Wednesday, April 28, 2004

On The Bus, Part 1

You only have a split second to make a decision of who to sit next to on the bus. The bus is a few minutes late and more than a half full, nary an empty row. The woman behind you with the curiously smelling duffel bag and wild grey hair already has her eye on a seat. You can tell because you can feel the heat emanating from her agitated body, her breath moist on your neck. Even bombarded with these sensations, your amazing brain has the capacity to divine that minutes ago, she had that disgusting egg and cheese Toaster Strudel. You suspect flatulence in her near future.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find a seatmate least likely to be annoying in your 45-minute trip to work. Choose wisely and you will be able to enjoy a short nap or read your favorite book. If you fail, it will be a hellish trip, an ominous start to your workday.

The task is difficult, video game-worthy, requiring super-honed senses and bullet reflexes. The man in the blue suit? Too fat and already visibly praying that nobody sits next to him. The woman with the flowery blouse? Possibly drowned in Chanel No.5. The scrawny teen with the "Anarchy Rules" t-shirt (a clever oxymoron) and the headphones? Bingo. He’ll be staring out the window the entire trip thinking about his cute little doggy and the funny pink hotdog that emerges from the dog’s shaft when it’s excited, the t-shirt merely badass posturing. This is your choice.

On the bus, we are all outwardly civilized, thinking deep, industrious thoughts in our staid work attire; only the occasional rebellious denim jacket, blue hair or cowboy boots in our midst. You feel a certain camaraderie with these rebels in your defiantly ratty underwear with the disintegrated waistband. You’re livin’ on the edge.

Inwardly, it is a battle of wills, over control of that last millimeter of vinyl between two passengers, of elbow space for reading, or the size of the crack of the window.

Once, I was locked in a desperate battle over control with a middle-aged Asian woman. There were still empty seats on this particular bus, so I was annoyed when she plopped herself next to me with her loathsome, fake Burberry bag. Doesn’t she know it’s all about the faux Coach baguettes? I could have confided to her about the sidewalk vendor in our neighborhood who had some fantastic "Dolci & Gabanos" and "Proda" merchandise, if not for the fact that she pulled out her USA Today and started reading it, the pages clearly invading my airspace.

I harrumphed to no avail. The daggers my eyes shot were deflected by her disinterest. So engaged, I opened the window despite the unseasonably cold weather just enough to create a mini-tornado. Oh, how I sniggered when she fought to keep her place in the paper. I did a mental jig when she finally decided to move to another seat. I relax into my seat, triumphant...

NEXT: On The Bus, Part 2