#254: Imaginary Stories

December 11th, 2013

Manic Pixie Dream Girl and The Irishman had a tragic love affair, which is why they wait for the train at different sections of the platform.

It hurts too much to see her after her dalliance with Mr. Rogers Ticket-taker, so The Irishman stays at the north end with his tan pea coat, cabbie cap and magnificent rusty sideburns.

MPDG stays at the south end with her short and adorably messy hair, her roadster bike with the old-style honking horn and the books she reads in French.

Or so I like to imagine.

MPDG probably is just a nice French lady with an old-timey bike and a guitar she sometimes brings. The Irishman is probably just a red-haired guy with my fashion sense. All they have in common is that they ride the same train to work and feature in the same odd reveries I have while waiting for the day to start.

And they probably weren’t in a love triangle with the friendly ticket taker who smiles like Fred Rogers as he punches your ten-passes and checks to see if you have your monthly.

But that’s not as fun.

Froggy Bikecap stays away from MPDG too. She’s in love with me, Froggy Bikecap is. With her wide, flat-smiled face, she casts longing glances my way with those big, slightly buggy eyes. She knows MPDG is in love with me too (most women are in my odd reveries) and that’s why she keeps her distance.

It has nothing to do with the fact they both bring bikes so want to spread out among cars. It’s me. Me and KU Hat Guy, who is fast becoming the object of Froggy Bikecap’s fancy. He’ll be better for her, take care of her and pull her in to warm embraces where she snuggles against his big sandy beard and watches Jayhawks games because they’re super lame and KU sucks. (M-I-Z!)

The affairs and simmering passions that none of my fellow commuters seem to be aware of — not even the participants — are just part of the hidden world among my fellow riders.

Lady Smokerface faked her own death to get away from her student loans. That’s why she’s always so nervous, looking around as if someone lurking behind will soon jump out with a bill from a Fall 1996 Art History lecture she took pass-fail.

Woman Who Looks Like A Grown Version Of Courtney Zanocco From Third Grade is just there to time the schedules so she can use the Metra as her getaway for a series of suburban bank heists.

And John Producthair is at a crossroads of life, wondering if each day is the one he tells his boss he’s lost his passion for project management.

The reality, I’m sure, is much more interesting than any of these silly thoughts that help me pass the time while waiting for the train. I find reality much more appealing than fantasy, a life’s everyday joys and losses more evocative than bank heists and student loan bill ninjas.

I’ll never know what fantasies these co-commuters have, who else is wondering about the people around, who else is concocting affairs and project management burnouts. I’m a face in this crowd too. I wonder what they think of me.

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You are currently reading #254: Imaginary Stories by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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