Don't Stand So Close To Me
November 19, 2010
Weirdest pregnancy symptom yet: Claustrophobia.
Well, not even that, exactly. Kind of combination of a fear of crowds (demophobia!) combined with a violent knee-jerky reaction to invasions of my personal space. Like, if you accidentally bump into me in the grocery store aisle, don't be surprised if I start involuntarily shrieking and karate-chopping the shelves of soup cans.
Jason noticed I seemed increasingly jumpy right from the start. I'm usually a big-time hugger, and very demonstrative and in-your-face with my compulsive need! For affection! Because I like you! Hi! Gimme a cuddle!
Instead, ever since getting all knocked up, I would startle if he brushed into me and sort-of flailingly seek to extricate myself from bear hugs and whenever the boys would do their patented EVERYBODY PILE ON MOMMY couch trick I'd slither to the floor and escape, and not in a HA HA FUN MOMMY way. More of a BACK THE HELL OFF ME, YOU ANIMALS way.
And then things got serious a few weeks ago, when I foolishly waited too long to head downtown for the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. I knew it would be bad, but not...that bad. I couldn't leave for the Metro until after Noah's soccer practice, but I was planning to meet Tracey and Charlie at their hotel a few stops before I figured things would get REALLY crazy and walk the rest of the way. Where we would quickly and easily be able to meet up with some of the other Mamapop writers at the rally. Because la la laaaaa I don't really understand how my hometown works sometimes.
NEWSFLASH, DUMBASH: Things were crazy everywhere. I am pretty sure the entire DC-area population plus a bajillion tourists were all funneling into the Metro system at the exact same time. Platforms were mobbed, trains were packed, wait times were agonizing, Metro pass lines were...I don't even think you could call them "lines" anymore. More like "zombie hoards fighting over the dead horse entrails in The Walking Dead."
I DON'T KNOW HOW THIS MACHINE WOOOOORRRRRKS. I NEED TO RECHARGE MY SMARTTRIP PASSSSSSSS. HOW MUCH TO RIDE TO JUDICIARY SQUAAAAAARREEE? BRAAAAAIIIINSSSS.
Long story short: I finally got on a train. And found myself far away from a door or window, smushed right in the middle of a crowd of people who were all taller than me, trying to avoid my face crashing into their armpits with every lurch of the train, standing on my tiptoes in order to get anything close to what I'd consider fresh air.
And I immediately, quietly, started to freak the FUCK OUT.
For the record, I have never been on a Metro train -- crowded or otherwise -- with a pack of NICER people. Two guys helped me shimmy and inch my coat off once the cold sweats and labored breathing started. Another guy kept talking to me, alternating between distracting me and assuring me that everything was going to be okay, once he realized that I was, in fact, starting to freak the fuck out.
(Though one girl kept whacking me in the face with her ponytail. I did not enjoy that.)
At every stop, the doors would open to a discouraged-yet-hopeful looking mob on the platform. Like us, they'd probably watched a good half-dozen trains pass them by already and were getting a tad desperate. So they'd try to push their way on. One or two always seemed to succeed, just by being forceful enough. My tiny bit of space got smaller and smaller; I became convinced that I no longer had adequate room to fully inflate my lungs and expand my rib cage.
After one stop, another girl barreled off the train in a panic. She was sobbing, and her friends hollered in protest from the aisle. "Where are you going? What are you doing?"
Her only response: GET ME OFF GET ME OFF GET ME OFF
I made it about four stops, and as the train slowed down to open the doors AGAIN and allow more people to PUSH and PILE IN and OH MY GOD...I started shrieking.
GET ME OFF GET ME OFF GET ME OFF
I got off the train. I found a seat and sat there gasping for awhile. Then I got on a train going in the other direction to go home. It was still full of people who were trying to get to the rally -- they'd all simply given up on getting aboard a downtown-headed train and figured they'd ride out to the 'burbs to where the crowds died down and reboard. They figured they wouldn't have to go any further than the stop I'd started at. I tried to warn them but shut up once everybody glared at me.
Sure enough, when we got back to my home stop, the crowd had easily doubled in size. Zombies, everywhere, lugging giant humorous signs and folding picnic chairs, like haaaaaaaa, yeah. You might as well just open that thing and park your ass right here, because this is probably the closest you're gonna get to downtown until AT LEAST Tuesday.
This was all happening between 10 and 11 in the morning. I stopped shaking like a leaf sometime around...2 or 3 in the afternoon? I missed the rally, but my disappointment was easily offset with my relief over NOT TOTALLY DYING ON THAT STUPID TRAIN.
Last weekend we went to a concert. The Black Crowes at the 9:30 Club. It's a smallish, standing-room-only venue that always packs about 17 million more people than one would expect for a smallish, standing-room-only venue. Still, it was nothing like that Metro car. Still, I found myself freaking out every time a club employee pushed past us with cases of beer to restock the nearby bar, every time someone tried to push by to angle for better real estate, and at several points during the night I had to turn around and put my forehead on the nearby wall because at least the wall was somewhat predictable in its movements and I felt like I could get fresh air if I breathed it directly from the notches in the bead-board paneling. I spent most of the time concentrating on NOT VOMITING. And watching this one drunk girl burst into tears every 10 minutes because she was havingsomuchfun and lovedtheBlackCrowessomuch and was also reallyfreakingdrunk.
A big, barrel-chested guy pushed through our area -- my defensive angled-out, pointy elbows did nothing to deter him -- and got STUCK directly in front of me. WEDGED, is more like it Our torsos were TOUCHING. I swear my clothing was ABSORBING HIS SWEAT.
Jason says he saw my eyes bulge out of my head and my hands ball up into fists...right as the guy finally managed to squeeze past and on his way.
About five minutes later, he caught me right before I started to black out. We decided that maybe we'd heard enough. They'd already played Josephine and She Talks To Angels, and I firmly believed that nothing -- not even Hard to Handle -- was worth DYING OF CONTACT WITH OTHER PEOPLE'S SWEATY T-SHIRTS over.
So anyway. That's been happening. More often than it probably should. The good news is that most of the time, I can avoid closed-in crowds like that, and am now fine if my children play the PILE ON MOMMY game...just one at a time.
The bad news is that I have standing-room only tickets to another giant sold-out concert in February. I'm thinking of constructing a giant adult-sized hamster-ball bubble with yellow STAND BACK 50 FEET caution tape all over it.
I actually don't think I'll look too out of place. It's Lady Gaga, after all.