All my life, I've had, on occasions, profoundly anti-social urges; sudden whims to defy the unspoken social contracts that bind peoples together moreso than any document, law, or border ever might. I have never acted on them, not once, not ever. Never really even considered it. But on occasion, there they are.
For the past three weeks, I've been working at Wired's office, downtown. I rarely do this, typically I work at home. It's meant I've been commuting again for the first time since late 2001. Riding the 71 or the N every day, packed in like a prisoner in a lurching vehicle churtling down (or below) Market Street. Everyone swaying together.
Those dark desires come most frequently in these moments, when I'm trapped in a closely-packed and silent crowd. A few days ago, Big Black was the trigger. I was listening to Songs about Fucking, and suddenly, I had the urge to start throwing elbows. To skank up and down the aisle, knocking businessmen and the homeless alike tumbling over onto the seats. The Power of Independent Trucking. Believe it.
Yesterday, it was a little different. There I was, standing towards the back. There was an empty seat next to me, but it was one of those sideways facers. I don't dig those seats: they're too crowded and people are always side-swaying over onto you. So I just stood there. And then, a disheveled red-headed corduroy kid came galumphing on the bus via the backdoor, squeezing his way through the scrum, hunched over with elbows out, and plopped down into the empty seat. He then began digging through the largest, most overstuffed Timbuk2 bag ever carried, his elbow maybe an inch from the chin of the woman beside him. In true big city commuter fashion, she was unfazed, perhaps did not even notice. And from the depths of that giant, filthy messenger bag, he plucked out the latest Harry Potter, and opened it to page 38. (I looked.) Then I noticed the woman behind me--in the middle seat in the very back, the one that has no seat in front of it--was also reading Harry Potter. As was another man just in front of me and to my left. Perhaps more were, even, but these three were all I could spy. I was completely surrounded by Potterses. And just then, I found myself wanting to scream, at the top of my lungs, "Potter dies!"
Instead, I just sent a text message to Twitter, and queued up another track.