There’s a certain comfort in close physical contact with a special person. The feel of hot breath on your neck. Your bodies fitting together like two spoons. It just feels so nice and secure. At that moment, life couldn’t be any better, right? But NOT if you find yourself spooning a complete stranger on public transport in London.
The London Underground is notorious for being overcrowded at peak times. Personal space is at a premium, so you learn to make allowances. Did she mean to brush against my butt cheek? Surely not. Does he mind me reading his text message over his shoulder? Okay, he does mind that. Sorry.
When the train carriage is packed and the doors close, sometimes you just have to accept that you have extremely limited personal space and you try to make the best of the one inch gap that you’ve managed to acquire for yourself with some subtle jostling. But there are still rules. These rules are not written down, nor are they legal requirements. But everyone knows them.
At least almost everyone. Every so often, some people seem slightly too comfortable with the close proximity. Most girls I know have had some experience of this. I always feel quite subconscious when I am towering over a girl on a crowded Tube train, like a bear hugging a tree. A tree that smells nice. Surely she must feel uncomfortable with her face in my armpit? But then, just maybe, I could be the lucky recipient of a girl taken over by the Lynx effect. Damn it, need to get that thought out of my mind quickly, she might notice…
But I had never been on the receiving end of such unreasonable, and slightly disturbing behaviour, until Friday. I only had a short one stop journey to make and just managed to squeeze myself on to the train, squashed up against a middle-aged, overweight man with his back to me. The doors closed and I expected the communal shuffling to open up some more space for me. But he didn’t move. I was left cupping his ample butt-cheeks with my front gentleman’s area, my chest made a pillow for his head and my arms were stretched around him to grab a metal pole for support. No, I don’t mean a Polish Iron Maiden fan, I meant a bar made of metal.
Whenever I’ve been faced with such a scenario, no matter how cramped the carriage was, I always managed to shuffle forward a little, even if it was centimetres. Why wouldn’t you? This guy had a couple of inches spare but seemed reluctant to move closer to the lady in front of him.
I couldn’t move. When I tried, it seemed like I was ‘grinding’ with him. The more I thought that this situation was wrong, the more I kept hearing R. Kelly’s finest song in my head and I felt like I was going to vomit on his shoulder. Bet he would have moved then.
Finally, my stop arrived, and our unwarranted spooning embrace had to end. That was the longest three minutes of my life. It was not the kind of morning glory that I would wish for.