Waiting for a train, I casually find a seat among strangers. The bench is hard and the still afternoon air is warm and stifling. I am strangely content even as a bead of sweat makes its way down my neck and between my breasts.
I notice a young woman looking at me slightly curiously. She hauls her luggage behind her as she walks towards me and sits down on the bench next to me in a casual sort of way as if we knew each other. Smiling, she asks me, “how far along are you?” I answer politely that I have a few more weeks to go. She asks if I know what I am having and I tell her that it is a Boy. “I had a boy”, she states in a reminiscent tone that held both sadness and a sense of wonderment as if that time in her life had been a dream that she was momentarily revisiting. Her eyes sparkled with an inviting pleasantness, an uncommon trait amongst strangers met on train platforms.
We continue our friendly conversation about baby clothes, the strange still heat of the day, summer scarves and the likelihood of the train arriving on time. It doesn’t of course and our conversation loses momentum, becoming a staggered repetition of head nods and polite smiles.
The train pulls into the station and we rise from the bench, her with ease and I with a slow deliberate heave. As she gathers her luggage and we make our way towards the train she says to me, “I just have to tell you that you are beautiful, a truly glowing woman. You look like you are at peace. Are you? Are you at peace?”
“Yes, I am at peace, very much so.”
Finally, I am within sight of the bus stop. My aching feet can’t take much more of this plodding adventure down the hot city sidewalk. The tight leather has rubbed my heels completely raw and my pinky toes are moments away from a squishy blistery pop. Fuck it, I remove my shoes and walk barefoot the rest of the way to the bus stop. Barefoot and pregnant, that’s me, on display and I don’t give a fuck.
I take a seat on the bus bench next to an old man wearing a tweed sport coat and sweat pants and look at the wreckage my feet have become. Jesus fucking Christ! I am thankful for my constant supply of band aids that are an absolute essential for the girl on the go or in my case the girl who refuses to drive a car or wear flats and has retarded feet from being born a club foot. I start unwrapping bandages and applying them in neat little rows up the backs of my heels when I realize that the old man is staring at me, seriously and creepily staring at me. In no mood for weirdness even from an old man donning a pretty sweet coat I say, “What?” rather harshly and with a head movement/eye roll that shows my semi-ghetto ass upbringing. He doesn’t look away for a second just keeps staring at my feet, eyes roaming up my leg but never up much further. He is smirking, the motherfucker is smirking. Okay, maybe he is crazy, senile or a little of both but I am so creeped out I really don’t give a shit. I would just get up and walk away but I really need to get these bandages on my feet before the bus gets here because I may have just walked down the street barefoot but there is no way I am contracting a mersa related foot fungus from being barefoot on the city bus. So, I continue to cover as much of my raw, blistered and bloody feet as possible until I run out of bandages.
And, yes he is still staring at my feet and yes he is still smiling. This must be like live action porn for the old fucker foot fetishist who likes seeing pregnant girls in pain. I get my shoes back on, wincing as I stand up for the approaching bus. I awkwardly bend to adjust a slipping bandage and can’t help but notice the old man still watching my every move.
“Fuck you old man!”
I don’t care that other people are nearby and heard me curse at what they think is an innocent old man. I don’t care that even this outburst didn’t manage to get his attention away from my feet or the fact that the bus doors were opening just as I yelled at him. I feel better, my feet feel better and I know that he deserved it because a pervert is a pervert no matter how old the offender.
The 7 headed Downtown, early afternoon:
A woman of indeterminable age, wrapped in layers of fine black cloth, head wrap and tattooed hands talking to younger woman with unkempt hair and booty shorts.
Tattooed hands – I’m pregnant with my ninth.
Booty shorts – Nine? Whoo! I got five, I’m tryin’ for one more.
I wanted to scream at these ignorant assholes. I mean, fucking seriously? Overpopulation is a critical issue and we have women competing in breeding races. Yes, I am contributing to the problem but I was responsible with my reproductive health for many years until I was prepared to provide for another human being taking up space on this planet.
Disclaimer: I can talk shit about welfare recipients because I was one most of my life.
The more kids you have the more money you get. Backwards cultures believe a huge family gets the most respect. Ignorance breeds ignorance. How many poor, stupid kids have to be born into this overcrowded world before public assistance programs will require family planning education courses to be taken in order to receive each monthly check?
witness to an unevent
old woman on bus (disheveled, purple cat hair covered sweater, very few teeth) – hey
young woman on bus (low rise jeans cutting into thick waist, long hot pink nails) – (consumed with her cell phone, oblivious to surroundings)
old woman – Hey you girl, I’m talking to you.
young woman – (looks up annoyed, looks around)
old woman – Yeah you girl, who you is?
young woman – Look lady, I don’t know you.
old woman – Yeah, I know you. You that girl been runnin round with my tony.
young woman – Lady, I don’t know no Tony. You old and confused is what you is.
old woman – All you’s ho’s the same any damn ways.
young woman – Yeah lady, I guess we is.
I have never had a driver’s license. When people ask why I don’t drive I usually give my standard answer of, “I choose not to drive for the sake of every other motorist, passenger, pedestrian and bicyclist on the road.” There has to be a more involved reason, a better story behind it all. I am 31 and live in Southern California; not known for its efficient public transportation system. If I lived in New York I would be amongst thousands of people to have never had a driver’s license. But I don’t and I’m not that good of a liar to pretend that I just moved here and haven’t gotten around to the whole driving thing. The fact is….I just don’t drive.
Maybe it started when I was five years old and my Mother was going blind. She was in denial that her eyesight made her no longer fit to drive. She would ask for my assistance with street signs, directions of traffic and whether or not it seemed safe to turn or merge into traffic. I was five fucking years old! We would get lost for hours until the car ran out of gas or she simply parked and cried. The feelings of insecurity must have been intense. I also remember feeling like I had let her down every time we got lost, as if my very existence had caused all this trouble and my lack of knowledge had only exacerbated it. One time she pulled the car into a gas station that was under construction. She had no idea until the car almost turned over into a gaping ditch. That had to be it, right? Nope, she continued driving for months with me as her unwitting co-pilot.
Years after she gave up driving I dreaded the day I would have to be her driver. I knew once I had my license I would be forced to chauffeur her around. And when would that Daughterly duty end? Never, I knew I would be stuck. When I was fifteen they offered a behind-the-wheel driving course at my high school. My Dad immediately signed me up without asking me if I was even interested. He wanted out of the driving Miss Daisy job as much as I dreaded it. I showed up and I did fine with all the pen to paper parts but when it came time for foot to pedal parts, I freaked. My nerves took control and I scared the shit out of the instructor and two of my fellow classmates with the unfortunate luck of being in the back seat of the car. At one point I was on the freeway literally going twenty miles per hour while screaming, “I don’t want to do this!” I then took the next exit and pulled into a gas station (thankfully not under construction). The car had barely come to a stop before I jumped out and ran to the bathroom. I sat on the filthy floor and chokingly cried through my violent convulsions of fear. I truly had no idea until that point that driving a car would have that sort of effect on me.
My next attempt at driving came many years later when I bought a car. I suppose I figured that if I spent all my money on a car then I would force myself to learn how to drive. Plus the car was just adorable and it would be the perfect accessory. It was a 1974 Ford Maverick Grabber: original red paint with black racing stripes, 302 V8, manual brakes. You know, the perfect car for someone who is terrified of driving. I gave it a few attempts but no matter how fucking cute that bitch was I could not do it. I barely touched the gas and goddamn we were moving, stopping the thing took two feet jammed down on that brake until my calves cramped and my toes were numb. So, the Maverick sat in our driveway for about five years until I admitted defeat and sold her to a cute young boy who promised to treat her right.
The bus has been good to me. I have seen some shit I will never forget, shit that I never would have seen otherwise. I have met people who have inspired me, scared me, touched me (literally and figuratively), made me laugh and made me cry. I have watched a young girl get propositioned to be a “ho” and gladly accept the offer as long as she could get “mad faded”. I have seen Mothers dangle infants like rag dolls while screaming on their cell phones, “you the baby daddy bitch, why you trippin’ like you ain’t got shit!” I have seen drunken old men piss themselves, smiling. I have smelled more ass on the bus than I have ever smelled in public restrooms. I have repeatedly been mistaken for someone who gives a shit when it comes to a lone white girl getting beaten by five black girls. I am the last person you should run to in that situation, I will not save you, I will look the other way. And if you ask me for some money I will probably give you some even if you smell like beer and especially if you are honest and say it’s for beer. I never would have had any of these encounters sitting in a car by myself stuck in traffic. I like the choice I have made. Fuck driving.
I have spent years waiting.
I sit. I am very patient. Smoking used to come in very handy in breaking up time periods of waiting.
No big, just enough time for one more smoke.
Still waiting? One more then.
But now that I am limited to one ultra light a day, waiting seems to have lost its charm.
So, as I sit and wait for yet another bus I fidget and pretend to read, I pretend to look at an interesting email, I pretend not to stare at an enormous lump of a woman eating what appears to be wet greasy pork rinds from a plastic container and as she licks her artificially reddened fingers I pretend not to gag. Most of all I am pretending to not want a smoke so bad that I would accept a cigarette from those same freshly spit cleaned bloated fingers.