"Is this seat taken?"
The train station was rather empty, and perhaps it was my fault for asking to share a bench rather than walk 20 meters to grab a solo space. The lady looked up at me, said nothing but scooted to the side. In retrospect, it was obvious she didn't want company - she sat right smack in the middle of the bench, arms crossed and head lowered as if deep in thought - but hey, I didn't major in body language at college.
Half a minute went by and there was still no train in sight. I mused aloud that it was a slow day. The lady looked over and smiled reluctantly. Restless, I took out my Nintendo DS for a quick game. I booted up Nintendogs and found my cute little furball staring up at me. Then she ran away.
I blew into the mic to get a reaction from her. No effect. I whispered her name for her to come back. It went undetected. I raised my voice a little. Still no response. I inwardly cursed my stupidity for thinking it funny to pick a long name instead of Lucky, or Spot, or "Pffffttt." I raised my voice once more.
"Princess Rainbow Fluffy Wuffy Buttercup!"
The lady glanced at me, eyebrows raised. "Sorry, it's a game. I'm talking to it," I explained. The train couldn't come soon enough.
I recall when hands-free sets were the bane of yesteryear. Someone in the same room would let out a cheerful "hello," and before you could turn around and reply he'd continue with his phone conversation, oblivious to your presence. Would I ever reach that level of comfort with voice-activated DS games?
"Sit," I told Princess Rainbow Fluffy Wuffy Buttercup one day while gripping onto the handrail in a train during peak hours. She rolled over. "Sit," I repeated firmly. She finally sat. So did a little old lady who took the seat directly in front of me and eyed me curiously.
I entered my precious pooch in a dog show and got her to obey my every command. "Beg," "Roll over," "Jump!" I ordered. She won the trial and I felt every bit the proud owner. Then the screen flickered out; my battery was flat.
As I returned the handheld to my bag, I became aware of the sudden silence around me. One or two of the passengers looked away hurriedly when I glance in their direction, and some of the younger kids giggled and whispered to each other.
I convinced myself I was being a little too sensitive.