My mom and I had just gotten on the train when I spotted a space on the bench seat only big enough for my mother to sit in. I said, “go on and sit down,” to my mother. She sat and the three people on the seat moved along a bit (you know what people do when they want to pretend to be considerate). I smiled at them and said, “don’t worry.”

With the three persons sitting still a bit apart from each other, my mother was convinced that they could make room for me, too, so she said, “you can sit, too,” patting on the space to her right. And I said, “I’m fine,” because the space still looked a bit small (I have a big body) and a 30-minute ride, seated in that little space, would not be much better than one standing. But my mom said, “but room has been made for you. Come on and sit.” And the three persons moved even a bit farther to make more room for me, while not looking at me or my mother. I thought that was a bit offensive.

I really didn’t want to sit. But I didn’t want to embarrass the persons who had made room for me, either. So I quickly decided to act evil, so that it would be clear to everyone that the awkwardness was my fault, not their well-intentioned mistake. So I said, jokingly, “no, mom. I would have to curl up a bit and keep my arms in front in that small space if I sat. Really, don’t worry.”

Immediately, one of the persons on the seat stood up and left, without a word (not to mention any smile), into another car. Then the rest of the people on the seat immediately moved along toward the now empty area, and now, the space I was being offered was twice as big as a regular seat. I was embarrassed. And apparently, my mom was embarrassed, too. She looked like she was almost starting to cry. She looked at me and whispered, saying, “please sit down.” I was very pissed off. I looked at her face and, without saying anything, frowned, trying to show her how much I didn’t appreciate her trying to make me do this——sit down in that now very spacious space that was not, and had never been, necessary. She looked down, burying her face into my coat she was carrying.

Less than a minute later, she looked up. I was starting to feel bad for her, although I was still angry. I asked her, “do you want me to sit down?” And she said, “yes.” So I sat.

By the time we arrived at our station, everyone else on the seat had gotten off the train. I was still pissed. We left the station, bought some food at a store near it, and came home.

I still don’t know how to put my anger into words. I don’t even know if what I did was wrong. I had never felt that embarrassed.

Masaki C. Matsumoto
A queer writer and YouTuber. UChicago MA dropout. My preferred pronouns are they/them. Read more

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