A hassled, but together, mother steps onto the train and sits with her pink-clad daughter in the empty seat in front of me. Daughter is of undertermined age, hovering somewhere between Dora the Explorah and her first Disney Princess crisis.
I have my earbuds in, so I just grin at them as they sit. I don't hear their conversation. I'm listening to Gogol Bordello sing about Musellini. Daughter refuses to sit and instead kneels in her seat facing backwards. Facing me. She clutches the bar as she watches the trees shoot by our window.
We make eye contact. She smiles broadly. She looks me over and moves on to silently examine other people in the train.
A conversation is nigh, I can feel it. I take out my earbuds and wait.
Daughter glances at mother. She leans in toward me, conspirationally. She says "Are you a monster?"
Mother and I are both taken by surprise. Mother now makes eyecontact with me to quickly determine what manner of apology she needs to craft.
I signal to her that no apology is necessary, and I unleash my wide, most honored grin.
"Why would you say that?" I ask daughter.
"I think you are a monster." says daughter. She's grinning broadly. One giant sugar-cube of a tooth is jutting out of her mouth now... others are nigh. I notice she has a temporary tattoo of a peacock on the back of her hand.
"Well, I suppose I am." I said, and daughter was tremendously pleased with herself. I said "Do you think I'm a good monster or a bad one?"
Daughter had to think about this. She looked around the train car. She did not notice the other businessmen and businesswomen listening with rapture to our delightful conversation. She did not see their grandparent-ly grins or their furrowed brows of parental familiarity. I did. I was tremendously pleased with myself.
Daughter finally responded, thoughtfully. "You are a good monster. You breathe fire and you can fly but you don't eat people anymore."
I nodded my head proudly and gave her a confounded thumbs up.
Then she added. "and you don't have a tail. So that means you're nice now."
Like a thunderclap. There it was. Out of the mouths of babes, eh? Stunned, but not too stunned to laugh heartily at the situation, I said: "That's right. I am a nice person now. And so are you. But you must remember to always listen to your mother because she is the one who keeps bad monsters away from you."
Daughter nodded her head energetically and reached over to grip her mother's hand tightly. "Mom would never let me sit next to a bad monster. I know that."
Delighted, daughter sat down in her seat properly and played with the sparkles in her shirt until the next stop which turned out to be their destination. Moments before they disembarked, Mother looked over at me and smiled the smile of "thankyou" mixed with "I don't know who the hell you are, but..."
I nodded back.
An man with leathery skin and a rumpled newspaper then leaned over to me. He growled "that was fun!"
and three other people on the train car laughed discreetly in agreement.
Blushing hard, I returned my earbuds to their docked position in my brain-holes and fast-forwarded to some Everly Brothers.
It was fun.