Entradas con "Translation" disponen de versión castellana.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bethany's Lament


Bethany has reached that point in many women’s lives when reading becomes a luxury indulged in only on the subway. The stuffy cars, packed with people she doesn’t know and whose eye contact she wishes at all costs to avoid, are ideal for elevating the act of reading in public to the status of sacred rite. Like the goddess of the temple of Bethany, she is respected, even venerated, and held slightly in awe by her fellow commuters. This is her firm belief.

Yet Bethany’s firm belief has been wavering lately, especially when riding a crowded train that tends to accommodate wandering hands. At first she thought the hands might belong to perverts interested in her nether regions, but she soon discovered her error. A jacket draped casually over a forearm might flash in the corner of her eye about two seconds before she thinks to check her purse. Her investigative fingers invariably come upon a half-opened zipper at the very same instant the casually draped jacket disappears from view. So often has this happened that Bethany is being forced to surrender her goddess-like aura of self-absorption.

And Bethany is not happy about this circumstance. Already the entire trajectory of the first stop is spent in the effort of finding an acceptable spot within comfortable reach of a pole to hang on to but with enough breathing room to hold a book. Once that is accomplished, Bethany must find her place and read the sentence three times before it can take precedence over the gym suit Carla forgot to take to school, the chicken Bethany forgot to thaw for dinner and the clothes that have been hanging on the line since Friday.
 
 As if these inner distractions weren’t hard enough to juggle, now she has to add the physical demands of keeping one hand at the ready to grab the pole or her purse, keeping one eye on her purse without losing track of her stop, and oh yes, reading that sentence again.

50 comments:

  1. The joys of public transportation. You can't be too careful. I remember when my grandma visited us a child, she took the bus. One time, she napped on the ride and woke up missing $300 from her purse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not likely to fall asleep, as I rarely sit, but have noticed an increase in wayward hands this past year.
      Thanks for reading, Janna!

      Delete
  2. Lacking concentration can be a disaster. Not being able to concentrate on matters at hand ie reading because of possible pick pocketers or worse,. The life of a mum wrapped up in other thoughts ...with the added dilemma of holding onto a pole to steady herself or watching her purse for thievery. Liked your take Kymm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The older I get, the more things I notice myself trying to do at the same time. Thanks, Rambly!

      Delete
  3. Bethany needs to move to Hong Kong. Safest damn mass transit system ever, I think. I use it for reading time, too. But I've found that often while I'm sitting down reading, there's an elderly person or a person with a cane or a tiny, sleeping child who needs my seat, and then I feel like a jerk for not noticing until then.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I sat down to read I'd miss my stop for sure. There are usually too many distractions when reading in public, though.

      Thanks for the visit, Tri!

      Delete
  4. I find my reading times on my lunch break at work or early in the morning before I start to write. If I tried to read on a bus, I would worry about all the things above plus motion sickness from reading in a moving vehicle :/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I usually walk to work, so I have to read on the john and the one paragraph I get through at bedtime. Podcast stories are good for walking, though! I hear you about motion sickness.

      Thanks for the visit, Draug!

      Delete
  5. Oh, you portrayed this so well. I don't miss having to take the train during rush hour.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Bee!
      I rarely ride at rush hour - rainy mornings like today - but humanity can be burdensome, yes.

      Delete
  6. A wonderful tale.
    So many things to juggle, even on a simple train journey to work.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ouch. I'm glad I've never lived in a city where pickpocketing on the train was a serious issue; the inalienable right to zone out on the subway really is sacred!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My first T rides were in Boston, so Barcelona is pretty tame, really.
      Thanks for reading, Annabelle!

      Delete
  8. A smidgeon of daily life expertly expressed! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why, thank you, Linda! Love that - a smidgeon.

      Delete
  9. I know someone who fell asleep on an airplane and was robbed. She woke up just as the thief was slipping the cash into his jacket. What's worse is when she told the flight attendants they didn't know whether to believe her as her seat mate, of course, denied it. She had to wait for the police at the end of the flight. After a grueling time the guy finally confessed and gave her back the money. What you describe so well here I've had happen a time or two. Annoying, to say the least. Wonderful description...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never sleep in airplanes. What a terrible experience, though.
      You said it - it is annoying, when all you want to do is read a bit!
      Thanks, Steph!

      Delete
  10. Oh man! I don't ride the subway, but that is exactly what it is like for me to attempt to read a novel. It usually takes me a month or two. Sigh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, blaming the subway is easy. And the kids. And of course the job. And the laundry. Oh, and this stupid need for sleep!
      Thanks for reading, Stacey!

      Delete
  11. Reminds me of riding the subway in Chicago to work each day... I rode Metra home at night, because you could drink beer. You wrote an interesting look into a woman's life, Kymm. The re-reading because of distractions felt so real.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Subways are great equalizers, aren't they?
      Glad you got a peek.
      Thank you, Ted!

      Delete
  12. I could visualize it. Wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That makes me happy. Thank you, yarnspinnerr!

      Delete
  13. I lived this when I commuted by train in CA. All my reading was done on the train and I read the book at least twice when I would try to find my place again. This seemed very true.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Used to have a small train commute & read a lot more!
    Thanks for reading, Banker Chick!

    ReplyDelete
  15. This was wonderful. I do this commute everyday during the winter in NYC and this describes so many on the trains. I loved the humor in this, especially in these lines:Like the goddess of the temple of Bethany, she is respected, even venerated, and held slightly in awe by her fellow commuters. This is her firm belief.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Goddesses don't exist without the faith!
      Glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for the love, Jennifer!

      Delete
  16. Nice story. Maybe she needs to switch to audiobooks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What? She won't get distracted from listening??!!
      Thanks, HL!

      Delete
  17. Sign of the times-the lowering of moral values along with recession giving them an excuse!Sad!Lovely piece highlighting the troubles of a commuter in an interesting manner:-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I don't know. Pickpockets have been around as long as there have been crowds.
      Thanks for your insights, Atreyee!

      Delete
  18. No wonder the goddess is nervous at her throne, with such insurgency taking place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol You seem to be familiar with the protocols, Jody!!

      Delete
  19. Clearly a great way to juggle. Well described

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you think so. Thanks, Björn!

      Delete
  20. One more thing to juggle. Sad state of affairs. Of course reading and riding are out of the question for me. Motion sickness. Ick.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can I take you with me, Renee? You can watch my pockets while I read??!!
      Thanks for the visit!

      Delete
  21. That gave me a headache! Well done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not sure if you enjoy headaches or liked the story. lol Thanks, Sam!

      Delete
  22. I used to have to ride the city bus through some of the seedier sections of Tacoma, Washington. A book (along with a canister of pepper spray) was my best friend!

    Great writing!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seedy sections from a bus are distracting enough!

      Thanks so much, Valerie!

      Delete
  23. I was so interested in this story. I really can imagine being able to read on a crowded train. But I fell asleep once on the train from Princeton to Penn Station on a late Friday night. Nothing bad happened. I was shocked. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trains are dangerous that way (but better than falling asleep at the wheel).
      Glad you liked it, lumdog. Thanks!

      Delete
  24. FIrst, Kymm, thanks for stopping by my post about Mother Jones. Really appreciated your comment!

    I CANNOT BELIEVE that the poem I wrote after that was about being on the subway, worrying about security (keys clenched outward, etc) and... being groped! And getting revenge. For someone I don't know at all, we were on the exact same wavelength, even though I wasn't doing the Trifecta challenge.

    Here's the subway: http://sharplittlepencil.com/2013/03/06/night-bus-nyc-3ww-real-toads/

    Love your blog! Great writing, hon. Peace, Amy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trifecta has that effect on us - great minds thinking alike and all that. I'd never thought of using keys as WPD.

      Thanks for the love, Amy!

      Delete
  25. I hate travelling on the Metro - It's exactly as you describe it... Nice writing..x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes I abhor it, others I feel fortunate for the easy transport. Depends a lot on the density.
      Thank you, Rosalind!

      Delete
  26. this is spot on. I hate it when I can't get a seat to read my book. There do seem more people on the London underground reading books, kindles & Tablets and fewer reading free newspapers which is a good thing I think. Still a few women doing their makeup and of course people playing Snake or solitaire on their stupid "Smart" phones...

    marc nash

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well the British seem to have staying-out-of-personal-space-while-ignoring-each-other down to an art! I love the Tube, but I'm a tourist, so sit and stare like a rude yank. lol
      Thanks so much, marc!

      Delete

Copyright © 2008-2015 Kymm Coveney - All rights reserved.