From my notebook: an account of why I am usually listening to my iPod – and why I always carry a notebook on the bus.
The woman in the seat two ahead of me is dressed as City Trash-Talker #3. From the tips of her talon-like and bejeweled fingernails to the way she is sprawled across two seats during the afternoon rush hour, she gives off a vibe of unpaid rent and late-night calls to the police.
“What you calling me back for? What? What?! Yes it is! Yes it is!! I’m not interested – why you frontin’?”
Me? I have no idea why he’s frontin’, but her side of the conversation is so loud that I’m hoping I’ll find out. I turn the iPod off and remove one earbud.
“What? What?! Why you callin’ me? Why you didn’t give me what I came for? Don’t even! Don’t even!”
She does her best to “slam” the cell phone.
Her left hand goes to her mouth, and she jams her thumb into her mouth.
I open my book and frantically scribble thumb-sucking on the bus!!
Her phone rings loudly.
The thumb is removed from her mouth and is replaced by the phone. “What? What?! Where you? Where you? No! No, it don’t matter!”
Repetition. I write. Why so much repetition?
At this point, she suggests a physical improbability related to his “stuffing” his “junk” and again gives the ol’ college try to slamming a cell phone.
The effect is lost, of course, but I admire her commitment to keeping it angry.
Her left thumb goes back into her mouth.
The phone rings.
The thumb is removed from her mouth.
“What? What?! No, it don’t! No it don’t! You don’t know him! It ain’t none-a your business! You don't know him!”
At this point, she pulls the cord and, still arguing, steps toward the exit, shouting. “What? What?! No, it don’t! No, it don’t!”
I watch her, hoping for some sort of resolution. No, it don’t?! But what if it do? I write. What then?
The bus pulls away, and my last view of her is as she steps into the middle of the street, one hand clutching a phone to her head, the other flat-palmed and stretched out in a stiff-armed, imperious demand that the cars stop so that she can cross.
Would I be out of line in assuming that that woman be trippin’?