June 28, 2011
It's hard to say for sure, but I'm fairly confident I could have been engaged to be married tonight, had I answered differently.
It all started this afternoon as the Doraville train pulled up to the platform at Five Points. There's always a frantic rush for open doors and empty seats that commands your attention and mad ninja skills. At a minimum, this usually involves elbow-jabbing, body bashing, a clandestine foot trip - to be completely unaware is to risk an incident similar to the Pamplona bull run. I had an eye on my door before the train even rolled to a stop, had already assumed the ready/set/lunge position, accompanied by the surge of adrenaline that precedes the possibility of an air-conditioned seat on the ride home. So it took me a moment to realize that someone had stepped aside to let me enter first. I muttered a don't-look-anyone-in-the-eye thank you before running in.
The gentleman's name was Merdado, as he told me several stops later, having taken the seat next to me. He presented himself in an understated manner, commenting on the computer I had in my hands, which was in fact a Kindle, which I put aside to be friendly. His English was much better than my Spanish and I learned that he was from Chiapas, Mexico. I have a gorgeous book called Every Woman is a World, (Interviews with Women of Chiapas), written by Jeff's sister, Gayle. So I knew a little bit about the history of Chiapas, which was at least something to talk about for five more stops - but I couldn't stop thinking about his name, which in my approximation translated to "Murder." Further, he allowed that he'd been in Atlanta for four years and worked at a mental hospital downtown (I'm assuming he was referring to Grady).
I studied him now in a different light - that is to say the light of mental hospital employee or mental hospital patient named Murder. Are you married? he asked. Yes, I lied, with a straight face. Are you? No, he sighed, but I am looking. And he looked away from me, then, for the first time since he'd commented on my little book computer. He had nothing more to say, spending the next four stops considering his wasted chivalry at Five Points.
When I got home I Google-translated Merdado, expecting to find murder. Google did indeed detect the name to be of Spanish origin, but the translation to English was interesting - the word was "merda." So I translated "merda," which Google detected to be of Italian origin. Then I spent the next hour laughing at it's English equivalent.
Suffice it to say, the proposals I've accepted in the past, none of which have originated on mass transit, have all ended with a general sense of merda. How refreshing it might have been, I smile, to have begun one with the transparency of knowing merda was present at the very onset.