Every Tuesday, my friend (and newly minted fellow blogger!) James and I take the train home together on our way to a religious meeting. It works out for the fiance because he gets more time after work to get things done, for me because I get a ride and don’t have to commute alone, and James because he gets to be dazzled by my charm and regaled with my wit. (Right, James?)
The thing is, James and I meet at Penn Station. In fact, we meet on the train. And more often than not, I get there first.
This means I am forced to commit one of the gravest public transportation annoyances ever: seat saving.
The first time I got there first and someone asked to sit next to me, I panicked. I buckled under society’s pressure and let her sit next to me. When James arrived on the train, he looked perplexed, I explained quickly, and he shuffled off to find another seat. I had failed. And that occasion haunted me.
Later, James informed me that I should have just said my husband was sitting there. Duh. James actually offered to be my husband on one other occasion. Remember the Grand Lux Cafe Debacle of 2010? (And let’s be real, who doesn’t?) When I was on the phone with Travis, James offered his services in case I wanted “to put my husband on the phone.” What a guy. But I digress.
So from then on, I decided I would just say my husband was sitting there. “Husband” has a certain weight to it. You’ve said vows. Signed papers. Paid an alarming amount of money to have a party.
“Boyfriend” sounds fleeting, and “fiance” is just a really cumbersome word. “Friend”? Well, you can just forget about saving a seat on a crowded train for your Johnny-Come-Lately friend.
Husband is a bond that cannot be broken by even the most harried commuter. So the plan was decided.
I had actually used this tactic with great success once before. A girl tried to sit by me, I said my husband was on his way, she said OK and moved on down the car.
Then last night happened. Again, a woman wanted to sit by me, I said I was saving the seat for my husband, she said OK and sat right behind me.
I tried to text James to warn him that we were now man and wife, but he arrived as I was mid-text. And since I know for a fact that you can hear the conversations of people sitting anywhere in your car, it wasn’t like I could just tell him. Besides, it wasn’t like he was going to say something like, “Don’t you also enjoy being unmarried?” We could pull this off.
Or maybe not. Suddenly everything we said seemed rife with evidence that we were not, in fact, married.
“I liked your blog post today.”
Oh, crap, do married people discuss each others blogs? No, no, be cool, the fiance and I talk about my blog sometimes, we’re good.
“How much does your gym membership cost?”
Ok, yeah, if we were married we would probably go to the same gym. Or, you know, be aware of how our household income was being allocated.
Yup, yup, in hindsight I see where I blew that one.
I mean, we discussed James taking the fiance suit shopping for our wedding. We could not have been less married unless James actually did ask me how I enjoyed life out of wedlock.
I kept waiting for the woman behind me to loom up over the seat, shove a bony finger in my face, and growl, “Heeeeey, you’re not married at all, are you?!”
I even started working out a response on my head.
“Oh, um, well, no, not married married, but we’re, um, engaged! Yeah, that’s it! That’s why we don’t know what’s going on in each other’s lives! Engaged people don’t always live together, you know! Or…talk… regularly…but yeah, engaged, I just said ‘husband’ to save time and oh my God I am so so so sorry!”
It would not have ended well. Fortunately, if the woman deduced that we were not in love, she consoled herself with the fact that at least we were good friends, and maybe that’s a good enough reason to save a seat after all.
Or at the very least, our marriage was clearly in trouble and maybe I had enough to deal with without her pointing out the holes in our relationship.
I’m not saying I won’t continue to use this excuse. It has worked without incident so far, and I like those odds. But maybe next time I won’t use the expression “for the sake of our friendship” during our conversation.