On the el this morning two women, one sitting directly behind the other, applied makeup as the train barreled towards the loop. The one in front patted powder onto her face with staccato movements while her counterpart held a mirror in one hand, and imprisoned an eyeball with a lash curler in the other. Several people watched them, two women engaged in unintentional synchronized grooming. Morning theatre for the nine to five crowd.
It reminded me of a moment in Boston years ago when every person who walked past me giggled, or made some inexplicable facial expression as they passed. Finally someone stopped me and said “look who’s following you.” I stood in my tracks as a couple, deep in discussion, approached – the woman wearing the exact same floral print dress as me. I was amused and disgusted – only in Boston, I decided, would strangers make a point of letting me know that I was wearing the same dress as the next woman.
The woman with the powder was quite pregnant – at least six months. The eyeball woman, having completed her ablutions, watched as the powdery woman in front of her began applying lipstick.
We got off at the same stop – the powdery woman and I, and in the moment after she stood from her seat, but before everyone exiting the train made a mad crush for the open doors, I saw that the eyeball woman was pregnant too – and at about the same stage in her pregnancy.
Once off the train, everyone headed for the same exit, and began forcing their way up the stairs like spawning wildlife. I stopped at the elevator bank – the door was open, and while I’d have to pay for this shortcut in the form of inhaled piss molecules, it would be worth the price to bypass the teeming masses on the stairs.
I stepped inside and pressed the button for the street level. Just before the door closed, the powdery pregnant woman stepped in, and we shared a short, silent, aromatic journey.