Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Varly Frank Rides The Bus

The moon was low and big in the sky, huge, much larger than I’d ever remembered it being, and it was hanging there like a shield right next to the Transamerica building. The sun was washing the buildings in pink. I was riding the bus and this girl in very tight pants was standing, and let me tell you there were plenty of seats available, and she is standing there with her ass, which was nice and firm, jutting out into the aisle right next to my head. I know, right? And she starts doing these kind of maybe yoga-type stretching exercises there while she’s grabbing onto the handrail and her ass is going really close to my face, and it is one very nice ass. I feel like she’s smiling into the window, which is starting to darken with the evening and reflect some things, like her face kind of, and I really think she is smiling a little at me, but I really can’t be sure because I am like really trying to pretend that I am looking out the window and that I am very interested in the scenery or whatever. It was that time of day when the sun is just going down and the moon is starting to rise on the other side of the horizon, and, like I said, the moon was low and big and the sun was painting all the buildings in coats of gold and yellow, and the beige bricks of buildings were starting to fade into the pastel colors common to that crepuscular time of day. It was nice out. Picture fucking perfect. So, this lady has her posterior, which like I said was very firm and tight in those pants and doing all kinds of shaking and gyrating, right there next to my head, and I am just sitting there, towards the back of an almost empty bus with like plenty of fucking seating room, and I’m trying to pretend that I am like totally not at all interested in anything Ms. Ass-shaker is doing, but also at the same time not being able to help myself from glancing over from time to time, taking these flitting peaks at her performance. She would put a foot up on one of the plastic bucket seats, slightly bend over, and do this arabesque kind of thing, with her ass, yep, going out and banging around like a speed bag bumping along there, uh huh, right by my motherfucking head. I know. It was nuts. You can’t make shit like this up. So, this firecracker yoga chick is doing all these bends and…ow…shit. Sorry. I cut my fucking thumb on my shampoo bottle this morning and it hurts like a motherfucker. I think I need to change this Band-Aid or something. It’s getting kind of frayed there, look. Yeah. That’s some nasty shit. Aw. Fuck, that fucking stings. Shit. Okay. So, anyway, this freaky yoga chick is like really getting my prurience up, you know, and so I’m sitting there doing my best Mr. Disinterested/Oblivious impersonation, trying to be as surreptitious as possible, and this chick starts like rubbing up against one of the metal poles. I swear. I am not bullshitting you one finger-licking-good iota. This is not fucking speculative. I am not some fictional avatar, some goddamn fallible narrator invented merely to give you this slice-of-life anecdote so you can make your judgments and form your opinions and make yourselves all feel better about being the morally impeccable people that you can now imagine yourselves to be. No. This is just something that happened to me. This is not realism. This is not someone trying to carefully craft a make-believe world out of reality. I am not trying to control events. So, just listen. Okay? Damn. My finger’s killing me. So, so, so, so…Um. Where was I? Oh yeah. This girl is rubbing her luscious bod on the pole, not so much like a stripper really, I know that’s what you’re thinking. It’s more just like this subtly sensual motion, kind of sinuous and lithe, and she seems to be really lost in her own little space, like she doesn’t even know where she is really, as if she’s existing somewhere else and that none of us are around, that the bus itself may not even be there as far as she’s concerned. It’s kind of like she’s a mime performing a dumbshow in front of a mirror for nobody but herself. So I, of course, start to check her out a bit more. You know, I’m casting my eyes over there, looking at her in the window’s reflections. The windows by this point are starting to fill up more with darkness, and the lights outside are coming on, and this bus’s interior lights are starting to seem brighter, shining this very glaring white fluorescence all over stuff. It was harder to see things outside, but it was much easier to see people’s reflections in the windows. I saw an old man picking his nose. That wasn’t interesting to me. But, I have to admit, I saw it. It happened. I ain’t going to be bullshitting you about stuff. See? So. So. So. The bus was starting to feel somehow smaller, more of a world unto itself. There didn’t seem to be room for anything else in the world. I know. That seems odd. So. Anyway. This chick is getting real into her slithering dance there, holding onto the pole, sliding up and down and shaking that ass, and shit, I mean, shit, I know how that sounds, but really, really shaking that ass. What else can I say? There must’ve been music playing in her mind or something, because she was really rocking out, very rhythmically too, like she was moving to a beat, and her hands would slide up and down the pole and her mouth would be very close to the pole too as her whole body moved up and down and her ass shook, shook, and shook. You know, the pole, it was one of those metal grab rail poles they have on buses. It was pretty shiny too. Her head was kind of shaking around and I could see her lips puckering some when I looked at her reflection in the mirror. I felt like a damn voyeur, but I couldn’t stop myself from staring. And I was also starting to feel like she either (a) didn’t care, (b) couldn’t tell I was watching her, or (c) wanted me to be watching her, you know, like she was doing the whole thing just for my benefit. I know how that must sound, like I’m some real conceited son-of-a-bitch or something, or that I have, what, if not a, um, solipsistic view of things, you know, that I think I am the fucking center of the whole entire universe and that everything on this oblate spheroid only happens because of me, for my benefit, that it is I who am the one sole focal point of all the world’s eyes. But, let me promise you, this most assuredly is not the case. I won’t go into it here, but let’s just not take it for granted that I am a very un-egotistic individual, very munificent and kind to my fellow humans, almost completely unattached from this mortal coil that contains me, just a spectating specter drifting haplessly around the fringes of things, a silent impartial observer of the mundane and ordinary. Generally I don’t go in for such forays into the realms of logic and philosophical speculation, but maybe there is no precedent for this type of thing and I don’t want to get pigeon-holed into being something that I am not. I am not a bad person. Now, that doesn’t mean, you know, it’s not like I said that I am a good person. That would be something different all together. Just being not bad doesn’t make you good, per se. Um. But, there is probably something significant in the difference betwixt them. What that is, well, I just can’t quite understand it enough yet to be able to relate it to you in any kind of clear or understandable way. So my staring at her was something that was happening. It just was. That’s that. Sure, I would dart my eyes hither and thither, taking in the sights—the silvery sandpaper-like floor, the felt-pen graffiti all over the orange plastic coating of the bucket seats, the tiny letters etched into the windows reading, “Acrylic Plexiglas, Polymer Dot Shapes,” and the dual-purpose safety vent in the ceiling that was closed down and latched tight, thank God, shit, it was cold, you know. I was also doing a lot of yawning and sighing, and also this thing where I would close my eyes as if I were suffering some kind of sudden twinge of pain, a headache or something, and would rub my temples with my index fingers for a few seconds. It was all subterfuge, a distraction to take some perceived person’s attention away from me, or from the fact that I was so slyly checking out this yoga-bending-pole-dancing chick whose ass, let me remind you, was right in my fucking face. But who was this “perceived person”? Who was this outsider whom I somehow figured to be watching me? Was it her? Nah. I don’t think that was it. It was like I was performing for a camera, like I was trapped inside a part I had to play on a movie set and I couldn’t get out of it no matter what I did, it was all just a performance for somebody else’s benefit, and, yeah, it was the same with her too, shit, it was like we were both picking up on some a priori mode of existing, some fucking rubicund of the mind that once we crossed we couldn’t ever get back over again, back to the other side of perceiving things, and it was a place where we were both the observing other and the one caught in the gaze at the same time. It was a real motherfucking byzantine conundrum. There was nowhere to go with it. So I just sat there doing all of these things, making these motions to draw attention away from the fact that my attention was like really fucking glued on this chick, who was really not noticing, at least as far as I could tell, anything besides herself. I started to feel real stymied, like I couldn’t get out of this mold, this set-in-stone way of being. As for getting up and moving to another seat, or pretending that I was going to be getting off at the next stop and getting up to stand by the door, shit, forget about it. I was fucking buried in this moment. And nothing I could do seemed like it would ever exhume me from the moment that I was ensnared in. It was a lost cause. I just decided to try and wait it out, to see what would happen next. On the floor by my feet there was some gummy substance, kind of mucilaginous, you know, sticky, like somebody had spilled a coke on the floor, or something with a lot of high fructose corn syrup in it, and I started rubbing my shoes on it, and then scraping them against the seat in front of me to try to get the sticky shit off. It was stupid. I’d slide my feet over the stickum, and then try to scrape it off. I’d keep doing this, over and over. There was something very satisfactory about it, like I was performing some ablutionary act, some kind of cleansing going on. I don’t know. It was odd. But I kept doing it. It passed the time. It kept me busy. It kept my mind off the girl’s ass that was wriggling around by my head. The bus? Oh. You know. It was a newer bus. One of those one’s that are much narrower than the older ones. They don’t have as much aisle room for people to stand in. It’s hard to get by people who are standing when the bus starts to get crowded. You have to say excuse me under your breath and try to squeeze by without putting any of your body parts against the body parts of another person. It takes a good deal of contorting sometimes to negotiate the small spaces and finagle your way through. The end result is a lot of physical contact with strangers, much getting into other people’s personal space, and usually a pulled muscle or two. So, yeah, this chick’s ass was in close proximity to my face. And she wasn’t doing anything to put any extra distance between us. Me? Oh, well, I’m looking up at the vapid advertisements lining the bent space over the bus’s windows, you know, those long curved things that are kind of like gutters at a bowling alley, you know, where they slide all of those cardboard signs along? The ads just hook in and kind of bend inward in the middle, like what happens to a playing card when you palm it. It was just all of these insipid beguilements trying to tell me what to buy and what to wear and how to feel about things, trying to blarney me into doing something. It made me feel pretty damn miserable, let me tell you. I read all the words, as is my wont, and said them a few times in my head. Things like, “Text 566 to this number and get free games for your phone!” or, “Not everyone is lucky enough to have a companion. Help out a senior citizen or disabled person in need.” Just the kind of things they write on those bus advertisements. Nothing important. I kept reading. It’s hard to stop once you get started with something like this. There were these red stickers in the shape of arrows that said things like, “Please Move Back,” “Enter through front door only, Do Not Stand In Stepwell.” I started noticing a lot more of these stickers now that I was looking for them. Most of them were red with white letters. One of them said, “Emergency Exit. Pull red handle down and hold while pushing window out at bottom.” The red handle was right there and I found myself wanting desperately to pull it down for some reason. It was like having an itch you can’t scratch. But I restrained myself from doing that. I mean, it would do nothing but draw attention to me, and that was antithetical to what I wanted. Or would that be anathema? Um. Hell. Who knows? Anyways, there was another sign that said, “PLEASE HOLD ON. Sudden stops are sometimes necessary,” and another one I saw towards the front of the bus, which was blue with white letters, that read, “These seats must be vacated when wheelchair users need this space.” It had a white silhouette of a person on a wheelchair above the words. I liked that one a lot. It was unique. Oh, and, shit, there was this other sticker up by the driver that said, “Information gladly given but safety requires avoiding unnecessary conversation.” That was my favorite one. I liked how it said, “gladly given.” It was a very euphonic phrase. It made me think of cellar doors, and about all things alliterative, things that kept rolling through my mind and building on each other, one word piggy-backing on the next, and then a whole line of the them that just ended me up in this whole she-sells-sea-shells miry hodgepodge of gobbledygook mucking up my mind. It think I coughed into my hand at some point, I don’t know, some kind of tussive things to snap me back out of this trance I was putting myself in, and kind of, as they say, snapped myself back to reality, whatever the fuck reality is. So, well, um, really I guess I just didn’t want people to notice me noticing this girl. I was afraid of being looked at while I was looking at her. I know. It’s an idiotic way to be acting, but I was doing it. Shit. It was completely illogical, patently dumb and wrongheaded and preposterous. But I couldn’t stop it. I tried to think my way out of it, you know, by trying to reason with myself. But I was in an unreasonable state of consciousness at the time and wouldn’t listen to any explanatory rationality for why I was doing what I was doing, even if it was coming from myself. I decided instead to start to just think some odd thoughts, some things that would take my attention away from the shaking-ass-show for a bit. So I started contemplating things like the ephemerality of beauty, and how this ass being shaken in my face was one day no longer going to be so copaseticaly firm and taut, that eventually it too would go the way of all flesh, it would sag and loose its shape, droop, become wrinkled and padded with cellulite, and things would never be this way again. All would be lost. This moment would be nothing. All of these things would one day be gone. None of it mattered. We’d all be dust eventually. That ass would be part of a dead person some day. And then it would rot and decay, and worms would eat it, and soon it’d putrefy and shrivel up and probably become nothing but dirt in the ground. I didn’t like this line of thinking. It wasn’t getting me anywhere. I began to realize that all of this mental convolving was just another distraction, just another goldbricking attempt to avoid the situation that I was finding myself stuck in. I mean, what the fuck was I doing? Shit sticks. I was just trying to feebly, if not coyly, crawl out and away from what was happening not two fucking feet from my head. It’s absurd. I’m absurd. I’m a goddamn idiot. Why can’t I just enjoy things while they’re happening? Huh? Come on. Don’t just sit there looking so unattached, so prudent, all fucking circumspect like you’re some goddamn Penelope or something. I’m just asking you to care. Is that too much to ask? To ask you to care about me? To care about the life I’m leading and the way I see things? Isn’t this important? Stop looking at me like that. I can feel your rancor and your fucking do-gooder, holier-than-thou, righteousness, and your I’ve-heard-this-all-before, god-this-is-all-so-boring-and-meaningless, I’d-rather-be-watching-TV bullshit attitude. Come on. For fuck’s sake. This is all there is. This is all we have in this world. These things. Just like Walt Whitman, I have these things. No. No. Don’t go. Come back. I’m just kidding. Really. I’ve never even ridden on a bus in my life. It’s nothing. Come back. Like me. Like me. Please like me. I am a good person. Like me. I’m alone here. Please……hello?