Missive to the Pretty Girl Who Smiled at Me on the Train This Morning

Con P. Orfynes



I keep my eyes to myself. Whether it is on a train or in a nice moderately-priced restaurant or a shopping center or a musical venue where an agreeable-sounding band is playing, I try to avert my gaze, quite contrary to the archetypal poet of Herzog's theory. This morning, sadly, I faltered. I looked up from my book, I inadvertently looked at you. When my eyes rose, you were already looking. Maybe I was too nervous to look away but we made eye contact for over a second and a half (although it may be overzealous to say it was closer to two seconds). You were already looking at me and when I looked up, you smiled.

Why did you smile at me? Was I some vain source of amusement for you? Why would you have focused your gaze on someone of my lessened calibre? You had a tattered newspaper beside you, which may have not been entirely informative but may have been greater for its aesthetic merits. However, we made eye contact and you were smiling. What is this supposed to make me think? Perhaps — much akin to the condescension of Marie Antoinette as she surveyed the disenfranchised proleteriat — you were amused by my appearance, perhaps even fascinated by the Other enough to have invested the time and effort necessary to make eye contact and smile. It's quite conceivable that you were disgusted by what you saw. You never looked away. You followed Herzog's advice well.

Part of me would love to think that you smiled at me because you wanted to show me a benign kindess, or perhaps that you saw something in me that you deemed noteworthy and even attractive. I know, however, that this is just the weaker, hopeful part of my spirit speaking in tongues. It's obvious you felt nothing. You are a pretty girl, and there is many a fitting suitor that shall rap upon your window before the day is through. You can take comfort in the knowledge that I shall not be one of them. No girl will ever have to undergo that discomfort from me.

Liken me as to a ghost, for I simply am not here.