These two kids dressed to catch home runs at Wrigley, they’re lying on the seats behind me, on the Red Line. One’s reading—out loud—the train’s overhead advertising; the other, he asks, “Is it called the ‘L’ because it’s elevated, or because it’s electric?”

His friend—the one reading out loud the bankruptcy and divorce lawyer notices, the Instant Loan notices, the free HIV testing notices, the latest HBO series on DVD notices, and the “Don’t be Jack” CTA notices for aspiring mass-transit criminals—what the ‘L’ means, he doesn’t know.

I’ve got the urge to turn and tell them…

But what’s the point?
What does it matter?
To validate my existence?

These two kids, if you’re not looking at them, they’re young enough to sound like girls. But their sound is the sound of girls who pick up drinking and smoking way too early in life.

The sound, it’s got a slight raspy quality about it.
It’s the sound of age before maturity—but only when emanated from teenage girls…

Hearing it, that sound, takes me back fourteen years—to one particular petite high school blonde…she was a pom-pom girl.

And the pom-pom girls, they were always cuter than the cheerleaders...

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