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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Oddly Enough, This is not the First Time This has Happened to Me

The afternoon bus stop has been moved.

For the next month, while Nicollet Mall is repaved, we are invited to board our buses on Hennepin, notable for its being the land of Prince-famous First Avenue and the only street in the world where I have been mistaken for a prostitute.

But that’s another story.

And so yesterday, after initially trotting, like a drunken farmer’s horse, to my regular stop only to remember my new destination in time to miss my bus, I decide to take a different route, a route that goes to my neighborhood but drops me off roughly 9-10 blocks from home.

The walk: it’s good for my digestion.

There’s a whole ‘nother feel to waiting for the bus on Hennepin Avenue, and I suspect that this will not be the last you hear me talk about it.

What you notice first is that there’s no shade. Just a couple blocks from the new Twins stadium, there are no tall buildings to block the afternoon sun, and the heat, surprising for this time of year, bounces up off the sidewalk.

The next thing you notice on Hennepin Avenue is what appears to be a universal lack of dental plans for its regulars.

I think we can honestly describe parts of Hennepin Avenue as “seedy”.

Upon boarding my irregular bus, I am treated to the phone conversation of the man four seats behind me. What a lovely voice he has. Everything in his world, to hear him tell it, is “off the hook”. He is also of the opinion that “that girl be trippin’”. What girl, we will never find out.

I turn my iPod up.

I have my own seat for two blocks, whereupon I am joined by an albino.

An albino!

He is pink-white with sculpted white facial hair and wrap-around sunglasses. He smiles at me as I look up, and I decide that being smiled at by an albino is probably a good-luck thing.

Not long after he boards, and seeing the earphones, he gestures out the window. We are crossing the bridge over the Mississippi. Above flood-stage, the river roars underneath us, jostling and fighting itself with root-beer-colored fists.

I turn my iPod down. “Incredible, isn’t it?” I say. “Howdja like to fall into that?”

He smiles and shakes his head.

Four blocks later, he points out a man standing on the roof of a three-story house.

We smile at each other. Crazy people!

A block before my stop, we watch a backhoe yank up an enormous square of sidewalk, deftly maneuvering it up and into a dumpster.

“You see that?” I say. “What do you suppose something like that weighs?”

And he answers me.

In Spanish. Several sentences in Spanish. And then we laugh, me in American, and him in Spanish.

An albino non-English speaking man sat next to me on the bus yesterday.

And I think we are now friends.

53 comments:

Camille said...

Your gift of telling such a good story is what keeps me attached hook, line, and sinker to your blog Pearl. Nicely done.

Leenie said...

What a ride! You get to meet new people every day. I'm glad to know your pale friend was--a friend. So often albinos are the EVIL characters eg. Princess Bride's Denizen of the Pit of Despair. No language barrier when it comes to friendly people. Ride on. Sounds like you had plenty to digest on that 10 block walk.

David L Macaulay said...

wow - your fascinating bus stop tales provide great blog fodder. Your life would be much less rich if you had to drive a car...

Kate Mohler said...

Funny how you got the Albino yesterday and I got the big bearded Black man!

Pearl said...

Thank you, Camille. Would you believe I've been quite bummed out lately? Readership takes a big hit when the weather warms, and my numbers are down. Waaaaaah! :-)

Leenie, the pale ones -- you just never know. :-) He is actually only the second albino I've seen on the streets, the last one being a man who passed me on like the 18th mile of a 25 mile walk-for-mankind of something...

David, thank you so much. I never understand people who don't enjoy the bus -- until ya get a real stinker or someone who's clearly a troublemaker. Maybe it's Minneapolis, but I've only had three bad encounters in the almost 8 years I've been riding.

Kate, the spectrum of humanity!!

Daisy said...

Bus rides can be so interesting! Tell me more about Hennepin Ave since I'm from another place.

Jazz said...

I love your bus stories. Your buses are so much more interesting than mine.

- Jazz

becca said...

you have the best stories ever

Pearl said...

Daisy, I fear the I'm-mistaken-for-a-prostitue story might be coming soon...

Jazz, I recommend living in the city, preferably Minneapolis. :-)

becca, thank you so much. :-)

Bossy Betty said...

I really hate irregular busses. All busses, like people, should be regular.

Pat said...

I seem to remember albinos are light sensitive - hence the wrap around glasses.
Just thought you might like to know that;)
Isn't that the best way to communicate: a gesture and a smile?

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I bet you have at least 6 years of good luck with that combination.

Glen said...

I think it has to be a pair to be lucky - sorry

Pearl said...

Betty, regularity is what it's all about.

Pat, I believe you are right on both accounts!

Green Girl, between the albino and the laughter, I'd say six years sounds about right. YAY! :-)

Oilfield Trash said...

What are the odds of that happening? hmm....

Pearl said...

Dammit, Glen!! Where am I gonna find a pair of albinos?!

Pearl said...

OT, Spanish-speaking albinos humoring me on the bus? It's a new one!

laughingmom said...

Loved your description of the river - I'll be thinking of that next time I cross over our local river. Your creative mind just blows me away!

TALON said...

My brother's best friend growing up was an albino. I once asked him how he handled everyone's double take-looks at him all the time. He just grinned and said, "Why? Do I look strange or something?" He always wore dark glasses and we used to be jealous he could wear them in class.

You've triggered some fun memories, Pearl. Thank you!

imbeingheldhostage said...

How funny. Nice of fate to throw you together like that :-)

IWASNTBLOGGEDYESTERDAY said...

i haven't been on a bus in years..we dont have them here in the sticks..unless you're going to school .

Susan in the Boonies said...

It's good to make friends. Even with people with whom you don't share a common language.

I remember feeling so frustrated when I lived in Switzerland, because there were certain people with whom I could tell I would just "click", if only my French were better, or, even more to the point, if only they knew how absolutely cool I am in English. In French, I was a 5 year old.

LeeAnn said...

Last time I rode a bus I met the Jesus Finger Man. He's basically the reason that was the last time.

jenny_o said...

So much to comment on! First, please do tell us the Hennepin/prostitute/mistaken-identity story soon please please please. Love the description of the river and its root beer colored fists. And isn't it great when a stranger turns out to be nice? I liked when you said you both laughed - you in American and he in Spanish!

Cheeseboy said...

If Obama really wants to get down to business, he should offer bus stop dental care. Let's get this done. The people of Minnesota are in need.

It's good to have friends that communicating with is difficult. Builds character.

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl! I consider you thrice blessed! A cross-dressing alcoholic Peruvian trombonist once say next to me on the bus. How do I know he was Peruvian? Well, my spoken Quechua is pretty spanky, thanks for asking. And his teeth were immaculate. Indigo

Cotonee said...

Oh, Pearl. I get to wait on Hennepin EVERY day! You have definitely been missing out, girlfriend ;-)

Nancy said...

And all because you took a different route. It boggle the mind. :)

Eva Gallant said...

I always look forward to your posts; whether they're about the bus ride, your cats, or Mary--I know I will be entertained.

Jimmy said...

8 metric tonnes... the backhoe. Depending on bucket attachments of course, not forgetting the outriggers when extended and of course what the driver had for his lunch.

Well you did ask!

Lazarus said...

I love your masterful use subtle nuances of language. My favorite line in this post - and there are many to chose from - was "...we are invited to board our buses on Hennepin." It's like you're pretending to buy into the city's bogus "invitation" to endure inconvenience. "The state would like to invite you to sit in the electric chair now..." That "invite" line just cracked me up, bravo!

Happy Frog and I said...

I love taking the bus though at the moment I can only do this at weekends. There are so many interesting characters. I was chuckling a lot while reading this and thinking about the great characters you were so masterfully describing. Please keep taking the bus, it's fantastic!

The Vegetable Assassin said...

You know, that sort of warmed my cockles. For real.

I wonder if the Spanish albino man, right now, is somewhere writing a blog of his own about the crazy American lady in the headphones asking him odd questions? I do hope so. My search for "Spanish Albino Blog Man Takes Minneapolis" brought up nothing of worth.

Crystal Pistol said...

An ALBINO?? I am sooo jealous! I wish I had a token albino friend that laughed in Spanish.

Some people have all the luck.

Nessa Roo said...

There's a little albino boy that lives around our corner. He doesn't speak Spanish OR English. Just American Sign Language and Caveman! (Often, he just points and grunts, because the rest of us don't know ASL, and we've named it "Caveman")

Nessa Roo said...

Oh, and by the way, The Crystal Pistol in Amarillo is a Strip Club!

Kal said...

Thanks for ruining it for me. I had a post about me meeting a Spanish albino on a bus all ready to go but who will believe me now? I wouldn't have believed the story you told unless it had come from you. Sometimes we can't make this shit up.

Mandy's Kidding said...

That is so sweet. According to my sister, my baby daughter's first word was "Si." I thought it was "Hi." But we can agree to disagree. If she is indeed saying "Si" then she looks like a tiny baby Spanish albino.

Cake Betch said...

Oh the identity problems a spanish man who looks like a white man must have. Poor, poor gentleman. At least he's happy.
I personally always freak out when someone speaks to me in Spanish because I can't understand them even though I took something like 8 years of it. I feel guilty.

Sioux said...

I think you passed up the "friend" phase with the guy on the roof. NOW, you're engaged!

a Broad said...

Totally friends and definitely good luck !
My horrid rides on buses, when I was young and impressionable , therefore never having ridden on a bus since .. were nothing if not bad lucky. bad bad bad.

Barb said...

To remember a meeting like this is reason enough to get up and go to work!

Gigi said...

Hmmm, the Mississippi runs through Minnesota?? Oh did I say that out loud?? Yes, my geography skills are sadly lacking.

You, my friend, seem to have found a new seat mate for the duration.

Nick Ward said...

I used to go to school with a family of albinos. They all looked the same except in different sizes. The youngest brother was like a mini-me version of the oldest brother. For reasons that are unknown to me to this day the oldest brothers favorite insult was to call people "whiteheads". It still confuses me to this day. Not a very interesting story but true none-the-less. :)

Linda O'Connell said...

Smiling, laughing, the same in all languages.

nsevy@sbcglobal.net said...

I don't think I've ever met an actual albino. And here you have a Spanish speaking one for a friend. I am so jealous.

KaLynn ("MiMi") said...

oh girl you absolutely kill me!! that was hilarious!!

lisleman said...

Good thing you resisted the urge to rub his hair.
I just posted about thrifts-store-cowboys and truck-stop-angels - maybe you'll run into a few at this new bus stop.

Sandra said...

You are such a good writer Pearl...I mean, I know that, but when I come and read you, I'm like, "Maaaan, she's good!"
And yes, I think being greeted by an Albino man, especially a Spanish speaking one, is good luck. Go with that!

hoodyhoo said...

I never even knew you could GET an Hispanic Albino, and now you have one for a friend! I'm jealous.

the walking man said...

At the very least now I know why Hennepin Avenue made it into a Tom Waites song.

ThreeOldKeys said...

My 2 comments miss the main points of your post, but you throw in so many lovely tidbits along the way ....

The Hennepin teeth trend reminds me ... our vet said my cat has "sparse dentition." So I use the expression as often as possible.

And being "invited to board" on Hennepin is like senior discounts for those aged "55 or better". And this one: "Have you achieved menopause?"

On My Soapbox said...

I used to have to walk through a seedy area in the early morning hours. There's nothing like getting propositioned or asked for drugs before you've had breakfast.