bulwark against gentrification
OVERWHELMINGLY SOCIAL TRANSIT SYSTEM
Charlie is a short, elderly, retarded man who is ubiquitous on the #155 bus and on north side transit in general. I have no idea why he travels so much, but my theory is that he has some kind of job at the group home at Damen and Devon, since he often disembarks there in the early mornings. He talks to everyone and (Devon being the kind of street it is) a lot of people talk back. Me not so much, as I am not the sort to chat with strangers (although boy howdy do they ever want to chat with me), but I am aware of Charlie and know that his name is Charlie from my near-constant eavesdropping.
When I said up there that Charlie was retarded and talks to everyone, you may have been picturing a open-faced, sunny-natured, gentle guy, since we've all been brainwashed into thinking of retarded people in that way by Special Olympics propaganda and Touching-Life-Lesson afterschool specials. That's not Charlie. Charlie is a tense and angry retarded person who swears a lot. Every sentence of Charlie's is studded with profanity like raisin bread is studded with raisins. (More regrettable figurative language, to you from me! My Simile/Metaphor License totally needs to be revoked.)
(Now because of that raisin-bread thing I am goofily imagining people's utterances as slices of bread emerging from their mouths. Dropping pumpernickel like Truman dropped the bomb! Toast my slice and you'll know I'm a phenomenon!)
Yesterday, while waiting for the bus in the pouring rain and shivering under my flimsy umbrella, Charlie squelched up in soaked clothing and said, “Where's that motherfucking bus!” Because I had pretty much been wondering the same thing, I replied, “I don't know.”
“That bus is a motherfucker!” said Charlie.
Starting to warm to the spirit of this exchange, I said, “You're too fucking right! That bus fucking sucks!”
“Cocksucking motherfucking bus,” Charlie mused, looking suddenly morose and resigned. Then he pulled out a cell phone and said, “New phone!”
“Who are you going to call?” I asked.
“I don't know. Some asshole,” said Charlie, and at this I started cracking up, which totally confused him and seemed to make him angry. In fact, when that cocksucking motherfucking bus did arrive, Charlie declined to get on board and was still standing in the rain muttering obscenities as we pulled away. Sorry Charlie.
THE EXACTLY WRONG KIND OF SOCIAL
After work, waiting for the same bus going in the other direction, I was enjoying the Russian Futurists on my iPod. Even though the iPod itself was in my pocket I guess the white earbuds and cord gave away its brand name to onlookers, because a Volkswagen waited at the light and after a few seconds I realized that the guy inside was trying to get my attention. I glanced his way and he held up his own iPod and waggled it at me, smiling, and huh? Okay dude, we are iPod buddies. Whatever.
SOCIAL THAT STARTED OUT OKAY, THEN TURNED ICKY
That SAME DAY, the most talking-to-strangers day that has occurred in recent memory (could it be spring that is doing this to people? Does the onset of spring weather make people want to chat, the way it makes me want to take hallucinogens and superglue a row of foil-covered poker chips onto the rail of a fire escape?),* I was reading Pattern Recognition on the train and the skinny, nervous, business-casual guy next to me abruptly asked, “Do you like that book?”
“So far,” I said. “I only just started it.”
“He'll never do anything as great as Neuromancer,” my seatmate sighed, as much to himself as to me, and then went back to reading his own book (try as I might with my shitty peripheral vision, I could not see the title).
This just made me mad for some reason. Why would you make a statement like that? Can you predict the future? Are you trying to ruin this book for me? If you don't think Pattern Recognition is as good as Neuromancer, fine, but please frame that as a statement of opinion. As for me, I already like this book better than Neuromancer—my personal taste runs toward science fiction of the subtler sort, and I prefer that alternaworlds not play too large a role, particularly not reactionary and antique-seeming alternaworlds.
So then I was grumpy all the rest of the way to work. The rest of the day was full of the death-by-thousands-of paper-cuts type of annoyances. A pen went suicide-bomber all over my hand. I attended a meeting that was purported to include lunch, and discovered that “lunch” in this case meant “chicken sandwiches,” and while I am not the type to throw a hissy fit about no non-meat options, I am also not the type to enjoy a lunch of potato chips + apple, which causes me to imagine the evil trans-fats and good fibrous vitamins fighting it out in my stomach all afternoon. I read this editorial in the Guardian about the Madrid bombing, which left me open-mouthed and astonished. While I by no means wish to kill them all and let God sort them out, so to speak, YOU HAVE GOT TO BE SHITITNG ME with this suggestion that an “international conference to bridge the divide between Christians and Muslims” is an appropriate response to the murder of two hundred commuters.
*I figured I would finally make the link between the vernal equinox and my nostalgic urge for hallucinogens explicit, in case you could not infer it from the way I have been letting all these little college drug anecdotes (the pig carcass/FBI story, this latest poker chip/fire escape thing) dribble out.
ENTIRELY TOO SOCIAL
There is a bakery, visible from the El, with a sign claiming that it has been BAKING WITH PASSION FOR TWENTY YEARS. Forgive me, but the “passion” part sounds entirely too much like a euphemism for “we jack off into the cupcake batter” for my taste.
—mimi smartypants gave her love a cherry that had no stone.