When I first moved to London, I treated the London underground as though it were a British Airways trans-atlantic flight. When I hopped on, my ducks were in a row: I looked good, I was hydrated, I had in-flight entertainment at the ready. Now it’s more like a midnight Wal-Mart run. And I much prefer it that way.
Last week I had a makeup malfunction which was really more of a You’re-probably-allergic-to-this-mascara situation. I was blinking underneath puffy eyelids and black streaks smeared my cheeks. I looked like a [beautiful] abstract Japanese ink painting. I was so embarrassed as I fumbled around for a tissue in my purse and struggled to use my phone as a make-shift mirror. Essentially, however, my dramatic ordeal was a one-woman-zero-audience kind of situation. No one cared.The other night I had the unfortunate mis-pleasure of sitting next to two lovers (a title they earned on that particular tube ride, if you get my drift). I glanced around at other passengers. No one cared.
I’ve watched commuters scratch their bums, pick their noses, look at pornography, change their whole outfit, talk loudly about their friends secrets on the phone, engage in considerable foreplay, fall asleep and snore, vomit, hang on the railings, clip their nails, make a sandwich, fight, and more. And in most instances, I’m the only one watching. I thank/blame smart phones and the generosity of the London Evening Standard which is free. Londoners have this ability to put up a force field of silent self-absorption on the underground. No shame, no social grace, complete freedom.
While I’d like to work on maintaining some semblance of classiness in public places, I’ll admit to being very satisfied with the freedom that comes with accepting that the world will keep turning if I decide to have one of those “celebs on their day off” moments. And that’s what I’ve learned: that essentially you’re not as important or as watched as you think you are, and learning to be comfortable while comfortable is a gift.
But I mean keep some lip gloss in your purse just in case you run into someone you know.