Whenever I’m deep in the stinking hot bowels of a big city, I find it necessary to focus my mind on something other than the mass of humanity populating the sidewalks that I’m trying to navigate. I do this to take the edge off of having to negotiate crowds of strangers, as this is probably the least enjoyable act of negotiation in which I ever have to engage. The method that I use for this preoccupation is simple and effective and I pass it on to you, dear reader, that you might be able to set your mind free when in a crowded place, even though your body remains trapped behind some sweaty dude waddling along eating a popsicle.
Look around you and find someone doing something reprehensible. Not like kicking a puppy into traffic (although that does count), but something that just screams ‘Douchebag!’ or ‘Skanky ho!’. Depending on the size of the city and the time of day, this will probably be a pretty easy task (D.C. and London are practically Mecca where this is concerned). This morning, my subject was expressing his douche-y side by walking perpendicular to the flow of heavy sidewalk traffic while yelling expletive-laden gibberish into his cell phone. Yes, exactly. Good times.
Now here’s my method and this morning’s utilization: I pictured this guy sitting in a smallish crowd watching a puppet show. One of the puppets starts randomly making fun of him. How this came about isn’t really important, although I pictured the puppeteer peeking from beneath his little hideaway, seeing the guy with his douche-y smirk, and whispering to himself perhaps in a broken Italian accent, ‘Ahhhh, douche-a-bag’. So, the puppet begins to verbally assault the guy, pointing out his lack of soldierly bearing, aversion to the opposite sex (and vice versa), appalling lack of backbone, and propensity for the smoking of pole. The man begins to sweat. His breathing becomes shallow and panicked. He turns various shades of crimson. A small wet spot forms on the crotch of his wrinkled khakis. A child nearby giggles.
Suddenly, he jumps up, rushes through the crowd, and lunges for the puppet. He rips the little felt kitten (trust me, picturing a kitten verbally browbeating this guy was cathartic gold) from the puppeteer’s hand, throws it to the ground, and begins to jump up and down on it while simultaneously screaming and weeping. He stops, but only after realizing that he’s exacting merciless revenge on a sock in front of parents and children and the elderly. His phone rings, he answers it, and I say to him, ‘You’re a moron’, then hang up.
Not only does this keep you occupied for the rest of your journey, it’s like putting your imagination on a treadmill and gradually increasing the speed until it’s running along at a nice clip and getting an excellent and rather enjoyable workout. For that matter, I think creative-writing classes could do worse than take regular field trips to big cities in order to make such imaginative exercises a part of the syllabus. So, there you have it: My gift to you, because I care and I want you to be happy. May all of your future excursions into crowded places be filled with imaginative glee.
Sir @ July 23, 2008