Cutie on the Red Line

She had blue eyes and a cute dress that was tight in all the right places. I was on the train home from the gym. It was midday, and though the train was only half full, she chose to stand next to me. We exchanged smiles as the door closed and both shyly looked away.

I took out my cell phone and pretended to send a text to my good friend Rahiem, but really, I was looking over screen and admiring her style. Hipster-esque like a pixie wearing a ballerina’s tutu, strange, and yet somehow she made it work in all the right ways. She looked like the kind of girl who’d enjoy not only the Tings Tings, but a good Ting Ting’s cover. For whatever that was worth. As I attempted to observe incognito, she looked up and our eyes met for a second time.

She smiled and I laughed, because not only had we caught each other, but because we were both so embarrassed by it. We crossed the river from the Rose Quarter into Old Town, and I thought about what my friend was saying, that one time he was stoned and rambling about finding true love when you least expect it. I glanced over at her again, but this time she was typing furiously into her little black cellie cell cell.

I thought about my friends, the ones who just got engaged a couple months back, and how cute they are together. Disgustingly sugary sweet at times, the sort of relationship we all make fun of, but secretly, all of us single kids are just a little bit jealous. Viciously suspicious that they’ve figured something out before the rest of us. They’d found theirs while we were still searching for ours. Romantic walks to the top of the mountain at sunset; funny how a cute hipster girl on the train can bring me these thoughts.

Old Town was my stop, but I didn’t get off. I wasn’t quite ready to be done with this non-verbal interaction. What is it that causes a cute girl to stand next to a sweaty boy fresh from the gym on a half empty train in East Portland? Does she know what sort of ridiculous effect that this can have on an impressionable young man? There’s the elation, the positive feelings of self-worth, because she chose me, sort of. I was at least slightly more attractive than the hobos in the back, slightly more interesting than the housewives in the middle. Slightly more mature than the high school kids clowning towards the front, and slightly more tolerable than the toddlers running around a couple seats over.

And she, well she was beautiful. She had that permanent smile that some girls seem to have. Eyes shinning like she knew something the rest of us have yet to discover. Younger, but not by much. Artistic for sure. Pixie crossed with Japanese cartoon with a dash of spice.

And then we were at Skidmore Fountain, I looked at her again, hoping that maybe she’d get off with me, or say hello, or something. Instead, she stared out the window at the gutter punks hanging at the fountain. I paused a moment more, but it was time to go. I got off the train and headed towards my building and thought maybe I could take one last chance.

As the train passed, I turned to smile and wave one more time, but she was still looking the other direction.


3 responses to “Cutie on the Red Line

  1. Odds are she was searching for the right, clever thing to say too.

  2. You should have said something! One of my favourite memories is of spending a couple of hours with a guy at the airport between layovers. All because we shared a look and he had the guts I didn’t have to come over.

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