Saturday, January 14, 2006

Someone's Got a Secret

There is nothing more irritating than not knowing a secret, particularly when you have a strong suspicion that you are the secret.

The other day, while taking the subway, I had the common experience of riding uptown next to a rowdy group of friends. There were four of them, three men and a woman, talking loudly in a Slavic-sounding language. Two stops into our jaunt, I realized that they were talking about ME. Like most people, I imagine myself at the forefront of everyone’s mind. I therefore initially dismissed the suspicion as another vestige of my own self-importance. The group of co-riders appeared to read my internal monologue though, and they cleared up any confusion by explicitly pointing at me. While I had been observing from the corner of my eye, I decided this development required looking head on. I peered shyly at them across the car. Four heads immediately swiveled to random directions. One of the men became intrigued by the map behind him, the woman scrutinized her nails, and the other two became fascinated with the tunnel wall outside their window. I sheepishly turned away, only to be met by peals of laughter. Amidst busy chatter, the group appeared besides themselves. One of the crew literally shook in his attempts to maintain some decorum. Making a speedy exit at my stop, I slinked away utterly confuzzled.

I have since envisioned alternative endings to the scene. In one version, instead of running away in embarrassment, I wittily respond in their native tongue. This version ends with the group complimenting my impressive mastery of Slovenian. Another version entails them saying, “We just can’t get over how you look exactly like [insert name of super model here]!” I then inform them that I get this all the time, and we collectively remark at the uncanny resemblance. The final version, and perhaps my favorite, involves them saying “We can’t believe it, we came all the way from Kazakhstan, and we discovered Ms. J! Our whole country thinks you’re a genius!” This version ends with my good-naturedly signing autographs.

The unifying factor of my alternative endings is that, in the end, I am not the butt of a secret. I will probably never know exactly what enthralled my audience that afternoon. All I know is that it’s no fun whatsoever to be the unwitting subject of conversation. That, and I’m never going to wear that shirt again.

Ms. J


Blogger Jarous said...

Understood ... but when I think about the reasons people talk about others, their attention seems not worthy to think about at all... ;)

11:00 AM  

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