The Girl on The Train: How Life Imitates Fiction

I looked at my watch and eagerly awaited for the time my train was supposed to arrive. After leaving from my part-time job as well as listing files in front of my computer for seven hours, I was thinking only about the magazine in my hands and the Boom Boom Satellites CD I was listening to. As the sunset was glaring, I adjusted my sunglasses and stood in line as I got ready to board the incoming train. As was usual, the train was devoid from seated places, since it’s full with people getting back to their homes, so I sit on the ground, on the opposite side of the train door.

Then she entered…

I didn’t pay much attention at first: she was just another person in the daily throng. She sat next to me, however, leaned into the back of the side seats and placed her shopping bag between her legs. As man is naturally curious, I looked sideways to check my transient neighbor, and I didn’t forget what I saw. That moment was one of those times when one just froze at awe towards the beauty of the spectacle. It was what happened to me at that exact time. She was wearing a jean shorts and a striped polo, which combined with her dark brown short hair gave her a tomboyish look. I coudn’t help noticing her slight tanned skin and the perky butt emphasized by her shorts. The bust was the size of apples and the eyes filled with energy. In conclusion, the kind of girl you meet so rarely in your lifetime.

A intent of speaking with her grew with me but I’m not the kind of guy bold enough to do these sort of things, so I was only able to watch from behind my sunglasses during the 40 minutes the trip took. While stuck on that impasse, I couldn’t help to compare my situation with Densha Otoko, or with the zillion romance mangas I know. Afterall, in spite of being works of fiction, mangas have their bases on real life, trying to depict it in a different perspective. But nevertheless, life tends to not have convenient triggers or “sparks” to move the action forward: we get restrained by the social laws of society and common sense, limiting our actions and expression.

Meanwhile, the trip ended. I even thought of slipping my phone number into her shopping bag but how she would react to the fact that a total stranger had made something like that? But even if I dared to think of something like that, I could no more because my chance was lost. I her leaving the train without looking back, another anonymous human being that fades away in the crowd. Each time I take the same train I think about her and wonder if I’ll see her again and if I could have made something different…

Thanks to mike for the help he gave me while writing this post.

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28 Comments

  1. Posted August 26, 2008 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Yep, definately Densha Otoko. You should have attempted. I mean, u meet the requirement of:

    A mass amount of internet randies to talk to…

  2. Posted August 26, 2008 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Comrade the secret to starting a conversation is to be proficient in the art of bullshitting. ;)

    You could have slipped her your number yes, but what’s to stop her from putting it in a public restroom that began with “for a great time call…”

    There is the old battlefield adage that he who hesitates is lost. Perhaps next time you will not hesitate and just come off as creepy and stalkerish, but hey an impression is an impression, and it’s better than being an unknown… sort of. XD

  3. Posted August 26, 2008 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    @Crudsader: Actually, I wouldn’t mind if she wrote the phone number on the bathroom: only 0.00001% of bathrooms here are mixed and in dubious places she wouldn’t go, so that means she would write it on a female bathroom :-p

    But a bad impression is bad and don’t forget I daily ride that train….

  4. shugo2b
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Ive been in a similar position myself, lots of regret for not saying anything

    if you do see her again then you owe it to everyone whose every been in that position to make conversation with her! set the example! she could think your a weirdo or something, but thats better than her never knowing you exist, good luck.

  5. Posted August 26, 2008 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    *sigh* I think we’ve all had moments like these – y’know the ones where you wonder “If I strike up a conversation with this total stranger, where would it lead?” so yeah, I know exactly where you’re coming from.

    I recall a similar train journey to yours where a very attractive young lady sat opposite to me on a train once and asked a couple of questions about some college work she was doing – she was clearly an overseas student trying to learn English…and got off at a station that’s less than an hour from where I live. I’m sure there was the possibility of swapping contact details and meeting up socially but I never got around to asking. The funny thing is, you only remember daft little details…in this case I remember she was an English lit student of some sort :heart: and her hair smelled really fragrant. *shrugs*

    There’s a Haruki Murakami short story that I love because it reminds me of these sorts of situations actually – it’s called ‘On meeting the 100% perfect girl on a beautiful April morning’. Give it a read if you stumble on it sometime.

    Thanks for sharing Extrange – ever thought of doing any creative writing and posting it up? Seriously!

  6. lelangir
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Where’s a crazy drunkard when you need one?

  7. adoggz
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    you know, I think that in those kind of situations, it is better to just tell the truth, or say it like it is, now I don’t mean like “why yes officer, I am drunk and I did indeed kill that person … What? … why yes this is marijuana would you like some?” but if I found myself in that situation I would think I’d have to just tell them like “um … excuse me … I think you are gorgeous and I’m kinda smitten”
    That sounds pathetic but hopefully http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=3993673n this kind of pathetic

  8. Posted August 26, 2008 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    hesitation kills!!!

    didn’t you hear that fate is a winged creature that flees in a blink of an eye. :P

    just hope you’d get to see the girl once more… then again, there’s many-a-fish-in-the-pond. just forget those who got away… :P

  9. phuzybuny
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    I’d thought I’d share one of my “a girl I saw” moments too! I’ve actually written a couple of these and they’re on my facebook…This one is called “Blue Shorts”.

    Blue shorts. A white tee shirt. Silver half-framed rectangular glasses. Dark eyes. Pony tail hair. Tall. Possibly even a bit taller than me.

    The familiar sounds crackled and popped around me. The air was a bit stuffy but warm enough to let the birdies fly well; I could feel it. Flashes of neon yellow, bursts of energy, reaction of the human body to the trajectory of a yellow thing stuck to a cork; this was badminton club.

    I went every session, three times a week, three hours each time. This was where I was at home. This was where I could truly have fun or have the crappiest time of my life. I played badminton since grade nine but tonight’s session was special. I felt it before coming; the urgency to get to the club on time after I finished working. I was late. I hadn’t even finished preparing the samples for the SDS page but I left it to my partner to finish; he knew badminton was important to me.

    I rushed to the bus stop. I had left the lab in four minutes even though it took over an hour to prepare the samples. To my dismay, I was stuck in between arrival times. I looked at my cell phone for the time; 6:57pm. I glanced up at the bus stop arrival times; 6:49pm, 7:19pm. Damn. The minutes passed normally; not fast, not slow, just as time goes. I sat inside the sheltered glass and steel box designed to have only two seats that would only ever be occupied by one person due to the awkwardness of entering someone else’s personal space. I sat alone at the stop. The sky was overcast and rain drizzled every now and then but it was a bright gray sky; a nice rain. By the time I arrived home it was 7:34pm. I quickly packed my gear and my friends and I drove to the gym.

    The session had already started. There were good people here today. Not the crap players that didn’t try. Not the crap players that play badminton just to say they play a sport. Not the crap players who play for extrinsic rewards. Everyone here tonight was looking for something intrinsic; as for me, I play everytime for the fun (for those who know me, the fun of smashing someone else as if they were a target). As I walked to an open spot along the mobile wall in the large eight-court gym I saw someone unfamiliar. I dropped my gear and gave her a quick glance. She sat about a meter from where my gear landed and was watching the games already in progress.

    Blue shorts. A white tee shirt. Silver half-framed rectangular glasses. Dark eyes. Pony tail hair. Tall. Possibly even a bit taller than me.

    I turned around and went to the washroom to change. Coming out, I checked the boards to see which court I was assigned to. I saw unfamiliar names on the same court as mine; two females, one male, it was going to be a mixed game, not bad for a warm up.

    Walking onto court eight, I saw a familiar face. He was a friend. I liked how he played cause it wasn’t predictable most of the time (especially his lame serves that worked). A short girl. Pink tee shirt. Round frame-less glasses. Nothing appealing (sorry). Another game. Seemed like another boring game. The games where even I didn’t want to try except to practice my shots. Then she walked onto the court silently.

    Blue shorts. A white tee shirt. Silver half-framed rectangular glasses. Dark eyes. Pony tail hair. Tall. Possibly even a bit taller than me.

    Damn. First game, I wasn’t warm and thus I wouldn’t be able to perform as I wanted to. I didn’t play poorly. I didn’t play spectacular. This was my first game and something was distracting me. I tried not to give her any eye contact. Even though she was my partner, I failed to notice that she was left handed until mid-game. Normally, a left handed player would make me excited. When a left handed person plays badminton, their arm motion from left to right coupled with the orientation of the feathers of all legal birds cause an estimated 10% boost in speed since the rotation is the same as opposed to a right person hitting the same bird. Because of this bonus of being a lefty, most left handed players are decent and worth trying to play with even if they are on your team.

    She was competent, more than competent. Surprisingly, she held well in the game. Rusted over like she hadn’t played in a while but I could read that she had played well before and was used to the world of badminton. Passing her the birdie during the end of one of the rallies I noticed her racket. Immediately my mind processed the shape, the colours, and the design. It was a Nanospeed 9000 from Yonex that was popular about three years ago when it first came out. She played well, and she had the right gear, I was impressed.

    The game ended almost as soon as it started. The 15 minute shift was over and each person on the court high-fived each other. Her hand was small. Small but elegant. Brushing the net up with my racket and crouching under it, I walked off the court and engaged in small talk with my friend. I’d felt like I made the worst impression in my life. I thought about it a bit more. No, there was one that was worse but it turned out okay in the end. Even so, this was not the impression I wanted to leave with her; a mediocre player.

    The night continued. The assignments of courts would leave us swapped shifted for the remainder of the night (whenever one was playing, the other was sitting out). Too bad. I wouldn’t be playing with her again. All I could do was just hope. Hope she’d notice me. Not a chance. There were level fives tonight. In the five level ranking system, they were the elite, the pros, the dominating players that would set foot on the courts tonight. I was a mere level four. Four out of five, 80%, a competent PDEng assignment mark. I was competent. Level threes were boring. Level twos were new. Level ones don’t exist since no one was willing to look like an absolute virgin in the sport of badminton.

    The level fives played like thunderstorms and tsunamis fighting. Every time I watched them play I imagined a column of power and each level five court had four pillars that extended beyond the outrageously high gym ceiling. Their movements, mesmerizing. Their wrists, wicked. Their footwork, flawless. Only on my best days could I even come close to playing at their level. A true level five was something I hoped to obtain during my stay at Waterloo. Tonight was getting better though. I begin to play better and better games. I was getting near my peak. I was happy. I was playing well. All I hoped for now was that she looked at me when it really counted.

    As the familiar flaw of the opponent opened and opportunity for me to smash, my focus was driven towards the airborne birdie well above my head. Tunnel vision locked on the neon yellow coloured cone shaped object. My body was familiar with the timing, the motion, the sounds, the necessary steps, all perfectly oiled to my favourite part of badminton, the smash. The crack of an explosion rippled in the gym. My hand interpreted the vibrations from the racket as pleasant, the sound was perfect, the smash was perfect. Simultaneous to my own smash, the level five court next to the one I was on , produced more awe inspiring sights and sounds. I had been shadowed by the beasts of insane power. I looked towards her. Hoping for a glance, a glimmer of her eyes, anything that would show that she was looking at me instead.

    Blue shorts. A white tee shirt. Silver half-framed rectangular glasses. Dark eyes. Pony tail hair. Tall. Possibly even a bit taller than me.

    Her entire body was oriented towards the level five court. It would have been awkward for her to even look in my direction. Shot down without even having had the gun aimed at me. I finished the game. It was a decent game. I was getting there, the zone, the athlete’s high, the peak of endorphines being released in the body to counteract the stresses on the body and nerves producing a natural high that would make anyone feel good. I felt like crap.

    I walked around to get a drink after that game. I walked to the farther water fountain from the main gym at CIF because it was chilled water. She went to play. As I walked, my body sweat. My cheeks felt flushed and they were. Salty sweat would smear into my eyes and burn my vision until I wiped it away with my forearm. I needed a hair cut. It was summer and this length wouldn’t even allow me to clay it into anything worthwhile.

    I sat near the glass windows that peered into the gym. She was playing on court eight again.

    Blue shorts. A white tee shirt. Silver half-framed rectangular glasses. Dark eyes. Pony tail hair. Tall. Possibly even a bit taller than me.

    This time I noticed something else. Her friend. Her male friend. Her male friend that she was extremely friendly with. Close friends? I wish. They were probably on the verge of going out. The flirtatious moment in which things are starting to roll in a relationship. The playful happy smiles that always linger and never really disappear. My smile disappeared. Damn. I walked away.

    What was I? What was I thinking? That I’d have a chance? I’d probably have more luck getting hit by a parked car. I was getting way ahead of myself. She was nice looking, granted. She was cute, granted. She was hot, granted. She was pretty, granted. I on the other hand? Nothing special. Nothing. Even if, in the slightest possible fluke of my life, the hugest fluke that would ever occur to me in the most impossible of all flukes in which I might even possibly be in a relationship with her, I thought, what do I have to offer her? Nothing. A nothing that has nothing to offer. Like I once told a friend, I’m just a shell, nothing on the inside, just hollow and nothing.

    I sat down near my gear. Turned on my iPod and wished I had my book with me. I wanted to read. I wanted to escape. I wanted to just forget my dumb epiphany of realization that I had nothing. Compared to those around me, I was nothing. I could blend in as easily as I could disappear. At least with my book, I could forget that I was there. I had left my book in my bag when rushing to get my gear ready after coming home from work. I knew exactly where it was. It sat in my bag which sat on top of my blue computer chair in my room next to my desk.

    Someone I knew walked up to me while I was sitting down listening to my music. He grabbed my attention and asked me if I wanted to play a game with him and two other players. I asked who the others were and he quickly pointed them out. I looked. They were good players. Both level fours but they were good level fours; I would actually be able to have some fun. As the shift ended I walked onto the court and proceeded with the common ritual of clearing with the other players.

    They were tall. These guys actually looked like university students. I, on the other hand, looked like I had stumbled out of elementary school and got lost on my way to the high school badminton club. But I knew I could keep up with these guys. I knew I could outperform them and that they could outperform me. This was a game where the two sides were equally matched. It was getting more and more fun by the second.

    The rallies were fast and intense. I felt alive. This was my high. The reason why I played badminton. The fun of being able to beat someone at your level and maybe even better and at the same time losing to them the next rally. Trick shots were frequented. It was definitely fun. My confidence in my partner grew quickly with my prejudice to him as a good player before we even stepped on the court. I began to try to have even more fun.

    Often, I would net and as the opponent lifted I would swing at the rising birdie in hopes to deny it any further passage. I wanted to be like Gandalf; “You shall not pass!”. I failed to successfully accomplish my goal that I had probably achieved less than ten times in my entire badminton life. The results however lead to intense rallies. I was in my zone. I was in the zone.

    Suddenly I noticed it. She was looking. The court five wasn’t playing at its peak. We were having fun and those around us began to watch. Most importantly of all, she looked.

    Blue shorts. A white tee shirt. Silver half-framed rectangular glasses. Dark eyes. Pony tail hair. Tall. Possibly even a bit taller than me.

    I felt good. I smiled. I saw her dark eyes through her glasses but quickly turned my attention back to the intensely fun game I was in. This was it. This was where I exactly wanted to be. I wanted to be here and I wanted her to look at me. I didn’t care about anything else. I had tunnel thinking. Just one thing on my mind; play well, play for fun, play intense.

    Smash, smash, smash, net, lift, clear, drop, net, lift, smash, dead.

    Smash, lift, smash, net, net, net, dead.

    I had totally lost track of score but we were crushing them. I was happy. This was happiness.

    The night ended on a good game and she stayed long enough for me to get a few more parting glances before I had to leave. She was a guest at the club since the tag she used on the board to identify herself had “Guest 2 _ _” written on it (I cannot recall the last two numbers). I smiled as I left.

    It was a good night.

    Blue shorts. A white tee shirt. Silver half-framed rectangular glasses. Dark eyes. Pony tail hair. Tall. Possibly even a bit taller than me.

  10. Hei
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    I actually dislike it when stuff like that happens I just start getting nervous like crazy my brain over thinks and I malfunction….

  11. LurkerJay
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    hearing these sort of stories, it makes me wonder how many untold Densha Otoko there are in Singapore, land of cheap buses and plentiful trains…

  12. Amoeba
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    lol.. You’re in love…

  13. Posted August 26, 2008 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Remember buddy, the most baller of players and the most hopeless of otaku have the same % chance of success; the only difference is that the players try their luck with more girls. 10% chance on 1 girl is not good, but 10% chance on 100 girls is 10 girls ;) Play on, brother!

  14. LurkerJay
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    aah, the spray-and-pray approach. not unlike firing an Itano Circus style salvo into the face of an anti-missile point defense and hoping something gets through ;)

  15. Olivia
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    maybe she’s a model w/ 200 sex partners… be cautious, my friend – safety first (personal… ehm… experience… my friend…cough cough)

    phuzybuny – whoa – you wrote a novel there!

  16. Posted August 26, 2008 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    I… love you?

    Or rather, that was a really nice read, despite the ending. The kind of stuff I love. I pictured it all crisply and clearly. Chin up, buddy.

  17. Posted August 26, 2008 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the mention.

    I had had experiences like these, but I don’t seem to be able to palpably grasp them right now. I guess I don’t dwell on failures; there’s always more to life than thinking ‘what I should have done,’ and because I think like that I don’t get depressed often. :)

    Extrange, sorry, I wasn’t around. Once you PM’ed me again I was sleeping, and I didn’t wake up until an hour ago. I probably just woke up a little bit, shot the shit for about a minute in the channel, and got back to sleep again.

    I would *so* die from my exam later on. C’est la vie. :)

  18. Posted August 27, 2008 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    You triggered a flag and passed on it. I hope you saved ^_^

    I stare out the window all the time =D

  19. LDC
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    Give up, it will never work. I know.

  20. Posted August 27, 2008 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    You never know, LDC, you never know.

    If anything, the meeting of my gf and I is a 0.00001% chance. And remember what they say about such a chance, it always happens because there is always a miracle.

  21. Posted August 27, 2008 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    I haven’t been in that sort of situation before, but while I’m telling myself that I would at least try to strike up a conversation with the person, chances are I’d probably wondering if she would notice me instead of being proactive. Sometimes you just need to tell that voice in your head to shut up and explode go for it.

  22. Akira
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Just keep telling yourself that she probably had a boyfriend.

  23. ANIMEKRAZY123
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    T-T these situations bug the hell outa me and i just dunno what to do!!!
    I met this totally awesome looking blonde boy at a LM.C concert and we talked a bit and he was quite nice too. Wish i coulda gotten his e-mail or sumthin, and also that i had AIM and stuff cuz he ACTUALLY asked me for my AIM and i was all like shit i don’t have one(in my mind of course) and i was thinking maybe i should tell him i have one and hope i can make the account before he adds me so i can hopefully chat or sumthing. hope i meet him next year at the AX anime fair, since i know he went. T-T oh chances, how i miss them. I hate myself for not at least telling him my e-mail, but he was already leaving so yeah….

  24. someone
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    this isn’t like densha otoko.
    You were just being a scardy cat.

    Densha otoko is were you prevent her from being raped and stuff and you get a tea set as thanks.

  25. Posted August 28, 2008 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    You botched it!!!! Talking is the easy part, and especially when in traveling facilities… and the person is relatively near (vocal distance). Hey at least, so you know, the times I’ve started one of these interest conversations (none recently, but probably 2-3 times a year), the other party is always “involved.” FAIL

    You probably had a dream about her (and if you didn’t she sounds worth it)

    Only in dreams ^^

  26. Bob
    Posted August 30, 2008 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    You know, I really like the picture you chose. In fact I just had to read the text after I saw it (didn’t even read the headline ^^). Kind of hard to explain but the inside of the compartment somehow feels sad and yet with the sunshine outside I just can’t shake the feeling of happiness.

    Anyway, what I wanted to say is that I had a similar kind of expirience once. I wanted to go to a bar with a few friends of mine and got on the train, it was a 20 min ride. When I went to sit down a girl that intended to do the same blocked my path, I looked up to see a real beauty standing in front of me. Well, I don’t recall what she was wearing and all but I can say this, she was very pretty with an incredibly sexy body and the 2 most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. And even though she seemed to be interested in me and me sitting face to face with her I couldn’t do a damn thing.
    So I hesitated, my window closed and when I got out she went left, I right and all that was left was a feeling of sadness…

    You know I thought about Densha Otoko too, but you can’t really compare to that story. He had a “trigger” and after that everything fell into the right place for him. Even the girl didn’t like him at the beginning, she just did it out of grattitude.

    Well, you might feel sad right now, maybe as sad as the guy on the picture looks, but hey, chin up, look out the window, you might see sunshine, trust me ;)

  27. Ginko
    Posted August 31, 2008 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Who hasn’t had these sort of meetings. I’ve seen many beautifull/cute girls on the train when I was on the way to my university. But my heart has darkened. All the time the thought that she problaby has boyfriend already pops up in my mind, and sometimes I’m right. When I arrive at the station some boy is waiting for her, besides I’m too shy to ask anyway. I’ve almost given up hope to such a meeting.

  28. ShadowGuardian
    Posted October 10, 2008 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    The realm of reality dont we wish we could meet that find you attractive for being an otaku.
    Me I’m a 23yr old male with glassses who loves harem ecchi and romantic anime/mangas, and yet I never dated or been kissed. I feel so much outside the box of reality because no-one at work or church (I’m Christian) does like these things too.
    But a good thing about me is I can spark conversation with people. It’s uncanny gift of mine that helps me work in Customer Service. Given the situation I can help them.

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