I got off the train, not knowing where I had to travel in the cold night. I had a rough idea, but I’ve been having terrible luck trusting my rough ideas lately. I thought I’d ask someone for details. The passengers that had gotten off the train with me obviously knew where they were going, because their strides were purposeful and quick. Looking for someone to help, I turned to a middle-aged lady in smart business clothes and voiced my question. She looked at me strangely for a second, as though I was speaking a foreign language, then just as quickly she snapped out of it and told me the direction I had to walk. Then she added “But I have to go that way. I can give you a ride if you’d like.”
When she said that my mind traveled years back to primary school, when they would sit us all down on the floor and try to convince us not to do stupid things. Don’t light fires. Don’t play with guns. Don’t trust anyone wearing a trench coat. Don’t accept rides from strangers.
I’ve broken most of these, except the trench coat one, so I decided that I should accept her offer. The situation, statistically speaking, was more dangerous for her than for me. Newspapers are hardly littered with stories about middle-aged women kidnapping and torturing innocent teenage boys.
We walked to her car. She pointed it out to me, and I wasn’t surprised to see that it was a little red two-door BMW. She opened the door for me first and I slipped into the leather seats, running my hands along the wood dashboard that contained an elaborate stereo system. I pictured her zipping along the road, humming happily along to a Brahms concerto. Or maybe some jazz. I didn’t ask her. Sitting in her car I was consumed by warmth, not just from the heating, but because of her. If men use cars as penis extensions, this was the female equivalent.
We kept talking. It was on a different level to small talk, but neither of us said what we were thinking. I felt her quiet desperation—she told me of her divorce; or rather she talked enough to let it slip. She talked about her sons and their jobs and wives. I’ve never experienced any of it but I had an idea how she felt. Feelings are rarely different, only the catalysts.
We drove down some very dark streets and it occurred to me that maybe women picking up young boys in cars happens all the time, just doesn’t make the papers. I have to say that the prospect didn’t worry me greatly. I felt like she might need it in some weird animal way. Her respectable world of business wear and dinner parties and BMWs and sons with high-paying jobs probably didn’t have much of an outlet for selfish and carnal pursuits. If she thought I could help, I would try my best. The years had been kind to her, not just financially, and I felt like telling her.
But of course I didn’t. It may have been my own loneliness that I could smell. Perhaps she was completely happy with her existence, and only offered a ride to a stranger out of kindness, and not for the thrill of the unknown, the chance that something, anything, could happen. Maybe she didn’t sense the opportunity that we could both waste some of our lives doing something for no reason. Or that we could be honest despite our species’ aversion to it.
My stop came quickly. I lingered while we finished talking. She touched my knee before I opened the door. It was as though she wanted to know I was real. Neither of us had the words that night, or the abandon to bypass words in favor of lust. When I closed the door and crossed the road she spoke again. They were related to what we were talking about but not what we were thinking. I replied with a laugh and another note of gratitude, to which she smiled. I kept walking and she drove off into the night.