Strangers on a Train

I will admit that I have personal space issues, particularly with strangers. I would never keep my sanity in a place that allowed for a person to be one centimeter away from me in line, so close that I could feel her breath on my neck. I don't like to be packed in an elevator or too close to someone on an escalator or having my forearms touching with another passenger on an airplane armrest. I'm funny that way, even with people who I love dearly--I need a little breathing room. Like in Dirty Dancing when Jennifer Grey's character says, "This is my dance space. this is your dance space..." I need a lot of dance space, even if I like you.

So then when a tweaky-seeming guy asked me to move my bag on the Trenton regional rail yesterday, I sighed and didn't say anything, but moved it and reorganized myself so we could have some space between us. Then he did that thing some guys do, where he sat with his legs widely apart, as if suffering from elephantiasis of the balls. Unless you have a physical deformity or known groin ailment, who really needs three feet of space between his legs to sit comfortably? I squished up to the window and his bare leg was still touching mine, so I said, "Do our legs really need to be touching right now?" As I spoke to him, he jumped up and moved away.  I can't say if he was planning on moving and I spoke at just the right time, or if he changed seats because I said something.

And then I spent the rest of the ride wondering if he would come back and put a knife in my side. But mostly, I was trying to figure out if it was intentional leg touch or an accidental one because you hear all the time about guys exposing themselves in church or grabbing some woman's ass on the platform or whatever lewd and unexpected act they can come up with. Nothing too upsetting has ever happened to me personally, but ask five random women if they've ever seen a guy's penis when they shouldn't have (public library, park bench, parked car, funeral) and at least one of them will say yes. Yes, we have. And we don't like it. And we are scared of you for this reason. And we would rather that you squeeze up next to someone of your own gender.

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