Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Woman in the Propeller Beanie

At about 5:30 this afternoon, we were riding the CTA Green Line westbound from downtown Chicago, headed for the Oak Park station in Oak Park, Illinois, an inner western suburb. Yuriko and I were sitting together; behind us was a young woman we'd noticed getting on at the State Street station, as we did. Behind her were Lilly and Ann.

The woman was noticeable because she was wearing a Bears jersey, sported face paint in Bears colors, and had probably been wearing a propeller beanie at some point during the day -- I think Bears colors, but I'm not sure only a few hours later. The propeller beanie hung on the back of her neck when we saw her.

Are propeller beanies the new thing at football games? Or a not-so-new thing? I wouldn't know, but I'm also fairly sure I'd never actually seen anyone wearing a propeller beanie. Otherwise her Bears getup wasn't so strange. The Bears played the Panthers today at Soldier Field, and during the late afternoon in Millennium Park, we'd seen a lot of people in Bears jerseys and t-shirts and so on (but no other propeller beanies).

The propeller-beanie woman was on her phone, and mostly I wasn't paying attention. But then she said, "My flight is at 7. I think this train will get me to O'Hare by 6."

Odd. I thought about that for a moment or two, and then I heard her say, "I didn't know you felt that way." She was quiet for a while, and then she said it again. She must have hung up after that, but in any case the next thing I knew, I heard her crying. Did someone dump her over the phone? It sounded that way, but you can't quite be sure.

It's useful to know at this point that the Green Line doesn't go to O'Hare. Not even close. So I wondered whether I should say something to her about that -- or did I misunderstand her? But before I'd decided anything, she asked me, "Excuse me, does this train go to O'Hare?"

I turned and saw her face. The Bears face paint was tear-streaked. I told her no, the Blue Line goes to O'Hare. This is a Green Line train to Oak Park.

She asked if I was sure, and I said I was, pointing to the Green Line map in the car. "You need to go back downtown and catch a Blue Line train," I explained. I didn't much like bearing more bad news, but Oak Park is no place to be if you want to catch a plane.

She got off at the next stop. She had no luggage. Maybe she'd flown in just to see the game. Maybe she'd been expecting to see some now-former boyfriend at her destination. Impossible to know. All I knew for sure was she still had a propeller beanie hanging on the back of her neck.

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