Today I was reading my book, enjoying the peaceful solitude of a mostly empty 3:30pmish El train going home. Then, along with the cold wind, loud voices disturbed me, as a group of women came in from the Merchandise Mart stop. So loud. I prescribe to the keep your mouth shut or at least whisper on the train rule. “Blah, blah, blah, my boyfriend, blah, and then she said, blah, blah, my manager said, blah, blah.” There was one of them who was louder than the rest of course. There’s always one, louder and a little shriller than the rest, something about their tone and volume that sounds theatrical, something that suggests that maybe talking too loud on trains satisfies their exhibitionistic tendencies. Or am I just projecting? Anyway, they stop talking for a second and I’m surprised so I glance over and I see the loudest one sitting with her arms crossed and she looks kind of pissed, and then she suddenly shouts, “God, I hate Charlize Theron, don’t you???!!!” Silence again for a second, then they all start talking at once, passionately:

“ She’s so marginal! I don’t even think about her!”

“ Oh, God, Bigger Vance? You know when her dad died in the movie? Me and my girlfriend laughed so hard!!!!”

“What’s the deal with her? She’s not so special!!!”

”Not pretty at all!!!”

And then something weird happened. They all stopped talking. I looked over again and they were just sitting there, not looking at each other, sitting in what looked like uncomfortable silence. Or maybe they were just thinking about how much they hated Charlize Theron? They stayed silent for a full three stops until they got off at the Southport stop. Wow! Now I know! Whenever people are talking too loud on the train I’ll just shout out, “Don’t you hate Charlize Theron???!!!”

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