It used to be that when I was outside walking along and somebody was intently engaged in a conversation with themselves that I would try not to stare at them, but usually did anyway, and depending on the serious urgency in which they were involved, I would either smile to myself knowing that: a.) they were insane but harmless, or b.) completely out of their minds and convinced that they were receiving instructional radio waves from outer space. Only in the really severe cases, where a lot of violent gesturing was being exhibited and the dialog was of the “I’m gonna kill you” variety, did I then give them a wide berth and make sure that they had in fact really passed by instead of sneaking back around behind me for an unprovoked attack from the rear.
Of course these days one can’t just dismiss anyone as crazy when they are talking to themselves because nine out of ten times, if you look closely, there’s either a little black wire running down their jacket’s front from an earpiece that’s connected to their cell phone. Or they turn their head and they’ve got that full-on operator’s headset with the extended microphone sticking out like they’re up on stage lip-synching. And all modesty aside, it seems that just being on the telephone gives them an excuse to talk about any personal subject that they want. After all just because their out and about in public and we happened to be forced to share the very same space as they do doesn’t mean a damn thing to them other than another human being is taking up the air that they were meant to be breathing.
Yet my most recent and hopefully my last ride on public transit consisted of what you might call a duet of the old and the new. For as usual I was sitting all the way in the back of the bus with the regular group of misfits and degenerates, the younger of which were busying themselves writing hieroglyphics across every available flat surface with these giant black felt tip markers. While the gentleman seated directly across the aisle from me was slowly inebriating himself with a very large bottle of beer and indulging in a conversation with no one in particular. But still it was quite animated and even though he’d pause now and then for a drink of his beer he’d go right back to making his point of view known to whoever it was that he was talking to.
“They can’t do this to me god damn it! Not after 20 years of givin’ money away, they can’t just cut me off!”
And yes, I had looked to see if he indeed did have a cell phone or one of those headphone contraptions. But as I had already suspected he didn’t and seeing as we were way out in the outer Mission riding on the number 14 bus, where a lot of people tend to either talk to themselves or scream at people that they don’t even know, not a whole lot of people riding along with us paid him much mind, even when he was impulsively shouting out almost in pain over his perceived injustices.
“Only get 800 a month, it’s not a lot, but it’s all I mother fuckin’ got!”
Having sputtered out that last statement, he was immediately cut short because we were then all of us holding on for dear life as the bus driver swerved sharply to the right to gain the curb lane so that he could dislodge a few passengers at the next stop, and as we were all then busy coming up off of the floor or righting ourselves in our seats a woman came running up banging on the bus’s side in hopes that the driver wouldn’t do his usual routine and take off in her face, and as she got on she was rather busy talking on her cell phone and seeing as all the seats at the front of the bus were full she was compelled to walk down the aisle toward the rear and take a seat about halfway between the backdoor and the actual back of the bus where I and the mumbling beer drinker were seated amongst the young graffiti artists. And yeah, she was sort of dressed nice except she had one of those hairdos that must take a few days to construct as it was going around in more than a few directions and this one braid was either orbiting the rest of her head or it had somehow gotten lose and was trying to find its way home. But still it looked like she had a large antenna sticking haphazardly out, though if she did it wasn’t working properly because she was talking so loud on that damn phone of hers as if the person on the other end couldn’t hear her. And it was pretty obnoxious even if you weren’t listening to the conversation.
“No babe, I gotta go ta da doctor agin! If’n dey do’na drain um dey keep gittin’ lahja!”
However semi-intriguing as that last statement was it didn’t leave me really wanting to know anymore, but from her earnest intent I was thoroughly convinced that I was in for a lot more information than I had ever wanted to know about what this woman was gonna have drained and why!
“Nah, I gotz ’em onna ma azz and inna ma nay nay!”
This was already starting to sound really bad, yet the bus was only just crossing 25th Street and it was miles until I was gonna be able to get off on Third and walk the rest of my way home!
“Ma nay nay! Ya knows, ma cooz!”
Ok, so if it was me talking away like that, and believe me it wouldn’t be, because for some strange reason I get all self-conscious just saying “I love you” in public to my sister in New York City when she calls and I happen to be strolling down Market Street or busy buying CDs in the Haight and I actually decide to answer my cell phone. But here was a woman describing some sort of oozing protuberances on her private parts yet she couldn’t just say my “Love Canal” or spell out V-A-G-I-N-A, so that we could all just breathe easier and go on with our lives and be able to think of something other than her inner regions. Only she had to use cute yet obscure names for her reproductive organs so that even whoever she was talking to couldn’t quite comprehend what it was that she was yammering on about.
“Sump’in ta do wit har falcules ‘n press-per-a-shun!”
And it was at this point that I almost pulled the “let me off at the next stop” cable that was hanging somewhat attached to the side of the bus above the window. Yet the next statement that I heard wasn’t about coozes and just the idea of the impending mix that was on its way kept me glued to my seat because this was going to a rather strange combination of one sided conversations if it continued.
“Fucked me real good in the ass!”
“Nah baby, if’n I do’na go I might x-plode down air!”
“Waited until I was fifty five and then they reamed me good they did!”
“Ah babe, I can still hav sex!”
“No Vaseline either the bastards!”
“Nah, I do’na thank it’s a munich-a-ble.”
Its moments like these that I’m only too glad that I actually do own an automobile, no matter how decrepit it is, and I don’t have to rely on public transportation to navigate my way around the city streets. Though there was a fleeting moment of thinking that I’d better take this woman and wrap her in plastic to protect my tattered upholstery and then drive her to the nearest clinic before we all ended up getting the ooze!
“Wah da ya mean ya ain’t cummin’ ova ta-nite!”