If only I'd asked what the word "monorail" meant

Why didn’t I just ask someone what the word “monorail” meant?
That is a good question and one that I’m not sure I know the answer to. The truth is that I let it get away from me, I let the world overwhelm me and now I’m sorry. Not that I’ll ever tell anyone except you, diary. Here’s hoping that tiny novelty lock holds.
When was the first time I heard the word “monorail”? It must have been during my mayoral campaign. One of the attractive, smaller television reporters asked me whether I supported it or not. And I don’t know what it was but the second she said that word there was a sound in my head, like the sound the television makes at three in the morning after the national anthem. Static. This sound in my head was just like static. Also, I think I smelled electricity.
My handler Jim was not paying attention. Perhaps he was looking at a woman or wandered off to wash his hands. I can’t remember now. His absence might have had something to do with the smell of electricity in the air.
So I looked to the people in that press conference at the Marriott, I mean I really looked at them. I think they were getting a little uncomfortable with the fact that I wasn’t talking. But I kept staring and praying that I could see into their minds and figure out whether or not I supported something I’d never heard of. I had already forgotten the word “monorail”, what with being overwhelmed by the strong stench of electricity and all.
Anyway, I couldn’t read their minds. And one man with curly hair, who I think was a supporter, stood up and pointed to his ear.
“Did you hear the question?” He asked.
“Is your ear all right?” I asked back, focusing on his movements, rather than what was coming out of his mouth.
And then the small reporter repeated her question, which I thought was a little rude since I was having such an intense moment with the curly-haired voter. And in my eyes, she became a little less attractive.
“I am against it.” I said, making a fist and placing it against the podium gently. Why did I choose against? I wish I knew how to answer that. Maybe because no always seems easier than yes.
And saying no made half the room at the press conference happy. Which is not terrible odds for a politician. If I had ever seen Jim the handler again I think he would have been proud.
I repeated that I was against the monorail at several more campaign stops that day, once to a man standing next to me at a urinal. Then he tried to debate me, so I moved down a urinal.
I could have asked someone that night. Why didn’t I? Maybe, Diary, it was because I was too proud.
Couldn’t I have learned in context? I wish I could have, but when I was a child I was in a bike accident where I lost my sense of context, as well as my sense of smell. Which makes the electric smell when I heard the word “monorail” even more troubling.
By the next day, I was in too deep. My phone started ringing, there were reporters knocking on my door. People wanted to know what I thought about the monorail. The sense of shame was horrifying. My stomach and colon were a mess for weeks. Worse than burning oil fields.
Didn’t I see the pictures? They were everywhere, pictures of me looking angry right next to pictures of the train. But I didn’t understand, I couldn’t make the connection. At first, I thought the train was just going through the pictures, that the monorail was somewhere in the background, but then I realized that the monorail must be something on the train. Which is when I purchased the magnifying glass, so I could stare at newspaper photos looking in those tiny train windows for clues, but all I could see was smudged ink.
As time went on, all people wanted to know about was the monorail. Where was the monorail? What about the monorail? Had I talked to the monorail? Diary, I started to hate the monorail. I started to hate it with all of my guts. At staff meetings I would slap my hands against my desk when anyone questioned my monorail position. I’d point angrily and gesture inappropriately. I wish I could tell them that it was my own fear that was making me do that. I wish I could take all of those threats back.
But it’s too late. If only I’d asked, we could have had a monorail. Which would have been great, now that I know that “mono” means “one” while “rail” means “train”.
I would have loved that “one train”. It would have been great in this city. I would have ridden it for hours, my head pressed heavily against the glass, and watching Seattle whirl by at a thousand miles per hour.


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