Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Early this morning, getting sleepily on the commuter train without resorting to the usual full-spectrum seating strategy, I simply occupied the nearest aisle seat of a two-seater closest to the center of the car that would be nearest the exit of the arrival platform and soon realized that the plump young guy passenger sitting beside me had a loud, rhythmic clicking sound coming from his head, sort of like many small metallic doors opening covertly one by one, or maybe the gradual parting of bone.

If I turned to look I might see a long-necked extraterrestrial slug staring back at me from out of the unfolded skull, who knew these days, then the alien sound began to grow louder and more insistent, as though the beast were swelling to its true proportions, it must be pretty damn big, maybe I should change seats before it occupied him completely and had me for breakfast.

I turned to see how far the takeover had advanced, perhaps gauge the potential reach of the beast, when I beheld a gleaming pair of very hi-tech earphones bouncing on the guy's ears. That sound of bone cracking was in fact music! Music that was, if you're an absolute stickler for definition, meant to be listened to! And the listener was either sleeping through it (!), or it had rendered him unconscious. He was definitely alive, I could see him breathing. Alien takeovers keep their victims alive right till the end, then they discard them like a husk.

Judging by the creative nuance and thematic sensibilities of the sonic event, unconsciousness appeared to be the listening mode of choice. However, it's a sort of unwritten general principle of mine not to fall asleep to the sound of bone breaking. So not having brought along any of those earplugs explosive experts use (bad commuter planning), before the next stop I warped to a distant and therefore much quieter seat. In that newfound tranquility I pondered an addition to my commuter arsenal: hi-tech earphones, playing be-bop, top volume: that would keep the unearthly at bay.

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