Matthew Wollin captures it. I love this piece of writing:
Something of awkwardness pervades urban life in general, underwriting the briefest of glances and interactions with worlds of potential mishaps and misunderstandings. Subways in particular: Hi, I don’t know you, but that pole you’re holding for stability? Well, I need it too, and if I move at all I’m going to jump to second base with three strangers simultaneously, so can I just reach around you like we’re cuddling on the couch instead?
And no, I’m not checking you out, I promise, I’m actually trying to check out the person next to me by looking at the reflection in the window, which is why I’m going to super-casually look in the other direction at that mom with her kid—oh God, eye contact—and then look back quickly, and now we just made eye contact again because of course you’ve been watching me this whole time because you’re not an IDIOT like me, and now there’s no way you don’t think I’m checking you out, and now the person next to me also thinks that I’m checking you out so there’s no chance there, and that mom with the stroller that I stared at also thinks I’m a creepster, and oh, all of you just got off the train and I’m never going to see any of you in my life again and here I am alone.