Sometimes, on the bus, you want to look anywhere but, oh, ahead, up, or over there. The antics of human beings, even if said beings are fascinating creatures and our brothers and sisters in a Brotherhood of Man sort of way (a phrase I always see in my head as capitalized, no doubt because of my hippie-infused, 70s-style education) sometimes do not bear close inspection.
Not that I’m judging.
Still. It’s a city bus, and when you can no longer bear noticing that little Ray-Ray’s being supplied a baby bottle full of Tahitian Treat, that the guy at the front of the bus just may have a sinus infection of some sort, or that the girl standing in the aisle next to you is wearing a stained pair of pants whose bottom ironically proclaims itself “Juicy”, then you do, no doubt, what generations of cave men did before you.
You go searching through your purse.
How long, for example, has this receipt been here? Did I really buy a pound of bridge mix? Whose phone number is this? Should I call it? How old is this gum?
And where did I get this rock?
It’s a rock. I stare at it, careful not to pull it out of my purse, fearful that it be deemed a weapon by some heretofore missing Bus Security.
It is the rock my father gave to me for Easter.
“Pearl, Pearl,” he proclaims, enjoying himself. “Your mother and I have too much stuff for the house but not enough for a garage sale. You want any of this?”
Hmm. A sun hat. A pair of shoes. Drinking glass holders that screw into the ground. A popcorn popper.
And a rock.
“What the –“
“Isn’t that nice?” Dad holds it up, examines your standard sedimentary rock. “Your mother just loves rocks, you know.” He shouts into the kitchen. “Isn’t that right, Midge? Don’t you just love rocks?”
“For cryin’ out loud, Paul,” my mother bellows back. “You’re gonna make the cat go into labor.”
As a quick aside, it appears Midge’s Home for Wayward Kittehs is back in business. The current abandoned cat, a sleek black teenager who goes on to have a litter of five two days later spends the day waddling from outstretched hand to outstretched hand, hoping that a slice of ham will fall from it.
I pick the rock up. I suspect my love of rocks is an inherited condition, like high arches or chancre sores. There were large walls made entirely of rocks at my grandparents’ farm. My mother, sister, and I all have rock arrangements in our gardens.
“I’ll take the rock,” I say, shoving it into my purse.
“Pearl’s taking the rock, Momma!” my dad yells.
“That’s great, Paul,” my mother deadpans. “You feel free to keep that to yourself now.”
My dad winks at me, places an index finger along the side of his nose in an old-school sign of acknowledgement. “She loves it, your mother. She loves when I yell at her from another room.”
The rock is still in my purse, and I find myself smiling absentmindedly.
I got a rock for Easter.
1 hour ago