Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dispatches from the Desert of the Real #1: The bus.

All right this isn't my normal comicbook ramblings and ravings and for that I apologize, but I had to get his out somewhere before memory fades and I lose all track of yet another instance in life that struck me surreal as all hell.

See, my life has these moments. Not good moments per se, nor even bad, but what they can be called is weird. Really, really weird. And today certainly qualifies as one of the stranger ones I've had in a while. Let me set the scene for you.

I work night shifts at an office in the downtown core. Parking underground costs money I do not wish to spend, and parking on the street just gets me paranoid so I've settled on the compromise of public transit. After I shower, dress, and grab a snack I take up my Bag of Holding, slip the iPod on and head down to the corner bus stop to catch my ride to work. A simple enough routine, though sometimes complicated by the usual vagaries of public transportation. Today was a bit different however, as I'd lent my iPod to my brother on Friday for his night shift job so he could listen to some tunes and podcasts, and I hadn't yet called to collect it. I was just going to hop the bus and ride, maybe read one of my Marvel Comics Essentials trades on the way to work, so I didn't think anything of it.

I get to the corner stop and begin to wait, a few other folk milling about next to the glass enclosure on the corner. As I do a young woman ambles up towards me, conversing on a cell phone. Now please understand, I am no eavesdropper. It's never my intent to listen in on someone's conversation. For the most part I was drifting along in my day to day haze of thought, thinking about how cool a Michael Jai White/Tony Jaa Power Man & Iron Fist movie would be and who the villain would be, when gradually the conversation began to impose itself on my thought processes. This woman was not speaking at a private, semi-murmur 'I'm-in-a-public-place-and-am-talking-about-private-stuff' tone. She was at her normal speaking voice, which carried quite well.

Over the course of (her side) of the conversation I learned that her friend Mary was in jail. Apparently there'd been a bit of a fracas with the local constabulary and 'the crazy bitch' was now locked up in jail. Frankly she'd seen the writing on the wall for some time, as Mary had her issues with certain controlled substances and a boyfriend that was, apparently 'a total psycho'. Details of the arrest (learned second-hand from a friend of a friend) were discussed, as well as the possibility of her being out on bail. All this said without a trace of self-consciousness, not even a casual look over the shoulder to see if anyone might be listening in. My eyes remained locked up the street for some sign of the bus, which gradually approached. I got on board and prepared for a quieter ride, as surely the confines of the bus would have her speak at a reduced volume.

Apparently not.

As the bus ride began the topic began to gradually shift to another topic, one in which the young lady and her friend began to discuss something. . .else. It took my sleep-addled brain a few moments to process the babble, but gradually it became clear.

". . .well how long does he usually last. . .?" a giggle.

". . .it must be because you're tight."

For a moment my brain had nothing. Then the little troll that handles my perversion got back from his coffee break and connected the dots for me. Oh shit. There's no way. There's no way they're talking about--

'. . .you're on birth control right? At least tell me you're on birth control."

--yep, they're talking about sex all right. Sex. On a public bus. Right across the aisle from me. With all the Nimoyian stamina I can muster from my tired frame I somehow manage to lock my facial features into a neutral expression.

". . .well the pill, the pill's okay but it makes you fat. I swear. I seen a couple of my friends take it and they kinda ballooned. Me, I'm on the patch. It's making me thinner and my boobs bigger. . .yeah, my boobs are huge now."

I thank JesusAllahBuddha that I decided not to crack open the Red Bull in my bag, for I most assuredly would have done a spit-take all over the back of the head of the sweet-looking older woman sitting in front of me. Again, this woman is making no effort to conceal her conversation. As far as she's concerned, the contents of this phone call are as safe and secure as that of a church confessional, as though some bubble of inaudibility is trailing her and ensuring that none of us can hear her speaking at a normal tone of volume within a confined space.

". . .hm? Oh, about a 34C now. Getting bigger too. What's the bra size after C?"

I am dying. I am literally dying. I run a hand along my mouth, desperately trying to hold on. I share a glimpse with a woman sitting across the aisle from me and we both exchange a single telepathic message of 'What. The. Fuck?' I'm torn between my desire for decorum and my morbid curiosity to see just how far this can go.

". . .dude, dude, you totally need to look after that shit. You can't be having a kid that has like sixteen years between you. You need it to be like eighteen, twenty, maybe thirty years. . .dude I'm 19." that last said with the conviction of a veteran of a thousand psychic wars.

I sit there, gobsmacked, shaking my head a little as the bus comes to a stop. She rises, and walks out the door, continuing to hold court with her friend and talking up the street as she walks on and the bus pulls away from the curb. For a brief moment in time I looked through a window into an entirely different world, one that is as alien to my way of thinking as the sands of Tatooine or Barsoom. It was amazing, it was astounding, and most of all it was goddamnned weird.

This is my life. God but I love it so.


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