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Friday, October 8, 2010

The Bus Stop as Social Microcosm

Welcome, one and all, to Friday, a day of which I not only heartily approve but send furtive texts to, late Thursday night.

“U here?”

Nothing.

“U here yet?”

But let’s not worry about what Friday is up to late Thursday night. Instead, let’s worry about our weekend. What’s going on with this weekend anyway?

Shall we check?

Let us consult my iPod, the Aural Oracle, if you will, for so it is foretold (by me) that the shuffled songs on my iPod, played during Friday’s morning’s bus to work, holds clues to the weekend.

Bitch by The Rolling Stones
I Come From the Water by The Toadies
Born to Wander by Rare Earth
Super Stupid by Funkadelic
Jungle Love by Morris Day and The Time
A Million Miles Away by The Plimsouls
Waltz No. 2 by Elliott Smith

And there you have it. What it says, I dare not reveal. Let’s just say that having someone who will pick you up in the wee hours, no questions asked, might be something you set up now.

A quick story, perhaps?

Having grown up in a series of trailers parks, I can tell you that one way to judge an area is by its children. The following is one in a number of short stories I'm writing centered around the bus stop.

FYI: Tammy, Rita, and I are all 12 years old in this story.



It’s really cold this morning. You know it’s cold when Tammy’s hair freezes.

Tammy, the prettiest girl in the court, washes her hair every morning before school, the better to emphasize the gleaming blue-black drape of it, the way the light plays off hair hanging well below her waist; and because she won’t wear a hat, her hair freezes in the six-block walk to the bus stop.

A hat just isn't cool.

“Your hair is frozen,” Rita observes.

Rita lives in the big double-wide on the corner lot. Their yard is never empty of kids. Their driveway never has less than three cars in it, four if you include the Mustang on blocks back next to the shed.

Rita's whole family seems to be made up of boys. Even the girls are boys. Every single one of them is box-shaped and sturdy. That family isn't built for speed; it is built to crush.

Tammy scowls at Rita. The two of them are oil and water; and if Tammy had a brother, I’m sure she would’ve had him attempt to beat Rita up by now.

“Yeah, my hair's frozen. No shit, Sherlock,” Tammy says.

“Howdja like me to break it off at the roots?” Rita asks, pleasantly. She could just as easily be asking “howdja like a three-day weekend” or “howdja like half a pizza”?

Tammy steps behind me, uses me as a shield. “Go ahead,” she says, holding my shoulders. “Try it, Lard-O.”

Lard-O is a misnomer. Rita isn’t fat. She's as solid as a tree trunk and moves just slightly faster than one as she grabs the front of my coat with one hand and takes a swing for Tammy’s head with the other.

She misses Tammy’s head but manages to connect with her collar. She does not let it go.

“Hey!” I shout, angrily.

“Stand still,” Rita advises.

“LINDSEY!”, Tammy screams for her older sister. Lindsey, however, is a good block away, and seeing what is going on she continues her slow walk to the bus stop.

Lindsey and Tammy don't really like each other.

Rita lets go of me. Holding Tammy’s coat at the throat with her right hand, she casually licks her left thumb and smears it across Tammy’s forehead, then shoves her, hard, backwards. Tammy falls heavily to the street and jumps up, twisting, checking for possible damage to her white painter’s pants.

The brownish semi-frozen sludge of snow and salt has ruined them.

“I’m gonna get you!" Tammy screams. "I’m gonna get you!”

Rita shrugs; and Tammy runs home, crying.

Rita looks at me. “Washing your hair in the morning is stupid,” she challenges.

“You’re right about that,” I say.

I crane my neck, looking up the block. The bus should be here any minute now...

20 comments:

Fred Miller said...

With clever punctuation, those song titles form a grammatically complete sentence.

KathyA said...

The collection on my IPOD is so eclectic I just know it would puzzle anthropologists should they find it as an artifact.

The idea of centering your short stories around a bus stop is ingenuous.

Pearl said...

Fred, you're scaring me again.

KathyA, I think a lot of what we will leave behind is going to confuse people! :-)

Simply Suthern said...

You and the bus stop go way back.

Pearl said...

Simply, you know, I didn't really notice that until late last night, as I was posting. I'm sure there's some interesting observation to be made about that, but I'll be danged if I know what it is.

Bossy Betty said...

My I-Pod is not as creative as your I-Pod.

White painter pants take me back and make me smile!

Linda Medrano said...

I don't even have an I-Pod. Poor Tammy and her white pants and frozen hair! LOL! Kids!

Fragrant Liar said...

She licked her thumb and smeared it across the kid's forehead? Uh-oh, them's fightin' moves. Did big sis come to her little sis's aid?

Jo said...

You're a fabulous writer. I was right there at the bus stop with them.

Oh, goodness. :-) We have all known a Tammy, haven't we?

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

I'm scared to wash my hair in the morning ever again. Damn that Rita. I bet she's a hairdresser now, too.
xoRobyn

Simply Suthern said...

I knew a girl once that would answer to Truckstop. Is there possibly a nickname in there somewhere for ya? Just curious.

powdergirl said...

Yup, the Aural Oracle has me figured out, calling around for the unconditional ride right now.

I knew a Rita, but she was FAST and squarely built. No shit, she was a force to be reckoned with, you picked your battles.

Hah, but I was just a liiiitle bit faster, and I ALWAYS had frozen hair on the way to the bus stop.

Lisa said...

I'm glad you didn't get clocked standing in the middle of that. Although it would have made another story.....

Write on, Pearl. I love your stories.

Pearl said...

Betty, my iPod is a work in progress. And painters pants were AWESOME.

Linda, :-)

Fragrant Liar, Lindsey would never have backed Tammy up – just like Tammy would never have backed up Lindsey.

Robyn, just don’t wash it, leave it wet, and step out into a below-zero temp!

Simply, I’ll answer to Bubbles. :-)

Powdergirl, I would have loved to have had you at the bus stop!

Lisa, oddly enough, I was never in a fight, although I did get beat up on a bus roughly three years before this particular story. MAN. Now that I think about it, I really gotta take a closer look at my relationship with mass transit…

Jay said...

This is much more interesting than what happens at my bus stop. Usually we all just sit there in uncomfortable silence while the tranny hooker and I pretend not to know each other.

Uh, I probably shared too much here. ;-)

Ricky Shambles said...

Now I'm going to have to write the only bus stop story I have: 4th grade, 2nd grader jumps on me, tries to punch me (he was just a bully), I throw him off. Next day his 8th grade brother follows me from the bus, but doesn't know the guy up the sidewalk is my dad meeting my friend and I. My dad yells at him, calls him a little punk, and to go home. 2 hours later, HIS dad is at our house and has a shout out with my dad. Dad fight! No, not really. Just yelling, ending with the 8th grade bully apologizing to my dad.

Maybe that isn't a story, but it was fun remembering. Thanks.

Cheeseboy said...

There's a life lesson in here somewhere. Not sure if it is not to wash your hair in the morning or to not trust your peers. At any rate, it is hilarious.

UBERMOUTH said...

You'd think it'd be the kids who didn't wash their hair who got picked on.

Flea said...

Happy Saturday, Pearl.

nick said...

Yes, I hate living in areas where there are a bunch of noisy, snotty, whiny, rude, destructive, bratty kids. As a matter of fact, as I look out the window, I can see a bunch of them reeking havoc on the neighbourhood.
Oh wait, they're my kids.