Cover Your Mouth, por el amor de dios!
Heading northeast on the green line, I’m holding my breath and frantically fanning my face with a magazine in hopes of dispersing any strands of the newest influenza supposedly floating from the gaping throats of my neighbors. My legs stick to the orangey-brown plastic of my seat as I lean forward, searching for fresh pockets of air to sip from.
It isn’t children doing the careless hacking this afternoon. No. Once again, I find it’s the adults who are out of control. It is they who are lunging from their seats, hands clamped tight around their thighs, mouths exploding open, admitting a phlegmy roar I thought was locked safely behind the screens of horror films.
Take for example the monster seated to my right. Disguised as a fairly handsome, older gentleman he pulls off casual-cool in green khaki shorts and a wavering concentration in his ‘news’ paper. His left leg is thrown over the right, leaving the latter’s black loafer (minus the sock) to hang from the toe. What lies beneath his breast has begun to unearth itself, leaving a few warning signs and me to desperately look for someone to get up so I can move. He glances at me. I smile. He clears his throat and I brace myself, sliding slowly to the left, afraid to taunt him any further. I bite my lower lip and he pushes both of his out. And in this moment of my absolute dread, with no means of escape, he scrunches up his nose, clenches his throat, sucks up a massive, rubbery wad and rolls it around in his mouth while, as I imagine and hope, he decides what to do with it.
I can’t move.
Tears come to my eyes and just as the train comes into a station I had no plans of getting off at, a plump woman sitting across from me displays her own set of respiratory ailings, forcing me to jump up and before exiting berate everyone aboard.
“Hay Gripe! Hay GRIPE!” I yell, with an unexpected Italian accent and a waving of my hands to match.