The best thing about mobile technology is that it affords me another excuse for looking like a total prick in public. I have many excuses for this, but the simple pleasure of enjoying a one woman silent disco on a tram stop is my current favourite.
On a recent occasion I noticed a very smartly dressed, middle aged woman smiling at me whilst I was bopping along. I saw her lips move, unplugged my ears, and asked her what was up.
“You look like you’re having fun, what are you listening to?” This lady was very, very posh. Her teeth were perfect, sparkly, mouth diamonds.
“Erm… a mix of dubstep that my friend made.” I felt a bit uncomfortable, as if I’d been caught smoking in the grounds of a hospital.
“Oh, yes, the dubstep. My son listens to that, he’s 19.” I cringed. I’m 31 and am becoming more and more aware of the need to grow up.
“Would you like an ear?” I offered my earphone, quite confident she’d say no.
A brief look of contemplation crossed her face. She had the expression of a woman who had recently resolved to try new things and was now faced with the dilemma of living that decision in a very minute and achievable way.
She took the ear phone and looked at it. “I just push it right in my ear?”
“Yes. Not too hard.” And she did.
If you’ve ever shared headphones with anyone, you’ll be aware than you have to stand very close to them. If you’ve ever shared headphones with a stranger, you’ll be aware it’s very weird.
In her designer, heeled boots she was a good four inches taller than stumpy little me and she smelled of wonderful, unaffordable perfume. She blinked and looked confused as the music set to work killing her aural cilia. I felt embarrassed; I wanted to tell her that I am university educated, that I read books, that I watch documentaries and only get involved with dubstep when I think nobody is listening.
The tram came and we shuffled on, still technologically joined by the ear.
“I’m not sure I like it very much.” She said apologetically and a little bit loudly. I laughed and pressed the skip button on my iPod. The next tune up was Perfect Day, sung by Lou Reed. “Oh! I love this one!” She said with genuine joy.
We both stared out the window and listened to Lou Reed, I felt like I was unwittingly putting the moves on a posh lady. I love talking to strangers, but listening to romantic songs whilst sitting with heads tilted together like teenagers… not so much.
Then she started singing along.
At this point, I felt like I had two options. Option one: retract my earphone and move seats. Option two: join in.
I joined in.
A guy reading a Kindle looked at us with annoyance, and we both burst out laughing. It was one of those silly, human moments that you cannot plan and you never forget. As the song finished we approached my stop.
“This is me.” I said, removing my half of the ear phones. She removed hers.
“I enjoyed that, I think I’ll get an iPod for Christmas. I might get some dubsteps on there!” I laughed and extended my hand.
“I’m Kat. Nice to have shared an ear with you!” She shook my hand and told me her name was Louise. I waved at her as the tram pulled away and she waved back enthusiastically.
On Christmas morning, surrounded by my family, I thought about Louise and wondered whether she did actually get an iPod with her son’s music on it.
I expect I’ll never know.