On Saturday morning I took the LA Metro train downtown. It was just past nine, so there weren’t too many other riders. But the folks that were there provided some fascinating people watching.


The most interesting of the bunch was Germ Man. This dude got on at some random stop and immediately headed to an empty corner of the train. As there were only about 10 souls on that car, it was easy to find solitary space. The first thing I noticed about Germ Man were his blue rubber gloves – the dishwashing variety. The next thing that struck my eye was his homemade cape. He had some sort of skull cap tied around his head, and there was a surgical mask pulled away from his face and propped on his forehead. He was a twitchy fellow, kind of shaking here and there. And he spent most of his time looking at his own reflection in a glass window. At some point, I guess he tired of being alone, so he moved near other riders. In doing so, he reminded me of those schlubs at the movie theater on slow days. You know the type – the sap who spies with his little eye the only other person attending a matinee and then proceeds to go and sit directly in front of or behind that lone viewer. I hate those guys.


Anyhoo – Germ Man first headed over to seats occupied by a lady and her 3 small children. Within seconds, one of the kids coughed – politely – into her elbow. Well Germ Man started twitching away and rushed to stand near someone else. Then that dude coughed, which sent Germ Man into a near spasm, followed by a quick retreat. The next guy he approached, well, I swear he started fucking with Germ Man. The rider coughed a little and sent Germ Man fleeing. Then a few more folks did the same. I can’t be sure, but I’m fairly certain the only legitimate cough heard during that ride belonged to a well-mannered 5-year-old girl. And believe me when I tell you I was fighting the chuckles. Before his head exploded, Germ Man headed back to the empty corner of the train car, pulled down his surgical mask and twitched in solitude. He then began rolling his t-shirt sleeves until his shoulders were exposed, he tightened the do-rag around his head and smoothed his eyebrows. He approached the car doors and stood tall. When the train stopped at his station, he walked proudly and shakily onto the platform, ready to fight Germ crime.


That was when a no-neck muscle-head roller-bladed aboard and sat near me, knocking me with the boots he held in one hand. In his other hand he carried a metal bar, about 4 feet long. As I’m not used to anyone speaking to me on the train, I was caught off-guard when he abruptly asked my name. Without hesitation, I said “Sarah.” Then – I swear – he started saying something to me in response and fell asleep, mid-slur. He was with a buddy who woke him and they both got off at their chosen stop.


My stop was next, and I made my way up and out from the underground and to my meeting. I had only been on the train for a short time, but the trip certainly yielded some mighty fine visual entertainment.


Oh. Almost forgot. Germ Man was also wearing a studded dog collar. I’m sure that’s where his power was. Either there or in that fraying, homemade cape. It really was a marvel.

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