Tuesday, October 4, 2005

El Sighting

A guy about sixty, wearing a red T-shirt and jean shorts, gets on the el and sits down on one of those inward-facing seats next to the door. My eye is drawn to something dangling from a leather strap around his neck. It takes me a moment to make it out: a nail clipper. I look to his fingernails: gnawed down about two-thirds past the cuticle. He spends the rest of the trip chewing on one stumpy nail then moving to the next.

There’s a line in William Kennedy’ Ironweed about someone chewing with “insatiable revulsion.” But he doesn’t look revolted, so I guess the revulsion is mine.