There you are, standing on a thick slab of well-trod concrete, the kind that makes an attractive *clop* with the slightest of steps. A warm breeze tugs at your trench coat and guides a slow river of slate grey clouds so low across the sky that if you had a ladder you just might be able to reach your hand into the misty current.
A sudden gust threatens to take away your expertly chosen and expertly worn Fedora. You spin to shield yourself; that’s when you notice her, standing at the other end of the platform – watching you. She has decidedly French or perhaps Eastern European features. The gust slowly lifts the skirt of her otherwise form fitting red dress, like a curtain being raised to reveal…legs…and more legs.
“My God!”, you exclaim. “They must go all the way up!”
The skirt continues to lift.
“Do they connect at the neck?”, you wonder.
“Aaaaaall aboooooard!”, someone shouts.
There you are, sitting on a large wooden bench in the middle of a marble room that smells like a curious mix of boys locker room, and Mediterranean restaurant; an environment unaided by the elderly gentleman to your left who farts every 30 seconds, as if it’s being regulated by quartz.
The room is populated by third-tier Breaking Bad characters, and if there is a woman in a red dress, it’s likely maternity-wear, and further ruined by the questionably aged and apparently unquenchable child who refuses to STOP. MAKING. EYE CONTACT.
*tok *tok *tok *tok *tok *tok *tok *tok
Between the frenzied suckling and flatulating, you could almost be convinced that you’ve stumbled upon some body function themed art installation. Surely someone will start belching lines from Pale Fire.
The intercom cracks, and whatever creature is on the other end makes barking sounds. No one knows WTF is going on, but the general feeling in the room is to line up and wait. It’s at this point, when everyone is standing around looking at each other, that you start to panic.
Perhaps this isn’t the train station after all. Isn’t this how they slaughter cows? Is this the beginning to the worst ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ party ever?
To your relief, the line starts to move, and a half hour later you are at the back of the train. A man yells “Allllll…”, begins a coughing fit, and eventually just waves you on-board.
The People (Fantasy)
As you wend your way deeper into the gilt hallways of the lavish locomotive, you meet all sorts of people: adventurers with Amazonian tales of intrigue, socialites who smoke using cigarette holders and abuse the word ‘marvelous’, and academics who tell you of curious beetle specimens they are to study in Madagascar.
And of course there is the love interest…
Where DID she go?
The People (Reality)
The first calamity you will encounter on a train is the dreaded Hossferatu. The Hossferatu is a social vampire who preys on other travelers, bleeding them dry with unsolicited hillbilly wisdom and endless personal anecdotes.
Hossferatu tend to cluster and compete for resources by one-upping each other’s stories, or by asking mind-numbing geographical questions in an attempt to stump one another.
(Hossferatu A is feeding on nearby passengers)
“…Oh yeah, I used to go all up and down the 15 back when I was driving for McClintock…”
(Hossferatu B challenges A by asking a pointless geographical question)
“15, now is that the one that goes out there by Lewiston?”
(Hossferatu A momentarily pauses, recognizing the formal challenge. If he doesn’t know, or gets the answer wrong, he will lose his prey to Hoss B.)
“No…no you’re thinking of the 90. 15 runs south out past Hollow Top.”
(Hossferatu A is successful. Hossferatu B will have to go hungry tonight.)
These passengers pretend they’re not listening to the conversation until they see an opportunity to be insufferable; for instance when two Hossferatu are stumped, and can’t remember the name of a city. Suddenly a Rainman will blurt out the answer, destroying the illusion that they aren’t paying attention and aren’t a total dick-toaster.
Everyone else just stares out the window contemplating death, and the fact that coach apparently doesn’t entitle you to wifi.
After spending an hour or two discussing Amazonian natives with your new friends, the notorious Adventurer Lance Huntington, the beautiful socialite Greta Spendpenny, and Professor Emeritus Dr. Witwhittle, you make your way to the dining car.
White napkins adorn rich Mahogany tables, while chandeliers gently dance, throwing nebulas of sparkling golden light onto the ceiling from the sweeping and twilit vistas outside.
There she is – the giraffentine woman from before – she’s sitting at a table alone, sipping a cocktail. You saunter over…
“Do you mind?”, you say.
“Please”, she replies.
You sit down and silently motion with your index finger to the waiter that you’ll have a 1946 Francis Darroze Bas – Armagnac Chateau de Lasserrade; it’s an excellent choice, and he bristles with approval.
“So tell me”, you say – moving your lips much more than necessary. “Where are you from?
“I’m probably French, or maybe Eastern European” she says.
“I can’t be certain you see, as my Mother was a traveling contortionist and sword swallower, who saw fit to take me from land to land, educating me in the art of pleasure, and the carnal desires of men. I’ve never known exactly where I come from, or where I’m going. I just ride trains endlessly searching for the right man to bestow my coital endowments upon.”
“Here you are sir”, the waiter says, setting down the glass.
You quickly drain it, hand it back, and then spin your finger in the universal sign for “Keep it coming.”
“Cc….coital…endowments you say?”
“I like it European style…”
You haven’t the slightest clue what that means – but you know you want it.
“I like to be naked when I do it”, you offer.
“I can’t get pregnant”, she whispers.
Something lurches in your pants, and you grab the table top to steady yourself. Wait…it’s your phone. It’s vibrating.
“Excuse me” you say with a nod.
It’s a text from your wife…
“Hello, I hope you are well as I am. I need to confess my fantasy: should you run into a beautiful French woman (Eastern European would also be acceptable) I want you to go for it. You see, it would be a shame for such a formidably girthed and equine lover such as you are to be wasted on my humble sexual needs.
-Yours Truly, Clarita.”
Keep it coming indeed…
Dining on a train is like going to an All-You-CAN’T-Eat Buffet, and by that I mean it’s Buffet quality food, and you can’t eat it.
I don’t think this is due to a lack of effort on the part of the Chef, but an allocation of resources – or lack thereof. What you end up with is a meal that some poor Chef has had to MacGyver together out of food scraps purchased from a shady back-alley grocery store ran by an even shadier 2 foot fellow who goes by the name of Mr. Not-a-racoon-er-son.
You can also forget your fantasy of quietly sitting alone and eating while breath taking scenery whips by. If you are alone, you will be placed into the last empty seat with a group of strangers, or if you’re extra unfortunate, a family.
Enjoy your “romantic dinner” of Braised Question Mark with the family that doesn’t stop their kid from screaming.
Sleeping Accommodations (Fantasy)
Full of Armagnac and Duck meat, you lead your love interest back to your sleeper car for a “night cap”. There under the moonlight, your bodies sicken the heavens with your exotic copulations. French style, Eastern European style – you do it all.
Panicked concierge rush up and down the halls – afraid in their admirably simple understanding of the world – that your lovemaking may shake the train off the very rails that it so steadily rides upon. A few of them faint as your new lover reaches her easily attained and unquestionably authentic climax.
“Marvelous! Simply marvelous!”
Sleeping Accommodations (Reality)
If you would like to purchase a closet they are available starting at like $350, which means you’ll be trying to sleep on a seat in coach. It will not work. You will go without sleep your entire trip.
The Bathroom (Reality)
There is no fantasy of using the bathroom on a train to my knowledge. If I’m wrong, someone let me know.
That said, bathrooms on trains are like using a Honeybucket while it’s strapped to the flat-bed of a monster truck. God help you if you try and navigate this lavarinth after a few drinks.
Who designed this thing, Jigsaw?
It was such a difficult situation that at one point I literally* just gave up and started throwing my poop at the toilet like a goddamn monkey playing Skee-ball.
You assume you’ll eventually get somewhere.
TRAINS ARE SLOW AS F*CK
For trips under 6 hours, it might be ok. Otherwise…