a very butch “she” and is PMSing or pregnant
* “he” is a “he” but he’s undergoing some hormonal treatment
* he has a medical procedure for which it’s required that he eat four burgers the night before (Sign me up!)
If anybody can think of more valid reasons, please share.
The (somewhat) heartbreaking thing was that he appeared to be trying to control himself, to save the rest for later. Here’s how it went: he ate the first and the second burgers back to back. Then he crumpled the bag shut and just held it and did a bit of people/scenery watching. Then he opened the bag. I expected him to nibble on a few fries (who gets Mickeydees w/o fries??) but instead he pulled out Burger #3 and inflicted the punishment on that one, then he closed up the bag again and chilled out some more. Then he opened the bag again and pulled out the fourth course, at which point I could barely control myself because I happened to be starvin’ marvin’ in that moment, having only had a stupidly responsible salad for lunch and an even more pretentious apple for afternoon mekses (snack).
Anyway, he got off at his stop and left as if he’d been doing nothing more unusual than reading the Metro. But the thing about Toronto public transport is, the joys never cease. I was quite happy to have this incident be my comic fix for the day as I transferred onto a bus, but no, a lady gets on holding a good sized doll, one with long flowing brown hair and a pretty dress, over her shoulder like it is a baby and she is about to burp it. For the whole bus ride she clutches it like that, with an eerily happy look on her face, and for the life of me I can’t tell if she’s “funny” happy or actually happy imagining the joy that the doll will bring to some kid in her life. I hoped it was the latter, for both the kid’s sake and hers, but something told me there wasn’t no junior waiting at home.
“Ride the Rocket” indeed. Who needs space travel when you’ve got the TTC? I don’t ever want to own a car.