Thursday, February 09, 2006

My phone number is not 416-564-5462

Whoa. I just had to give out a fake phone number. Like a girl.

I was just riding home on a streetcar on College St., getting ready to transfer to the Spadina subway, and immersed in a sudoku puzzle as I stood. Someone behind me tapped me on the shoulder just before the streetcar stopped. I let him by. The streetcar stopped. I got off, got on the subway, and transferred to the Bloor line, all the while concentrating on my puzzle.

Someone slipped into the seat beside me and tapped me. I took off my headphones.

"Sorry about earlier," said a young guy with a close-cropped head under his ball cap, a chinful of stubble, and a bit of toothpaste caked next to his mouth.

"What happened then?"

"I tapped you."

"Oh, that's okay."

"I just wanted off."

"Yeah, me too. We just hadn't stopped yet, I thought."

"I'm Patrick," he said, extending his hand.

I shook it. "Hi, Patrick," I said.

"My last name is like the french fries."

"The french fries?"

"McCain."

"Oh. Heh. Yeah."

"What's your name?"

"Uh. Peter."

"Hi, Peter," he said, shaking my hand again. "Are we friends?"

"Yeah. Sure."

"Yeah?"

"Sure, why not?"

"Can I buy you a coffee sometime."

"Uh. Okay."

"Good. Do you write essays?"

"No, not for a long time."

"What do you do?"

"I'm an editor. So I correct spelling and things like that."

"I work for McCain sometimes."

"Oh, really? Doing what?"

"Coming up with new food products."

"Yeah? Like what?"

"I can't say. Or someone might steal my ideas."

"Got it. That's smart of you."

"Have you ever been to Germany?"

"No."

"I want to go."

"Whereabouts?"

"To the Wall."

"Oh, is that still up?"

"No."

"Oh."

"Would you go?"

"Yeah, sure."

"Really?"

"Yeah, why not?"

"I have a German friend."

"Oh, good."

"He's depressed."

"Oh, that's too bad. What about?"

"I don't know."

"When was the last time you saw him?"

"A long time ago."

"You should go see him."

"Yeah, that's a good idea." He paused. "I'm on privileges."

"What kind?" I asked, although I suspected I knew where this was going.

"From the hospital."

"Which one?"

"The psychiatric hospital."

"Oh. that's good."

"Would you like to go to Vancouver?"

"Sure. Why not?"

"I'll go with you."

"Hey, great."

"Do you have a phone number?"

"I do."

"May I have it?"

"Sure." I tore off the top of my sudoku and wrote down a fake number. "Here."

"Can you write 'Peter' on it, or should I?"

"No, I'll do it." I took it back, wrote "Peter" down, and handed it back. "Well, this is my stop," I said, getting up. It actually was. Thank God.

"Okay," he said. "Nice meeting you."

"You too."

"Sorry about earlier."

"No problem."

"Sorry about tapping you."

"No problem."

"Have a good night."

"I will," I said. "You too." I got off the train, put my headphones back on, and walked up the stairs, all the while resisting the urge to shudder.

10 Comments:

Blogger Chance said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/09/2006 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Chance said...

That's nothing. Once I was hugged by a hobo. It was traumatic.

2/09/2006 09:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is anyone going to try phoning Peter's fake number?

- Gloria

2/09/2006 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Lynn said...

I think I'd rather get hugged by a hobo and be able to leave it at that than have a crazy guy want to become a permanent fixture in my life.

My new thing to worry about is this: It's surprisingly hard to come up with a fake number on the spot. I ended up basing it on my real number, but badly transposing a few of the digits. But what if he fucks up when dialing the fake number in such a way that he actually unfucks it up and gets through to me?

2/10/2006 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Riley said...

Hopefully, he'll show up on the caller ID as "That crazy dude."

Or at least "St. Something's Mental Hospital."

2/10/2006 03:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Kendal said...

Have I been living a blanketted life in a backwater country sparsely populated by crazy people, or are you just a crazy magnet?

2/15/2006 12:08:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Lynn said...

I may be a crazy magnet. Yesterday I had another stranger make friends with me on the subway, this time a forty-ish guy from Newfoundland. He saw me sketching a caricature of myself and wanted to know if I could do a portrait of his parents. He talked to me the whole ride and gave me his number and said I should call him to go for a beer some time.

I guess that that's not crazy if you're in a small town in Newfoundland. But in the city, it comes off a little crazy.

2/15/2006 01:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Kendal said...

Just do crosswords on public transport. It intimidates people into thinking you're a very intelligent, serious person not to be messed around with.

I think it's against the law here to let crazy people on public transport. They have to walk, or ride a kangaroo.

2/16/2006 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Lynn said...

I've been doing sudoku, actually. Close enough.

2/16/2006 01:56:00 AM  
Blogger Steve Ely said...

I like that law and think one should be passed everywhere: "Crazy people, when not walking, must ride kangaroos."

2/17/2006 09:26:00 AM  

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