I'm going to miss taking the bus. I bought a car recently, and after I get a couple of nagging things out of the way -- selling my soul for a downtown parking spot that is within 6 blocks of my apartment, and getting off the alchemy that allows me to sleep -- after the detox and the Faustian bargain, I can get the new Idler back into town and onto the Mean Streets.
But until then, I'm going to enjoy the bus. Once again today I had an interesting anthropological adventure. Yet again, a uniform stepped onto the bus. But this time, the uniform boarded. And again, the sublimity reduced me to simultaneous awe and abject terror. I wanted to avert my gaze, but I was frozen. My sunglasses probably provided enough subterfuge. And then I respectfully re-immersed myself into the narrative of my book.
Through my peripheral vision, I could see that the uniform was carrying about 525 pounds, give or take. And that's a modest estimation. I've only seen guys like this in television documentaries. Here was somebody who looked like that. Like those shut ins. But here was one who didn't need hydraulic assistance to emerge into the bosom of humanity. And he seemed to be gainfully employed.
He sat in the seat across the aisle from me. He had trouble making the maneuver. For a truly terrifying moment I thought the careening of the bus was going to send him, ass-first, right on top of me, and all of my physiotherapy would have been undone in one fell swoop. Once he got into his seats, he began muttering to himself. The uniform was angry. He hadn't been done right. By the bus. By the bus driver. By the bus passengers. By me.
In the heat of the day, boarding the bus had taken all his resolve. He didn't stop panting for the entire 20 minute ride.
As I snuck a few askewed views from under my sunglasses, interrupting the narrative of my book, my initial sense of grotesquerie gradually grew to admiration and respect. My internal dialogue turned from 'How can somebody allow themselves to get this way' to a reflection on how brave this guy was. He knew what he looked like, and I can only imagine what he felt like. This bus ride was an Odyssean journey for him, an epic of sweat, snorts and stares. I would be angry too. He didn't want to be that way, I'm sure. And there was probably a reason he was -- something out of his control. But instead of being a shut in, he was choosing to live his life, and hopefully trying like hell to improve it. Unlike the original magic bust, he hadn't chosen to do this to himself/herself. Then again, maybe he didn't give a shit. I wasn't about to ask him.
And I thought how I probably appeared to people a few years ago. Hairless head, puffed up with steroids, hobbling on my cane, my body dissolving daily from the inside out. Only later was the apocalyptic atrophy to be revealed. Upon regarding me, small children stared and tugged at their mother's pantleg. Some simply started to cry on the spot.
When the bus dropped me off, the adventures continued. But that's a story for another day.
I used to hate the bus. Maybe I still do. But I have more respect for it.
1 week ago