It’s Not a Misdeed Unless I Smile
you step left I step
left. Repeat. Finally you
feint right to escape
It’s not just that spring has arrived in Boston . . .
It’s that it’s arrived for my favorite tree along the Muddy River Path.
Robins pull worms, Canada Geese graze their fuzzy goslings in the young grass, but my eyes are for this sparsely flowered specimen of spindly grace.
Dear Stranger Whose Business Suit-clad Rear I . . . Bumped:
Remember me? I’m the ‘little black girl’ who ‘smacked your butt’ on the Red Line headed towards Alewife. I swear it was an accident.
We must have been crossing the salt and pepper bridge because I remember the train car being well lit. I recall the echo of train wheels rolling up and over and across, Charles River glinting below. It wasn’t a packed car, but it also wasn’t empty, so probably other passengers witnessed my transgression.
Business Suit Dude: you had leaned over to fuss with the bag at your feet when the train swayed and my arm . . . swayed. There was contact: your tush, my hand. I remember thinking a muzzy uh-oh! when I realized I was too late to resist the motion.
You shot up, squeaking in surprise. Or maybe it was a gasp. (I assure you, the sound you produced
maybe wasn’t was very manly.) However it’s best described, your response contained an implicit ‘oh!’, which, if you were a 80’s-raised black woman like myself, may have been followed with an outraged ‘you didn’t just do that!’ But you were a white dude, probably late 30s, early 40s, and, judging by your shocked expression, this was not an interaction you’d ever envisioned.
You gaped. I shrugged one shoulder and, as an afterthought, added a disarming, half-sorry smile.
My bad. I probably should have been less amused?
In any event, dear Business Suit, you have my 78% sincere apology. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve re-told this story many dozens of times. Don’t worry, you’re always the victim.