It is 96 degrees outside, the humidity firmly anchored amongst numbers considered “tropical”. The heat rises from the sidewalk in wavy stink lines, seemingly bending the air.
The pigeon on the ground in front of me walks, slowly, the very picture of inner-city, bird-related heat exhaustion.
The bus arrives and we line up, eager and grateful for the cool, dry air.
The bus is full today, and I move to the back, back to the last available seat, just beyond the rear exit. I like this seat: you take two steps up to it so it’s raised, just slightly, and there’s a camera not far from away.
I like to think that if anything strange were to happen, it would be caught on film.
Once I have reached the seat, however, I am forced to stand there for a bit. I give a small smile to a middle-aged woman in a Tinkerbell tee-shirt, and she grudgingly moves her backpack from the last seat on the bus, something she does with a small sigh.
I consider pursing my lips at her in a show of stern, Minneapolis-style disapproval and then decide against it.
Nobody wants trouble.
Especially if it will be on camera.
I sit in the newly vacated seat, adjust my lunch bag, my purse, on my lap. I pull out a small decorative handkerchief, mop at the sweat moustache I’ve developed.
The bus continues to fill.
A young man stands in the space next to the rear exit. This means that because I am on a raised seat just beyond that space, he and I are at eye level.
But rather than doing the polite thing on a bus, which is to look forward, toward the driver, he is looking toward the back, in my direction.
But he’s not looking at me.
He’s looking at himself.
He reaches up, adjusts the fish-eye mirror positioned over the backdoor. He turns his head, grins at himself from his good side, holds his phone/camera up, captures this special moment between him and himself.
He grins up at himself, points a finger into the mirror: you.
I don’t know where to look, so I continue to look at him.
He readjusts the mirror, checks his teeth. Satisfied with what he sees, he grasps the shoulders of his tee-shirt, snaps it out several times in what passes for “jaunty” these days.
The bus comes to a stop just outside the post office, and with one final check in the mirror, our debonair, commuter-about-town de-buses.
I turn to my seatmate.
Tinkerbell smiles at me. “Now that was a good-lookin’ man. Mmm-mmm-mm.”