Thursday, June 4, 2009


I got on the Metro this morning and walked past the people standing in the door way and the few in the aisle of the train and sat in the only empty seat. It's odd that there was an empty seat and a dozen people standing. I mean, the man was on the heavy side, but there wasn't too much hang over into the next seat.

I wanted to read. So I sat down.

The man promptly turned and said, "You want to sit here?"
"Yeah, is that alright?"
"Yeah. Cool. Sure. . ."

He was wearing light blue cotton shorts and a over-sized purple tie-dyed t-shirt. His shoes had velcro and his eyes didn't track together. He reminded me slightly of a frog.

"So where do you work?" he asked me rather loudly for Metro conversation acceptability.
"I work out in Arlington" I replied, too quietly I suppose.
"Huh? Where?"
Louder this time, "Arlington."
"Oh. (pause) I work for the Department of Agriculture."
"Very cool. Good for you."

At this point I looked around to see how many people were glaring at us over their newspapers for violating their sacred, silent morning commute. All I wanted to do was read and I seized the brief silence to open my bag and reach for my book but he jumped in again, "I'm currently working on a project to legalize domestic skunks," he said in his slight southern drawl.

"Oh really?" Now I was sort of amused. Skunks? "Who would want a skunk as a pet?"

This launched us into a much-too-long conversation about how skunks make wonderful household pets. They lick your face and like their bellies rubbed. They're alot like dogs. (Sidenote: they're NOT a lot like dogs. They're like ferrets who make your whole house smell like pee). They ". . . come in all sorts of colors, ginger, apricot, peach, lavender, mahogany, and the classic black and white stripe."

Wow. What had I gotten myself into? I again looked around and saw mixed reactions to our COMPLETELY AUDIBLE (TO THE ENTIRE TRAIN) CONVERSATION ABOUT DOMESTICATED SKUNKS. Some people looked on with amusement, and others had the that's-why-I'm-not-sitting-there or I-told-you-so face on. Others seemed to pity me and think this is what happened to the last guy who sat there.

He mentioned to me earlier that his stop was Smithsonian, and with the doors open to the Smithsonian platform and him still talking to me, I quietly said, "Are we at Smithsonian?"

"Oh we are. Thank you ma'am. Mind if I leave you with a brochure?" I didn't mind at all.

Here's the cover:

Inside there was a donation slip he was sure to point out, and the brochure recounted the story of Aspen the Skunk who was euthanized for biting somebody. You can learn more about the Aspen Skunk Rabies Research Inc. at their website,

I almost died. It was too funny. What I had just experienced was so bizarre. And it totally beat reading.

1 comment:

jPate said...

Sometimes I try to read on the train, but I'm always distracted by interesting people similar to skunk man. I've given up. I no longer take a book.

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