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Under The Ground 3: Personal Contact

August 8, 2010

He starts by washing his face, cradling an imaginary flannel in both hands and, given the circumstances, making do without water. Hmmm. Possibly some kind of simulated wake-up-and-rinse ritual. Next a quick right-handed check for stubble. This requires the pulling of a quizzical, thoughtful face, as if considering whether a supplementary shave might be called for, presumably in the carriage itself. The nail of his index finger is now pressed into service as a makeshift toothpick, and every crevice thoroughly searched for stray morsels which might later, or even now, yield a second breakfast. Much smoothing of eyebrows and rubbing of knuckles deep into corners of eyes. Teeth employed again to clean under the fingernails. Sly nosepick. And now the finale: a finger is inserted into his right ear and vigorously shaken up and down for a couple of minutes. What benefit, or indeed substance, this might produce is hard to estimate from my seat across the aisle. Grooming complete, he relaxes into a position that now suggests under-employment and invites appraisal. I do in fact want to congratulate him, and would offer to shake his hand. But I decide not to.


From → Under The Ground

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