Bar Car

As the weather gets colder, the sidewalks get sloppier, and public transportation gets more crowded, I’m very happy to report that I recently made the switch from taking the “L” to riding the Metra to work each day. Don’t get me wrong – I like the Purple Line just as much as the next guy – but there comes a time in a woman’s life when she has to make choices. Difficult choices. Choices like:

  • Listening to someone talk to lawyer on cell phone vs. listening to someone talk back to voices in head
  • Smelling too much Chanel No. 5 vs. smelling too much Body Odors No. 1 and 2
  • Exposing immune system to millions of festering germs vs. exposing immune system to millions of… okay, I guess there’s no real difference there, but you get the point.
    There’s just something about riding the Metra that makes me feel, I don’t know, kind of high society. I always get to sit down on the Metra. I smile at the conductor on the Metra and he smiles back. I can go to the bathroom on the Metra. Some people go to the bathroom on the “L,” which would be fine if there were actually bathrooms on the “L.”
    But there aren’t.
    I find great comfort in the familiar sounds of riding the big girl train: the automated recording saying, “Doors closing. Please stand back.” The conductor leaning out the door and yelling, “All aboard!” And the gentle “Pshhht!” of beer cans opening all around me.
    It was this last sound that initially caught me a little off guard. The first time I heard it, I didn’t quite recognize what it was. Certainly, I’m well familiar with the sound of a beer can cracking open (although I’m more accustomed to the loving pop of a cork from some nice Shiraz), but it was the context that threw me. Beer cans? On a train? In public? That’s so – naughty!
    I must admit, though, that I’ve yet to actually drink on the train myself. Through my astute observational techniques – known in some circles as staring – I have noticed that only men seem to drink on the train. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the train station bars only sell gigantic Sam’s Club sized cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon. I mean, come on now – my ride is only 15 minutes long. How am I supposed to finish all that beer? Do they expect me to shotgun that bad boy?
    That would severely cramp my high society style.
    I did actually see one woman drinking beer on the train a few weeks ago, but she was splitting it with her boyfriend. I guess that’s seen as acceptable – kind of like having a chaperone. But what’s an unescorted gal like me to do? Endure the scornful gazes of all my fellow commuters as I lug my half keg of Old Style past them and start to drink it alone as I stare out the window, a solitary tear running down my cheek?
    Like I said, I love the Metra and all, but really – what kind of world do we live in where a single woman has to feel ashamed to drink 48 ounces of beer on an empty stomach in 15 minutes on a commuter train on a Tuesday night at 5:00pm before she gets into her car and drives home?
    I know what you’re thinking: “Jenny’s just imagining this. She’s projecting her own insecurities onto everyone else. She’s not part of the solution – she’s part of the problem! If she wants to drink a beer on the train, she should just do it and shut up about it!”
    And to that I say: Get the hell out of my head! You’re freaking me out! But I suppose you are a lot cheaper than my therapist, so perhaps you have a point.
    I just wish that society didn’t put so many pressures on people to conform to some unwritten code of ethics. I mean, just picture a world where everyone was free to get intoxicated in whatever style and manner they saw fit. A world where no man, woman, or child with convincing fake ID would be judged for cracking open a Milwaukee’s Best inside a moving vehicle. Open your minds, friends. Can you just imagine it? Can you?
    “Imagine all the people
    Drinking on the train
    You hooooooooo
    You may say I’m a dreamer,
    But I’m not the only one.”
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