He boarded the train and scanned for a free seat, spotting only one, the one beside me. I was reading a book, conspicuously paying him no mind at all while indirectly, peripherally, watching his every move.
He approached the seat beside me cautiously, glancing around as if praying that another free seat would reveal itself. None did. Gingerly, painfully slow, like a deer might take a sip of water at a watering hole frequented by predators, like a man plagued by flaming hemorrhoids, he placed himself into it, watching me intensely out of the side of his head like he was expecting something unexpected to happen…what? I have no idea, but definitely something deadly.
I was on his right. He crossed his right leg over his left and leaned his body left, away from me, as if making contact with me could be the trigger to unleash that deadly action he just knew was pending.
I flagrantly turned the page of my book, rustling it loudly, and smiled at the words on the page, continuing my act of being totally taken with my book and unaware of any of this.
The train jolted a bit sliding him closer to me. He noticed it, and returned to minimum safe distance with a sharp scoot and resumed his lean. I’m sure he bumped the person on his left side. That doesn’t augur well, I thought but suppressed my disappointment and faux-focused on the pages before me while surreptitiously scanning the car. The people across the aisle from us were watching him and I. Several of them had passed on his seat previously and seemed to be curious as to whether they had judged me correctly. His clear discomfort confirmed their suspicions: Though I apparently pose no immediate harm, it would still be impossible to relax beside me. They had chosen wisely.
Oh well. At least he’d sat down.
I whipped out my pad and wrote in it: C. Thought again, and added a “+”.
C+. Not bad.
Surprisingly, a few seconds later, he began to relax and his thigh came to rest against my thigh.
Actual touching, especially unnecessarily, would raise my grade to a B…a B+ if he could manage to eschew the state of alarm he’d been in since taking the seat. But, he didn’t seem the type so I thought I must have been imagining things. I glanced over at our thighs to investigate, turning my head ever so slightly…
He noticed my glance and scooted away again, his body language suggesting that it had been unwittingly done and that he was full of remorse, with a subtle hint of my god, what have I done… type panic in his gesticulations, but that might have been my imagination. I was about to whip out my pad again and change it back to a C when he got up and walked to the end of the car, scanned around like he wasn’t sure which way he wanted to go and then slid the door open and went into the next car.
That’s the third “F” this month.
Then I whipped out my long list of ways I can make the grade in Yokohama and added: don’t conspicuously acknowledge ANYthing the natives do.