Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Metro Striptease

There is something truly wondrous about El Rastro before 10 a.m. Stray dogs run about the cobblestone streets as vendors set up their stands for another Sunday. Old men step outside for the day's first cigarette and for some fresh air, which already smells of leather.

But pretty soon, the place is filled with tourists, which is why I left earlier than usual this morning because finding particular stands is a lot harder when you're being elbowed/pushed/trampled.

The metro was pretty empty and I was sleepy but excited about the day ahead. I sat down next to two men, who were speaking English (my guess was that they were Scottish).

At Callao, three men boarded the train. They looked funny. Pretty soon I realized they were drunk. Let me remind you that it was around 9 a.m.

Now, I've dealt with drunks and with metro crazies (I rode the metro on Halloween night), but nothing could've prepared me for what happened next.

One of the men was clearly more drunk than the others. He refused to sit down and he started clapping. Everyone looked at him in disgust or with annoyance. I didn't look at him. I picked a spot on the floor and stared at it. I was only two stops away from La Latina. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

But then he started stripping. RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.

He took off his sweater, swung it a couple of times above his head and let it fall to the ground. He did the same with his shirt. And then he went for his belt.

If he pulls down his pants, I thought, I could easily kick him in the gnads.

Everyone looked on, horrified. I felt everyone staring at me. Part of me wanted to laugh and part of me wanted to die. I kept staring at the floor.

I had two options: I could get up and walk to the door (and give him the satisfaction of knowing he had made me uncomfortable) or ignore, ignore, ignore!

I chose the latter.

The next thing you know, there's a shirtless guy thrusting his pelvis in my direction, roaring and about to fall down. The men next to me shifted uncomfortably in their seats. His friends asked him to sit down and behave. Instead, he started swinging from the handrail and set off a sensor.

As soon as we reached La Latina, I made a beeline for the door. The Scottish men were right behind me.

"It's too early for some people," I said over my shoulder, as the train came to a stop.

"No kidding."

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