Pacing Putain

It was the sort of thing one thought could only be seen in the movies—the type of person who actually paces. In public. As though they’re getting somewhere by engaging in such a bombastic act. But that’s precisely what she was doing at this very moment. This girl, wearing penny loafers and pants that were “cropped” (they were too long to be called “capri”), seemed “unaware” of how infuriating she was being as she traveled up and down the train platform, annoying the shit out of everyone else who was waiting. Already anxious as it was without this “unwitting” knave’s energy adding to the cauldron of restlessness. Or was it only Thérèse who was irked? How could she not be? Not only had she been waiting for the past thirty minutes for a train that would not come, she had also been dumped that very morning by Alphonse, likely so he could be with a vexing little twit just like this one. A twit who had the audacity to wear penny loafers and cropped pants, in addition to a three-quarter-length sleeve shirt with thin black-and-white stripes—all rounded out by a black pageboy hat. It was as though she was deliberately trying to go for a botched version of Jean Seberg in Breathless. That’s what every fuckin’ basique who came to Paris wanted to look like. 

Either that, or it was a slap a beret on and voilà!, they were meant to be some “ultra-fey” manic pixie dream girl. But berets can’t polish turds. And that’s what this pacer was. Doing her “effortless” best to shine bright like unwanted rays of sunlight in your eyes. If she had been that, Thérèse surely would have been blinded by now.

Standing stock-still as she watched in awe of how of how oblivious someone could be to the irritation they were causing, Thérèse resisted every urge inside of her crying out to just trip the bitch. To ignore the internal chant inside her mind that kept screaming, Make her pay, make her pay, make her pay. And what would even constitute “making her pay”? Smacking her across her angular, slack-jawed face? Throwing the bottle of water in her hand at the salope’s head? But, of course, that wouldn’t be appropriate, now would it? Violated the allegedly strict confines of “good decorum.” And yet, infecting the entire public space with one’s nervous aura somehow didn’t. Which is exactly why Penny Loafer—that’s what Thérèse had decided to call her in lieu of “pacing putain”—was able to do so without consequence. It wasn’t “illegal” to be annoying. And all merely because it was within the accepted limits of how bothersome a person was tacitly “permitted” to be based on an established set of “societal norms.” What a load of merde, Thérèse thought. So smoking in public was banned, but now, it seemed every other truly (and psychologically) harmful behavior was a free-for-all?

Oh, what Thérèse wouldn’t give for a cigarette right now to calm her down. And no, vaping was never going to cut it. Shit, she might even give her phone number to Penny Loafer and offer to hang out if it meant she could finagle the pacifier of a cigarette. But no, she must continue to be subjected to Penny Loafer’s incessant pacing—up and down, up and down. Why couldn’t she at least go the length of the platform instead of lingering in Thérèse’s line of vision, whether central or peripheral? There were a few times when Thérèse considered leaving the area herself, but then thought better of it. She had been here first (then again, as Native Americans could attest, that didn’t really mean anything to some people). And even if that wasn’t a good enough reason, the fact was: this was the most ideal spot. Not only because it would afford an easy egress into the vessel when the cutthroat bum-rush happened, but because it was also situated right near the screen that kept informing her the train was retardé (for the only way that word is ever acceptable now is if it’s referring to the French definition, therefore spelled with that extra letter). 

The mechanical woman over the intercom kept announcing something about a signal somewhere being fucked. Business as usual for the RER B. Yet it had been so long since Thérèse had needed to take this particular train, which always caused an amassing of people to appear on the platform as they waited for Godot. And, as Thérèse had forgotten, there was a surfeit of reasons to bow to the aphorism, “Hell is other people.” 

Yet, for causes perhaps unknown even to Thérèse, something about Penny Loafer was getting on her nerves the most. How could none of those already-exasperated commuters not see her ultimately self-involved comportment and resist the temptation to club her? For it was, indeed, very self-involved to presume to take up that much space when seeing how crowded and cramped it was all around. Maybe that’s what was really getting to Thérèse about this particular commuter cunt. Or would-be commuter cunt. Because you can’t truly be deemed a commuter when you’re “just visiting.” And Penny Loafer was very clearly doing exactly that. No one else would have the gall to dress how she did unless they were a tourist posing as a resident. That’s when it struck Thérèse to make Penny Loafer experience the ultimate example of “just visiting.” 

Before her mind caught up to what her body was doing, Thérèse could see herself as though watching from up above while she ran toward Penny Loafer at full-force and pushed her over the edge of the platform just as the train was finally arriving. With that, Thérèse had put a stop to the pacing. Forever. Punched Penny Loafer’s ticket early for her. And, although she expected to be apprehended for her “crime,” she was quite surprised to find that all those who had been waiting next to or near Penny Loafer proceeded to applaud Thérèse’s bold, “non sequitur” act. As though she had done what they were unwilling to sacrifice their own lives for. 

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