Last week as temperatures in Chicago plunged below 0, for the first time in my life, I surrendered myself wholly to the disturbingly warm embrace of a pre-heated CTA seat. These seats are universally avoided if possible as the nausea and general disorientation that accompany them can cause an immediate descent into madness. As your jeans melt into the seat and your legs begin perspiring, your mind begins to dwell on how a plastic seat in the middle of winter could possibly be this goddamn hot. A horrible stench accompanies such ponderings, as the heat awakens decade old dander and body odor buried mercifully deep in the plastic fibers.
The two circumstances that could instill such a lingering heat are equally disturbing. Either someone had been passing a singular, forceful and unrelenting fart for the entirety of a prolonged CTA trip or the persons butt was eternally that hot, completely impervious to the cold. I suppose the latter is ultimately preferred though the likelihood of a rash being partially responsible for that heat brings on its own set of concerns.
As I said most times this seat is vigrously ignored…but this time…this time, the heat beckoned and I obeyed. A siren song of human filth. A plastic cocoon sheltering me from the cold, wrapping me in its unholy stink. Swaddling me in Flaming Hot Cheetos dust and another person’s abnormal body heat likely caused by rash. Stroking my cheek with an equally putrid Jansport backpack worn carelessly by another dreg standing far too close. A Coca Cola bottle full of piss rolled purposefully by, it appeared the same temperature as the seat.
Did I feel physically ill the entire morning? Yes. Did my jeans feel as though a gelatin film had accumulated? Unquestionably. Was I warm for that 20 minute ride? Certainly.
It was unsettling and it was absolutely necessary.