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Friday, March 22, 2013

If You’re Good at It, Is It Still Rotten?


You can tell this guy’s a character, just by looking.

Seems he has run into a friend of his.  He strides toward him, his hand outstretched.

“There he is!  The man himself!” 

For the rest of the commute, he stands next to him.  His hand holding the overhead strap, he sways like a reed.

He is a wiry fellow, this man, encased in Carhartt duds, a baggy blue knit cap.  He has a drooping moustache and bright, clever eyes.  When he smiles you can see he is missing an eye tooth.  I judge him to be in his early 50s.

“I needed those big curving needles” he says to his friend, “came downtown, found two packs of them at the Walgreen’s.  Bought them both for five dollars.  Well, there was tax, too, but I didn’t mind paying it.”

His friend nods appreciatively.

“Fixed the couch of the lady down the hall.  Big rip in the middle of it.”

He describes, in gesticulating details that often include both hands, the process of pulling, pinning, stitching and moving the couch from one room to another.

He describes the home-cooked meal he got in return for his services. 

The meal, he pronounces, was middlin’, but the dessert was fiiiiiiiine

I go back to my iPod but find I cannot stay away.  I check in, turning the volume up or down as needed, every couple of minutes. 

“I tell them, hey!  I didn’t want the phone in the first place! They tell me, everybody got a phone!  I tell them, well I don’t.  I need to use a phone, I got three, four people right down the hall let me use theirs.”

And

“I hit all the thrift stores up and down that street.  Finally found what I was looking for.  After I’d set it right, I sold it.  You can make a lot of money that way.”

“Oh, sure,” he says at one point, twisting the ends of his moustache, “you can use bee’s wax.  Don’t think I didn’t think of that.  The one thing you can’t use” – and here he looks directly at me, smiling – “is candle wax. Candle wax’ll make ya look like somethin’ that’s crawled on to the beach off the ocean floor.”

He has caught me watching him.  He winks at me. 

“You look like you might have a thought in your head,” he says.  “What’s going on, cupcake?”

I smile, shake my head as my fellow commuters watch.

The bus comes to a stop.  This stop is the big stop.  Several people stand to exit, the aisle and seats finally clearing of the afternoon rush.  A large woman carrying several bags pushes, angrily, from the back.  “I need to get off,” she says.  “Let me off.  Move!  Let me off.”

I turn around to watch. 

“Move it.  Move your skinny ass over,” she says to the upholsterer. 

He moves aside.  “Yeah, you go,” he says to the back of her head as she shoves past him.  “Get home, make you something to eat.”

He turns back to his friend.  “I shouldn’t be so rotten,” he says, shaking his head almost sorrowfully as the woman steps on to the street.  “But I’m just so damn good at it.”


Have a good weekend, everyone.  And only be rotten if you’re good at it.

37 comments:

vanilla said...

And when one is good at something, he practices it with suave and aplomb.
(I don't even know what that means.)

Wonderful bus ride story!

Pearl said...

vanilla, it struck me, although I'm not sure why. :-)

Craver Vii said...

The man sounds like a Norman Rockwell painting - come to life. How very fun!

Pearl said...

Craver, there was something quite charismatic about him...

Shelly said...

“Yeah, you go,” he says to the back of her head as she shoves past him. “Get home, make you something to eat.”

If I rode the bus for 50 years and never heard anything other than this line, this alone would make it worth it.

joeh said...

I am so jealous, if you run out of stuff to write you just get on the bus and listen!

Well I suppose I could get on a bus too, but I don't think I hear stuff the same way as you do.

Pearl said...

Shelly, that's pretty much what I thought!

joeh, not all days on the bus are amusing, but when they are,it kinda makes your day.

Sweet Posy Dreams said...

What an interesting guy. And what a good parting shot.

Jackie said...

I agree with Joeh...
You have great listening skills...and you write pretty doggone good, too...for a cupcake.
Have a beautiful weekend.

Pearl said...

Sweet Posy, it was just so casual -- and so flippant...

Jackie, I swear this stuff writes itself. :-)

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Cupcake? CUPCAKE? Clearly the guy did not know with whom he was dealing. He missed his chance in apprenticing for the art of upbraiding!!

Meanwhile, you could picked up some upholstering tips... &>

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

He sounds charming..well..except for the missing tooth. Maybe you'll meet him again and he'll stand by you and chat all the way home.

Powdered Toast Man said...

I'm no good at being rotten. Can I take a class in that?

Susan Kane said...

You have the bus-riding experience refined to a fine point. Oh, the stories you hear...Thanks for passing them on to us.

Daisy said...

I could be better at "it". I'll practice this week-end...maybe ride the bus!

So, you finally got caught listening in, watching! That line, cupcake, got a loud laugh here!

Joanne Noragon said...

One step removed from the earth. What a good guy.

Mandy_Fish said...

Now that's a great parting line.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I like his moustache and the fact that he called you "cupcake". She was rude and deserved his rottenness.

Have a great weekend, Pearl.

xoRobyn

Goldenoldenlady said...

Don't understan why you didn't chase after him and propose. What's the worst that could happen - he's already taken?

Mitchell is Moving said...

It's nice to be good at something I suppose... cupcake.

George said...

I very much enjoyed reading your story. Very well done.

Joop Zand said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog.

wish you a nice weekend.

Greetings from Holland, Joop

Linda O'Connell said...

I'm telling ya, never look 'em in the eye ;)

The Savage said...

I always say, "If you can't be good then be good at it."

Gigi said...

I can be rotten in my head to those loud, pushy, obnoxious people but to actually utter it out loud? Nope, I can't do that. This guy takes the cake (how did no one else commenting think of that?!)

jenny_o said...

"You look like you might have a thought in your head ..."

If ONLY he knew who he was talking to. There are not only thoughts in your head, but thoughts about thoughts and then more thoughts :)

I liked this so much. Thank you!

Perpetua said...

Pearl, all of life is there on your bus rides. Who needs TV?

Daisy said...

HA! That made me laugh. He is rather good at it. :-)

Austan said...

I could just listen to your bus ride stories forever. The mix of humanity is always tasty. And yeah, he's good at it!

That Janie Girl said...

i'm gonna come just hang around you some day. I swear! So interesting! xoxoxoxo

River said...

He called you cupcake?
I love that! I have the most delighted smile right now.
Cupcake.

Elephant's Child said...

I loved this. Thank you. And it gives me something to aspire to as well. I am going to practise being rotten - in the same less than proficient way as your bus friend.

The Six-Fingered Monkey said...

Rotten is so much fun when you're good at it.

sage said...

That man's world is so different than mine, but I have to admire him knowing his on frailty and his willingness to confess it.

Lorna said...

So amusing!

~Lorna
_______________________________________


wendy house said...

If ever I have the lusury of visiting can we buy a couple of all day bus passes and ride around all day only getting off for pizza and Bio-breaks. That was a fun ride for me!

savannah said...

i think if i had read this on friday, i would have been telling the story all weekend long and laughing!! hey, but it's also a great way to start the week off, too1 ;) cheers, sweet pea! or should i say, cupcake? xoxoxox