Archive for the ‘Eaters’ Category

Jesus, Wet Blanket

October 18, 2007

The commute home last night was excruciating. The El stopped for fifteen minutes, and when I finally made it to the bus it stopped in the middle of Lakeshore Drive for half an hour. The people next to me were Eaters. One had a meatball sub from Subway, and the other a bag of shit from McDonalds. I was on the verge of saying something to the couple when I saw them communicating through sign language. I realized that at least one of them was deaf, which halted my impulse to try to communicate my horror at how slowly the man was consuming that meatball sub. I really wanted to say something and was pissed that I couldn’t. I then wanted to tell them that deafness was no excuse for disgustingness. Upon scarfing down her McDonald’s, the girl eventually pulled out a psychology textbook, as if to mock my reaction to them.

When the driver finally flagged down an alternate bus for us to board, I found the same seat and sat down comfortably, knowing the Eaters were elsewhere and had completed their meal. Unfortunately, I was joined by two amateur theologians who chose to turn the rest of the bus ride into an impromptu Bible Study.

They were discussing the importance of baptism. The younger of the pair explained to his elder, “Baptism isn’t just about being anointed as one of Christ’s own, the pouring of water over you is mandated. It’s physical.” At this point, I began rooting around my backpack for my ipod so that I could drown these guys out. When I remembered that the battery was dead, I cursed myself for forgetting to recharge it. I tried calling several of my so-called friends and family. To those of you who didn’t pick up in my moment of need or were “on my way to dinner with some friends and can’t talk,” all I can say to you now is fuck you. With no more distractions left to me, I knew there was only one way to end this torture.

“…It’s like going to police academy. You can go and graduate, but unless you get that badge you’re not a policeman. You’ve gone through the whole training, but you need the name of a policeman bestowed on you. That’s what it’s like to have the water poured on you. It’s the visible sign that you’re a follower of Christ, like the badge is the visible sign that you’ve become a policeman.”

As he explained, my mind raced until it found a point where I could interrupt. “Yeah, but eventually you dry off,” I said.

“What?”

“When you’re baptised, right? You do eventually have to dry off.”

“But you still have Christ’s name. You see…”

He went on to explain the whole comparison to me once again.

“Yes,” I interrupted. “I get it. It’s a clever analogy. But it’s a false one. After all, you people are eventually given a blanket or something to dry off, right?”

He nodded, following along. “Well, that means you don’t walk around wet all the time, whereas a cop always has to have his badge in order for me to recognize he’s a policeman.”

“But it’s still the visible sign that you’ve changed.”

“Sure, until you dry off. I guess you could carry around the wet blanket that dried you off, but even that’s going to dry up or get moldy eventually. Sooner or later you Catholics or Christians, or whichever, aren’t going to have a a symbol like the cop’s badge.”

This basically ended the conversation as my thoughtful interlocuter pulled out his Bible from underneath his copy of Sports Illustrated to consult the relevant passages. A girl nearby smiled and mouthed out “thank you.”

As the amateur theologians got up to leave, the younger one turned to me and said, “I guess it’s more like a high school diploma.”

“What?”

“Being baptised. It’s liked getting your high school diploma. You don’t have to carry that around. Is that a better analogy?”

“Yeah, I’d run with that one.”

The Intimacy of Disgust

October 14, 2007

Every day people sit on the bus and eat in front of me. It’s one of the more nauseating things I can see during the course of a day. Someone needs to do an ethnography of people who would eat on the CTA. The people who put their Popeyes or McDonald’s bags on the floor of the bus as they get settled and pull out the part of the meal they want to start on. There was the morning when the woman sitting at a 90 degree angle to me, directly in front of me, ate a whole bag of cheddar popcorn. At 7AM! Her fingers were turning orange. The popcorn kept falling down her shirt and onto the floor. If it landed in a crevice of her clothes, she’d eat it. The bus kept swaying back and forth and as she was inches away and directly in front of me, I had no choice but to look at her. With every mouthful, I came closer and closer to hurling. I was visibly wincing. Just when I thought it was over, she ties up the bag and pulls out a Hershey’s Oreo Cookie bar, made mostly of white chocolate! She took one large bite out of it after another. By the time she stopped, I was choking back the vomit.

Am I food phobic? I think not, though I cannot stand the odor of liver or bananas (I can eat bananas so long as I don’t have to smell them for long), or eggs. Am I germ phobic? Not at all. Perhaps it has to do with proximity. I don’t like strangers next to me, and if they are next to me and eating I need cleanliness to be regulated by serving staff and clean silverware. Yes, silverware is important to me, and by that I don’t mean the silver poles on the bus or the train that people hold on to with their cheddar dusted fingers as they try to keep their balance. I know that some people don’t like to eat in public, which is a class thing. I used to test one of my professors by offering her a mint from my tin of Altoids. It is possible that she was similarly disgusted by the phenomenon of the “unwrapped mint” as I am by someone who puts a bag from McDonald’s on the floor of the bus, but then again, I can’t recall ever having seen her eat in public. Someone needs to write an anthropology of disgust.