Published: March 9th 2011March 9th 2011
Burning some steam in San Jose.
“Oh excuse me, miss, your son is eating a…pad of butter.” At hour 28 into this train ride I raised my head off the dining room table and said, “Who cares. Its free.” She cleared her throat and sat down with her young daughter to join Owen and I for dinner; communal dining on this train. Owen takes his butter laden fingers out of his mouth and grabs his DS. “Look what I’ve got!” he says to the little girl. “Wow! I brung my DS too!” she replies. “You mean, brought
, your DS,” the mother interjects. Oh gee, I think, this is who I get to eat my overpriced train food with?
They scoot into their seats, mother and daughter immaculately dressed with matching Tiffany bracelets. Ah, how sweet. So sweet I could puke. I haven’t bathed in two days, Owen’s at the beginning stages of being done with this train business, my eyes are puffy from lack of sleep and I’m wearing three shirts I dug out of my dirty laundry last night because its so cold on this train.
I look up at the mother so beautiful and tan with her shiny black hair and gaudy jewelry.
All I could say was, “I swear I clean up really well. You should see me with make up.” I don’t think I ever introduced myself. She said, “Oh honey, I’m sure
you do…” Owen in the meantime has taken off his shoes and is bouncing in his seat. The little girl looks at her mother like, “Is this ok?” Mom shakes her head no. The little girl settles politely into her seat. “I promise that I don’t usually let him play his DS at dinner and he usually wears shoes in restaurants…” and I take a glimpse at my son still wearing the pajamas I put him in yesterday because of the incident on the bus and dirt encrusted under his fingernails from feeding the horses two days ago. I can’t talk myself out of the frightful site we are. So I quit trying. That’s when things got interesting. And you know what? Things aren’t usually what they seem. Ok, sometimes they are. But this time they weren’t.
A conversation ensues with this woman and it turns out things really aren’t as they appeared. She’s a real estate agent working evenings at a gym to make ends meet
and this isn’t her daughter but her granddaughter, one of two she and her barber husband are helping raise because of their son’s divorce. This certainly isn’t the diva California mom I thought when we were seated together at dinner. This woman has been through a divorce herself, raised two sons, and now raising two granddaughters. She tells me about raising the granddaughters and how exhausted she is. I say, “I bet you sometimes think, ‘Didn’t I just DO this?’” She looks at me surprised. Surprised that I would know what she was thinking. “Yeah, I think that everyday.” And thus opened up a lovely and lively dinner conversation that ended with both of us laughing our silly heads off.
We all returned to our seats, in the dark by now. The woman approaches me with a piece of paper and asks, "Would it be ok if the kids became kind of like pen pals?" I open the note and see the little girl had written her address on it for Owen. I said, of course, and surely Owen could send something worthy to hang on their fridge. The older gentleman next to me catches wind of what's happening and says, "Oh, I see she roped you into spilling your guts too."
The older gentleman is Jim. And yes, Jim had spilled his guts to me a little earlier that evening. Another stranger on the train, another instance where things aren't quite as they seem, another story to tell.
To be continued...