Lately, there’d been an excessive amount of ugliness on the bus: angry parents; sweatpants with disturbingly stressed seams; unprecedented sharing of one’s political views, sexual preferences and TV viewing habits.
Sometimes all at once.
Despite my fascination with human beings and the very, very many ways that they are weird, I’d grown tired of Tay-Tay’s shouting, become disenchanted by Pierce’s limb-by-limb, hole-by-hole body-hardware display.
Yes, yes, yes, Pierce. The additional perforations in your skull are very attractive. See there? You’ve caught the eye of a fellow body-modification artist. Perhaps you can get together, have a drink or two, count up how many holes the two of you have compared with the average human.
Rock on, as we used to say, with your bad self.
I was feeling tired of the bus.
And when you are tired of the bus, well, you’re pretty tired, aren’t you?
And I was. Until…
Ladies and gentlemen, have we yet discussed Heavy Metal Dude?
He boards Tuesday morning, one bus stop after me, a Smithsonian-grade rocker from the split-ends of his graying, mid-waist hair to the tips of his biker boots. The jean vest over his black leather jacket is festooned with the decals and badges of dozens of bands: Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple, Scorpions. He is not handsome, but he is smiling. He is rail thin, a late-night eater of donuts and Cheetohs, a man whose recycling bins, I imagine, are full of beer cans and pizza boxes…
He walks up the aisle toward the back of the bus. He is the middle-aged anti-Bieber, the skinny, grinning Ozzy to the bus’s dove-headed predictability.
He sees me staring.
He smiles. “You all right?” he says.
I blink, smile back. “Gettin’ better all the time,” I say.
He nods, a brief dip of the chin. “Well all right,” he says.
He sits down somewhere behind me.
We do not speak again, but we will always have Tuesday morning.
An Outbreak of Sea Fever
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