Bubbles on the Subway

During the morning subway ride, people are mostly quiet and sleepy. It's different after 5 PM, when everyone is on their way home and chatty-ish. I like it that way; I'm not really up for anything that requires much energy or attention before 10 AM. But today, this woman got on and she was very friendly, talking to both the men she wedged between--I couldn't tell if she was friends with either of them or not. She wasn't crazy-crazy--I mean, she didn't have that unhinged look or vibe; she had her briefcase and her lunch, etc. But she was noticeably upbeat and talkative. And then, she pulled out a bottle of bubbles and blew a bunch of them into the aisle while singing a snippet of a Disney song, "Dreams really can come true!" The girl next to me was smiling at the woman, I started at the ceiling, unsure of why this was making me feel uncomfortable--maybe b/c I was embarrassed for the lady or because it seemed just slightly too much. Then I got on the trolley and sat across from a teenager who was blaring his music. I tried first to be Zen about it and say, Oh, yes, this is a song I haven't heard. I will just experience it and enjoy it and appreciate the fact that I have ears and can hear it. But I could feel myself getting irritated and having a fake conversation with him where I said something like, "I don't want to be forced to listen to your shitty music. Not any more than you would want to have to listen to my Liz Phair collection against your will." And so, at the next stop when a bunch of people vacated the car, I moved up toward the front. I could still hear the music, but it was less distracting. Part of me wanted to apologize in a way, like, "I am so sorry. I know it looks like I'm moving b/c I hate your music, and it's true. Please don't think I'm being prejudiced." When I got off the trolley, the kid was looking at me and I was trying to understand why he would want everyone to hear his music--I thought, Maybe he's lonely and he's trying to impress girls with his taste in music. Maybe music is the only thing he really enjoys. Maybe he's partially deaf and he doesn't realize that it's so loud. I fantasized about handing him my ear phones. How passive-aggressive is that?

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