I rode the bus home from work one Saturday evening, and there were a lot more crazies on the line than normal. On the first bus, the 40, I had to sit in the back, and this is never really advised, unless you want to talk. It’s kind of fair game back there, with the seats facing each other and all. Tonight an older fellow in a collared shirt, tie and slacks asked from across the open space between us what that gadget I was holding was. I told him it was my iPod.
“What is that? Does it hold music?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“How many songs does it hold?” he asked.
I told him I didn’t know, but that it was 8 GB. I’m sure that meant nothing to him because he then further inquired how one gets the song onto this iPod device. I explained to him there is a cord you put into your computer…and then trailed off in conversation and fiddled with my gadget. He got up to get off at the next stop, and I got up to move up toward the front of the bus to avoid further conversation, but that was a vain attempt.
I had to wait to walk up the aisle to the front of the bus because a trio of potentially cracked out friends were exiting the bus out the back door. Each one in the trio looked me in the face as they got off the bus and said something weird. The first one was a sloppy woman and she mumbled something I didn’t understand. The second one was a tall man with crippled legs and a raw wooden cane. He said I was tall. Then he noticed I was standing on a stair. “Oh, you’re not tall, you’re standing on a stair,” he said.
“Yeah but I am tall,” I told him.
“No you aren’t,” he said. “You’re a midget.”
I laughed, and missed what the third one said, but felt like I was at the circus.
After I transferred to the second of the three busses I was taking home I decided I would put the iPod away and take out the book I’m reading, “Composting for Dummies.” At the stop after mine two men who may not have been homeless themselves but probably are friends with homeless people got on and sat near me. The one with the fur-trimmed and worn leather jacket, aviator sunglasses, chain necklaces, chin length hair and missing teeth eyed me. He tried to say hello across the row between us, and quickly moved to the seat across the aisle from mine.
“What are you reading?” He asked.
I flashed him the book cover and told him “Composting.”
“Com-posing? Composing! Can you compose a room full of addicts? Three hundred addicts, at a table, eating…can you compose that?” he asked me.
“No, I don’t think I can,” I replied.
“Well, we can” he said, as he nodded at his buddy with even more missing teeth.
“Oh.” I said. “Well, I’m reading a book about composting. It’s a way to get rid of some of your garbage.”
“Oh, OK, composting. Yeah, I know it. Well I hope you don’t mind my jacket,” he said, and attention was drawn to his garment.
It was a very worn, button-up black leather jacket with what he said was “juvenile lion’s fur” trim around the neck, throat and wrists. He said it was from the 70s and that it was “extinct” now. (I don’t know if he was talking about the fur or the style of jacket.) I asked him where he got the jacket and he said he found it laying in a street. I told him I liked it, and in all honesty, I did.
He then said something I didn’t quite catch, followed by “you know how when you take any sort of mind altering substance it takes about 40 minutes to begin affecting you.”
“What did you take?” I asked.
“I didn’t take anything,” he said. “What did you take?”
“I didn’t take anything, either,” I replied.
“Your hair looks soft,” he said.
“Thanks,” I replied.
“I’m Antonio,” he said, and shook my hand.
“Lauren,” I replied.
“Your hand is soft,” he said.
“Thanks,” I replied, and tried to show interest in my book.
Luckily he and his buddy got off at the next stop. That’s pretty much it for that buscapade, except for the guy with the teardrop tattoo under his eye that asked if he could use my cell phone.
I told him no, and finally the bus got to my stop. Made it home safely.