Strangers on a Train

“Excuse me?”

I take off my headphones, lower my book, and glower at the guy across from me. He and his friend have been drinking Coors Light from wide mouth cans for the past twenty minutes and their legs kept banging up against my knees. I glance out the window and watch Westchester zip past our train.

“Sorry,” he continues. “I hate to bother you. But are you reading that for school?”

I look down at my worn copy of A Separate Peace and raise my eyebrows. “No. I’m reading it because it’s a good book.”

Now he’s caught in a disappointment. “Oh, because I had to read that for school, and I just hated it. I thought it sucked.”

“Where do you go to school?” I ask him. His friend laughs.

“Oh, I’m not in school. But I went to school in Scranton.” He scratches his knee and sips his Coors. “My name is Peter. And this is Derek.”


“Where are you in college?”

“I’m not. I went to Brandeis. Outside Boston.”

“Oh yeah? That’s a good school. My cousin goes there. She’s a sophomore. So I guess you wouldn’t know her, would you?”


“What do you do?”

“I’m a publicist for a magazine. What do you do?”

“We’re … in between jobs,” Peter says hesitantly. Derek rolls his eyes. “So, I know this is weird, but what are you doing Saturday?” At this point, Derek starts snickering at Peter.


“We’re actually going to a wedding. Our friend’s getting married. He’s only 23. It’s ridiculous. But he knocked up the girl, you know? So we’re going to a wedding in the Bronx. And you should be my date.”

“Oh,” I laugh and smile. A few strangers in adjacent seats are surrepticiously listening in. “I wish you asked me last week. Because now I have plans.”

“Were you on this train last week?”

“No … I’m going to visit my grandparents for dinner.”

“So how could I have asked you last week?” Derek loses it and actually laughs out loud at his friend. Even the strangers start to roll their eyes.

At that point, we reach White Plains. Which is sad, I think, because I really do love weddings. And I bet I could have drank these guy under the table.


4 responses to “Strangers on a Train

  1. Good god, that wedding would have been a gold mine for writing material.

  2. Another missed opportunity . . .

  3. also – if I can grab my soapbox for a moment – WHY do people (not all, but most it seems) always assume that if you’re reading a book, it’s for a class? Has no one heard of reading for pleasure any more? Is it truly THAT rare? In NY, no less? The thought is infinitely depressing. *off Elitist soapbox now*

  4. Pingback: New Trends » Blog Archive » strangers on a train

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