Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Drag Queens in Auschwitz, and other tales

Sometimes when you ride the Max, you meet someone who wants to talk.

Yesterday morning, a young man came and sat next to me as the train pulled out of the station. He complimented me on my outfit (I was wearing a fluorescent yellow bicycling jacket, as I was planning to bike part way to work). Apparently, it's exactly the same color as one of the outfits he uses in his drag queen act.

He was wearing women's jeans. Along the side they had a dainty little floral pattern in sequins, and they did not fit him around the hips. Despite this, he was clearly very proud of them.

He might have been pulling my leg, but he was certainly entertaining. Over the course of a ten-minute ride, he told me:

- he was Jewish
- he was gay
- he was the eldest of 8 children
- he'd been engaged twice (to "biological women")
- he was 24
- he was a drag queen
- he had 40 pairs of women's shoes. (Apparently, it's not that hard to find size 11 heels.)
- his mother asked him what she'd done wrong (i.e. for him to not find women attractive)
- he was planning a trip to England, Amsterdam, and Germany. He was going to meet up with friends in Europe and they were going to do a tour of concentrations camps. "Auschwitz and places like that."

I decided not to mention that Auschwitz was actually in Poland, not Germany. And the trip to Amsterdam was relevant based on the fact that Anne Frank had been his hero since he read her diary when he was 13. But England?

I felt that I had to point out that he might have a problem there. "Um... they don't actually have any Nazi concentration camps in England."
He opened his arms wide, as if to embrace everyone on the train. "But that's where everyone escaped to!"
"Ah. Right."
"I've got a blond wig and some blue contacts. When I get to Germany, I'm going to wear them so I'll look more Aryan."


I had to work later than I'd hoped, so I ended up only cycling partway home (at a sprint, to feel virtuous) and then took the Max the rest of the way. This time my companions were teenage drug users. The young guy was missing several of his front teeth and had long bedraggled hair; the young girl was thinner than a supermodel.

That sounds an unappealing description, but somehow, I found them rather sweet. They were traveling the whole length of the Max line, over an hour into clearly unfamiliar territory, to welcome a friend who was going to get out of jail. They were clearly out of their comfort zone ("This stop is called Hawthorn Farm? I don't see any farm here!") but there was a light-heartedness -- a strange kind of innocence -- about them that I liked.

This being Oregon, the female drug user politely moved her feet to give me a bit more room as I maneuvered the bike, and the male drug user helped me put my bicycle up onto a bicycle hook. Their conversation meandered from the different prisons they'd been in to the colors of the clothes they had to wear (apparently juvenile offenders wear different outfits from adults) to the jumpsuit that their friend had had to wear during his imprisonment. "He must be cold now," the girl said. "He was only wearing wife beaters and shorts when he was arrested."

Sadly, the train was just pulling into the second-to-last stop when the young guy's cell phone rang. Their friend had gotten out earlier in the day and was at their house, clear at the other end of the line, waiting for them to come unlock the door.

The male drug user was torn between amusement and annoyance. "Dude, you're so gay! Yeah, you can crawl in the kitchen window, that's unlocked. But don't you touch my stash! Don't smoke a bowl. I wanna see that waiting for me when I get there." And with that they dashed out of the doors.

Commuting by car was never this interesting.

Exercise du jour:

Week 4 of the (full) 100 push up challenge
Day 2
(90 seconds rest in between)
Set 1 - 20
Set 2 - 25
Set 3 - 20
Set 4 - 20
Set 5 - 28

Over 100 push ups!

Week 4 of the 200 sit ups challenge
(60 seconds rest in between)
Day 2
Set 1 - 30
Set 2 - 38
Set 3 - 30
Set 4 - 30
Set 5 - 42
Done! Mostly at work during lunch, but had to finish up after work.


Tessa said...


I can't help myself. I have to point out that although Amsterdam never had a concentration camp, Vught which is also situated in the Netherlands did have a concentrationcamp. A rather nasty one if I recall correctly.

Amsterdam is a city, not a country. A fact that seems to elude many Americans...

Also Holland is not a country. It's one of the oldest and most well known part of the Netherlands. Had to point that out as well.

And totally unrelated: You actually managed the 100 push-ups challenge? Wow!

LaShaune said...

My public transpo trips in Houston are never this interesting.

The Merry said...

TexNYQueen - maybe it's just because Oregon has a high % of odd people. (That's why I fit in ;)

Tessa - I haven't managed the push up challenge /yet/. The 4th week is apparently the one where most people drop out. That's why I'm putting the schedule up here, to guilt myself into following through.

McB said...

Tessa - to be fair, Americans are equally ignorant about our own geography.

And Merry's public transpo commute is a lot more interesting than mine, too.

pingean ... early radar warning system involving guano.

Charlotte said...

You are the first person to make me seriously miss public transportation! And now I miss the west coast too. I don't even know him but I kinda love the drag queen now.

Crabby McSlacker said...

I love drag queens, but I don't really love public transportation conversations where strangers pour out their life stories to me with no prompting or encouragement.

You are clearly a nicer person than i am.

I do like the diversity you get on subways and trains. I just prefer that people in all their wonderful uniqueness shut the heck up and let me read.

The Merry said...

Crabby -- what I don't get is people who do that when you've got headphones on. I could understand it if my headphones were tiny, but they're fairly self-evident.