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Snakes on a Train - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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June 20th, 2006


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09:31 pm - Snakes on a Train
A couple weeks ago, on the very day I finished The Name of the Rose, I boarded the shuttle to BART and noticed that a cute blonde girl was carrying a paperback of Foucault's Pendulum, which I was about to start, having conquered my first Eco! I told her so, and she acknowledged the fact and did not carry her interest past that point.

Today, I saw her again and wondered how far she was, since I was just over a third of the way through. I never got an opportune moment to ask, however. Nor was I able to ask if she was reading it because she'd read The Da Vinci Code and then been told that it was basically a distilled Foucault's Pendulum.

As I waited for the Colma train, I admired a cute girl in a fuzzy light blue cardigan. Because that is what I do. I admire cute girls. I exist in their vicinity in the hopes that they will talk to me.

When the train arrived, I entered and sat down next to either one of the characters I've already introduced or someone completely new. That is always the way, isn't it?

I couldn't have sat down next to the cute blonde because she was going in the other direction and thus not even on my train. I couldn't sit next to the cute brunette because she passed up several empty seats to choose one near the back of the car, and I couldn't go that far without feeling like I was stalking her.

So, a new character it is, then. A guy about my age or a little older. A few seconds after I sat down, he said, "You're sitting on my leg."

Or at least, that's something close to what I thought he said. I was surprised that he was speaking to me and with such confidence. He had noticed my copy of Foucault's Pendulum (it's a big book) and was asking how I was liking it because he had just started it. I told him it was tough, because that's the standard response when someone asks you about Eco. I said it was good except for the parts where you randomly get twenty pages about medieval history. And you didn't know whether it was important or not, he responded. Right, I said, imitating Eco, "I wouldn't put this in here if it wasn't [sic] important, right?"

He said he was reading it because he'd read The Da Vinci Code, and I laughed and laughed and told him the same thing happened to me. Of note, he also said that Angels and Demons is actually good. I'd wanted to read the books because they were out there and I was a smart person and therefore supposed to want to read them, but the post-DVC discussion finally spurred me to the library.

I mentioned the girl who had started Foucault's Pendulum the day I finished The Name of the Rose, and we agreed that she had to have read The Da Vinci Code; the fact that all three of us were reading it at the same time was too weird for that not to be the case.

He asked how I liked The Name of the Rose, and I said that it was 70% good. There was lots of good detective stuff, since it was basically a Sherlock Holmes/Watson mystery, and fun with logic, but then you'd get pages of papal politics and Inquisitions and things about Jesus. And I didn't care about how the popes became popes and where all the Inquisitions were!

"That's why I'm reading fiction," he said.

"I didn't sign up to learn stuff!" I said.

When there was a silence, he said, "And now for a more mundane question." He asked me where he should get off to kill time by walking around the city. I asked him if he was new here or if he was a tourist. He said he was in town for the San Francisco Tango Exchange. Apparently, SF has a vibrant tango culture. He had come in from Victoria, Canada.

I said the Civic Center area could work, as it was pretty active. He wanted to check out the MOMA, and even though he knew it was closed, he wanted to get his bearings as to where it was. I thought you could probably walk to MOMA from Civic Center. And if you walked in...a direction, you could get to Union Square. When I told him I was getting off at Civic Center, he warned me he would get off when I did so I didn't think he was stalking me.

He pulled out a map, and I showed him where the Civic Center station was on the map. We looked for MOMA and Union Square, and it looked like it would be better to get off at the Powell station. I pointed out Fisherman's Wharf, which he could take the MUNI to in order to see street peddlers and people dressed up as robots and playing saxophones. He pointed out South of Market, which was supposed to have good shopping. I told him about Valencia and explained the pirate store to him.

I'd had my book open in my lap, but I couldn't just read now. I had to milk this human interaction as long as possible! I had already told him about Michigan and Texas and visiting Toronto and Montreal and what I did, so I absentmindedly flipped through the first few chapters of the book and asked whether he'd just started. I told him to bear with it because Eco doesn't care that you don't know what the hell's going on, and he agreed. He was having a hard time pushing forward even though he knew he was supposed to want to read this book.

It was probably earlier in the conversation, but I recommended Cryptonomicon to him as another long book with pages of digressions but with digressions that are much more entertaining and fun to read because of the difference in style. Eco's books are full of characters who lurve seeking knowledge and so babble on and on about how much they know for pages and pages.

He asked if it was expensive to live here, and I said yes. We compared apartment prices, and they seemed comparable to that of Victoria, at least if you were looking for a bare bones flat.

After we left Montgomery station, I said, "By the way, I'm Sunil."

"Julian," he said.

I let him out at Powell. He thanked me for the tips, and I told him to enjoy himself.

Fear my social eptitude.

I've honestly been waiting to have one of these "strike up a conversation with a stranger on the BART" scenes. Of course, I'd like the stranger to be an attractive woman, and I'd like the ending to be unprintable here, but I'll take what I can get.
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Metric - Poster of a Girl

(61 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:amberlynne
Date:June 21st, 2006 04:38 am (UTC)
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Of course, I'd like the stranger to be an attractive woman, and I'd like the ending to be unprintable here, but I'll take what I can get.

And THAT? Is why I love you. Heh.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 21st, 2006 04:49 am (UTC)
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That? That? I've done much better.
[User Picture]
From:waitaminute17
Date:June 21st, 2006 04:40 am (UTC)
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Seriously, every time I read one of you LJ posts it makes me want to use this icon. You need to stop being so cute, it makes it hard for me to concentrate on my studies.
[User Picture]
From:r_a_l_i_g_h
Date:June 21st, 2006 04:45 am (UTC)
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Fear my social eptitude.
We already do.

I've honestly been waiting to have one of these "strike up a conversation with a stranger on the BART" scenes. Of course, I'd like the stranger to be an attractive woman, and I'd like the ending to be unprintable here, but I'll take what I can get.
But that sort of thing happens to you almost all the time! Well, with virtual strangers - people youonly knew from online before that time.

At least, that's MY impression of your life.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 21st, 2006 04:50 am (UTC)
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Heh. No comment.
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[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 21st, 2006 04:51 am (UTC)
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Dude, that's a good thing. Unless you're keen on having Aaron Echolls in your backseat.
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From:sterope
Date:June 21st, 2006 04:56 am (UTC)
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Badger #3!
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From:holly96
Date:June 21st, 2006 04:58 am (UTC)
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You are much more socially outgoing than I am. I hate when people try to sit next to me on the train. And the only people I've had conversations with are people I wish I hadn't. Because they're crazy.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 21st, 2006 05:02 am (UTC)
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But there are so many people out there! Who would have ever thought I would run into a Canadian tango dancer reading the same book I was for the same reason?!
[User Picture]
From:amarettolime25
Date:June 21st, 2006 05:03 am (UTC)
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Is badger the new skunk?

Since everyone in the VM4 was talking about reading The Name of the Rose, I decided to start reading it. Damn my curiosity!
[User Picture]
From:matchboxslayer
Date:June 21st, 2006 05:13 am (UTC)
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i envy you in more ways than one, now.

i'm going to practice talking to strangers. with internet revolution and wrirting everything i say, i go back and fix things. i think this has inhibited my face to face social skills. they should have rehab programs for people like me.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 21st, 2006 05:16 am (UTC)
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They probably do. You're in L.A., for God's sake. They must have a rehab program for EVERYTHING.
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From:debetesse
Date:June 21st, 2006 05:23 am (UTC)
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I had a vaguely similar encounter with a guy on the Subway in NYC who was reading a comic. He was sitting right by the door, and I glanced at it, and I knew I recognized the page. Turned out it was V for Vendetta. I ended up reccing a couple things to him.

There was no making out there, either. But connecting with people in a situation like that is nice. Maybe the next one will be a local and you'll make a new friend!
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 21st, 2006 05:25 am (UTC)
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Yay for random encounters!
From:hobviously
Date:June 21st, 2006 05:43 am (UTC)
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I enjoyed this post a lot! Well done, you. I wish I had cool conversations with strangers and/or that I were more into my current book.

Love,
Amy "Tris"
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From:sjester
Date:June 21st, 2006 06:52 am (UTC)
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Hey, some of us like the medieval history stuff. There's a special name for us. It's "crazy" "medievalist."

And I'm so very glad you're reading Eco. Is that wrong?
[User Picture]
From:gertinator
Date:June 21st, 2006 06:56 am (UTC)
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Hmmm. The last person who talked to me on BART was Wanda, who started by telling me the plot of the latest movie the Rock was in. Except she started mid movie, as if picking up a conversation we had earlier, and it was mostly, "And then he went, " motions a punch,"Pow! and the guys is like, Ugh, and the he goes, Bam!" After this entertaining synopsis, she showed me her ball collection. Yes, she had a bag full of balls (not very clean either) that she had found in various parts of the city. Her prize find was a moldy looking Nerf ball. Just as she pulled out her wallet to show me pictures of her friends, it was my stop.

And then there was the really fat guy who pulled his shirt up and started spraying his belly with cheap perfume and rubbing it in, then glancing over and grinning...

I think maybe I have been riding the wrong train...
[User Picture]
From:cindywrites
Date:June 21st, 2006 09:58 am (UTC)
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Oh my word, this is what always happens to me. At the movies, do you end up next to the guy who is talking to himself throughout, and acting out the action scenes with lots of air punches and grunts, too?
[User Picture]
From:cindywrites
Date:June 21st, 2006 09:59 am (UTC)
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You're adorkable, Sunil.
From:wee_warrior
Date:June 21st, 2006 10:00 am (UTC)
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I said it was good except for the parts where you randomly get twenty pages about medieval history.

Funny, I like Foucault's Pendulum mostly because it does have all that stuff about the Knight Templars - well, and for the whole "invent your own conspiracy" thing. The same is about right about The Name of the Rose, although I loved that one for it's own sake, too. But at least at fourteen, I dug all the information about different groups of monks, and the latin and all that. We actually had to read the book again for a history seminar I attended back when history was still my major, so it definitely has it's uses.

[User Picture]
From:ashfae
Date:June 21st, 2006 10:10 am (UTC)
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Wootage.

You should see the movie for the Name of the Rose. Sean Connery being Sean Connery (only in a monk's robe) and Christian Slater in his first movie. Very funny. Worth seeing if only for the line "Oh, you've got to take him away, don't you know the Devil is throwing beautiful young boys out of windows?!?"
[User Picture]
From:alannaofdoom
Date:June 21st, 2006 10:47 am (UTC)
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It's so much more difficult to have conversations with strangers in NY, where we consider any overtures made while on public transportation to be on a par with, say, urinating on someone.

We watched the movie The Name of the Rose in my world history class in 9th grade. The teacher forgot to watch it herself first. So we arrive at the "Tiny little twelve-year-old Christian Slater HAS SEX!!!" part, and she says, "Whoops, better fast-forward through this," stops the tape, fast-forwards, restarts - and there's the money shot. Scarring. Absolutely scarring.
[User Picture]
From:spadada
Date:June 21st, 2006 10:59 am (UTC)
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Fear my social eptitude.
I do, honey. Good work.

I only read one Umberto Eco book. I loved it, but I know it is to be much easier than his novels. But it is a good (and short) literay theory book if you like that kind of thing.
[User Picture]
From:soundingsea
Date:June 21st, 2006 11:49 am (UTC)
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I remember plowing through The Name of the Rose as a young teen. I doubt I'd have the attention span now. Cryptonomicon, on the other hand, entertained me greatly (and I've studied the math it covers, which helps).

And your train encounters are fun to read! I'd chat with you on a train any day.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:bspalek
Date:June 21st, 2006 12:14 pm (UTC)
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Heh, I ride the bus every day and I never meet anyone cool and interesting. It's always either the crazies, the crack heads who strike up conversations with me. Or guys old enough to be my father hitting on me.
(Deleted comment)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:June 21st, 2006 03:44 pm (UTC)
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I haven't tackled them yet! They are daunting.

I was sad when Cryptonomicon was over. I had spent nearly three months in that world.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:eirefaerie
Date:June 21st, 2006 12:25 pm (UTC)
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That could totally never happen to me. I'd have tripped over the second word. This is why I love you, Sunil, and why I'm glad you're my friend. Because you like people, and life.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 21st, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC)
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I do. It's very strange.
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From:ladydisdain225
Date:June 21st, 2006 01:02 pm (UTC)
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I said it was good except for the parts where you randomly get twenty pages about medieval history.
Heh. I'm having the worst Moby Dick flashbacks. Exciting story for one chapter followed by a chapter on the types of whales. Or harpoons. Or explaining exactly how they get the damn whale blubber. Man, that guy needed an editor so bad.

Despite having no interest in reading the DaVinci Code, I'm now interested enough to think I should probably pick up a couple of Eco's things (he's always been in the back of my head in a vague list, I've just never gotten around to him) and Cryptonomicon.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 21st, 2006 03:47 pm (UTC)
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The funny thing is, those chapters were some of my favorite parts of the book because they were all metaphorical and shit. "The Whiteness of the Whale" blew my mind.

You should definitely pick up Cryptonomicon. As I said, Eco was on my vague list as well, but man, do I wish he'd make his narrative a bit more...narrative.
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From:tamarai
Date:June 21st, 2006 01:50 pm (UTC)
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Great post! I almost felt like I was there with you. What coincidences. I love talking to strangers. Except when they turn up in my car. That can be awkward!
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 21st, 2006 03:48 pm (UTC)
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I almost felt like I was there with you.

As I've said before, this is pretty much the greatest compliment you can give me, even though I don't think I deserve it for this post.
[User Picture]
From:jenelope
Date:June 21st, 2006 02:04 pm (UTC)
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I have random conversations with complete strangers sometimes, too. I met a lovely couple in the magazine section of CVS while killing time until my Hungry Howies order was ready, for instance. I just have problems talking to people I know.

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