bus story 1

It’s always cold on the bus. For that reason, I kind of hate riding it in the mornings, especially when I’m wearing a skirt without hose or tights or leg warmers, as is sometimes mandated by fashion in the summer time. But everyone has their crosses to bear, right?

This morning I got on the bus without hose or tights or legwarmers, and it was very cold. I put my iPod (my Sony Walkman iPod) into my ears and hugged myself into as compact a shape as possible.

The bus starts filling up, and this guy gets on. He’s a small guy, ethnic origin somewhere on the Eastern Hemisphere. He sits by me, and I take care not to sigh or jut out my elbow or even look at him, because I hate it when I’m forced to sit by someone else on the bus, and that someone else makes it clear that they’re annoyed and that they’d been wishing that their $3 fare would have somehow paid for two seats. I mean, I get annoyed when strangers sit next to me, too, and I wish my $3 bought me a force shield from strangers, too. But that’s not the way Metro works, is it?

So I’m sitting there, trying to be polite and only feeling a little bit sorry for myself, when I realize that the guy sitting next to me is hot. Not attractive-hot, but temperature hot. He’s radiating heat like a furnace. I peeked at him as much as manners would allow, but he didn’t seem to be feverish or on fire. He was just radiating heat, somehow. Like, from the inside.

I decided, then, that he must have been a demon. Either that or an elemental, but most likely a demon, because I don’t imagine elementals looking like people or wanting to ride the bus. I glanced again and saw that he was reading a text full of arcane-sounding words. (Cold fusion? HP 3200?) That seemed to confirm his supernatural nature.

I turned my face away from the demon man and, for a split second, felt uncomfortable. Then, I felt good. I felt warm. I’d been cold before, but this demon dude was literally generating enough heat to make up for the fact that I had no pantyhose on under my sandals and knee-length skirt. It felt nice, like a cozy fire.

I wondered, then, what it meant to take comfort from a demon. Was it safe? Was I unintentionally giving away my soul?

Really, there was nothing to fear. In every story I’ve ever heard on the subject, demons can’t possess your soul unless you give them verbal permission. And you have to invite them onto your premises, in the first place. Right? I’d invited this demon nowhere, as we were sitting in a public place. I hadn’t said anything to him at all. As long as I kept my Sony Walkman iPod in my ears and minded my own business, I could warm myself with the demon fire and keep my soul and its first serial rights. He wasn’t even a big demon, anyway. I didn’t think he could carry me if he wanted to.

The warmth made me sleepy and I drifted through dreams as pawn shops and Adult Video Stores sped by. “Is this,” I wondered, “how it starts? Can people get possessed in their sleep? Is demon heat a roofie?”

But we made it downtown okay. Someone rang the bell and, like zombies awoken, several of the passengers stood up and stumbled out into the sunlight as filtered by skyscrapers. The demon got up to let me pass and didn’t even spare me a glance.

I didn’t realize why until now, after typing all this. I’ve already been marked by someone else. My soul is the property of Corporate America.

intro to bus stories 2, 3, and 4

So I recently bought myself an MP3 player as a reward for a job well done. (What job is that, you ask? The job that is being myself.) And, now that I have one, I see that there’s a secret world I’ve been missing out on but am now a part of.

Before I had an MP3 player, I didn’t want to know anything about them, because I hate window shopping. You know? I don’t want to hear about stuff I can’t afford, in general. But then they got cheap, so I decided to get one, so I did my research and picked the one with the most battery life.

(Also, I waited to get one because I just had no use for one before. But now that I have a job where we’re allowed to listen to them (and where our laptops have no soundcards), and now that I ride the bus instead of driving my van and listening to my own CDs…)

Before I had an MP3 player, I ignored people who had them. I purposely spaced out when people talked about them. But not anymore.

Now, when I ride the bus, I notice who’s listening to music and who’s not. And I notice that other people notice it, too.

bus story 2

The other day, I was on the bus and I busted out my [Sony Walkman] iPod (which I will call an ipod from now on, because screw Corporate America and their branding. kleenexes! xeroxing!! orange and lemon cokes!!!).

I turned on my music and went to the place where I go to when my music’s on. It’s a place in my mind, and it’s a combination night club, costume party, trip abroad, and Houston’s Galleria mall.

So I was there, and I don’t know if it showed on my face or what, but the guy sitting across from me smiled at me.

Not in a creepy way, but in a sort of empathetic yet wistful way. Like he could tell that I was happy, and he was glad for me, and yet he maybe wished he had an ipod, too.

He seemed like a nice guy, actually. But I didn’t smile back. I just blinked at him and then looked away.

I don’t smile at strange men. Especially not on the bus.

bus story 3

Right after that, the angry-looking man next to the nice-looking man gave us both a glare. Really, he just gave a long, long glare that encompassed us, all the other passengers, and everything else on earth.

Then, the angry-looking man looked at my ear buds. Then, he took some earbuds out of his pocket and attached them to his phone.

I don’t know if y’all know this, but a lot of newer phones are also ipods now. Seriously. They are.

The angry-looking guy turned on his phone ipod, and then he closed his eyes and pretended to sleep. I hoped that his music made him feel better. I wondered what song he was listening to, but there was no way I could ask.

bus story 4

Today I rode the bus home and I listened to my ipod. Of course. Across from me, an older woman sat there with white ear buds in her own ears. And she kept glancing at me.

“What is this woman looking at?” I thought. But that question didn’t make me as angry as it used to, because I had my ipod on and it’s hard to get angry when I’m in my music place.

The woman glanced and glanced, and then, when I had to adjust my volume, I pulled my ipod out of my bra, out of the neck of my shirt, and did so. And then the woman kept looking, but her look became very thoughtful. I thought that maybe she was noting my clever idea of going hands-free with the use of my bra. She was maybe thinking, “Wow. It fits in there so well. I wouldn’t have even guessed she had an ipod in her bra.”

Then, the woman lifted her own ipod from her lap. It was a real iPod, and it had a leather case with an apple on it and everything. When she lifted it and opened the case, she glanced at me again.

I couldn’t help but suspect that she wanted me to notice her. I suspected that she’d just gotten that new ipod, maybe for a gift or maybe she went right into the apple store and bought it for herself, for a job well done.

She flicked at the buttons and I wondered how many songs she had. I wondered which ones were her favorites.

She glanced at me again. I smiled at her and then I closed my eyes.

moral of the story

If we were in Japan, our ipods would send out signals to each other, and we’d know when we were near another person who likes the same songs that we do.

But we’re not in Japan. So all we can do is imagine, and then empathize.


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Posted in Catholicism, Houston, materialism, music, pop culture, stories, superstition, the bus on 07/30/2008 12:22 am

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