Friday, February 25, 2011
The Accidental Traveller
Somewhat typically, I got lost again when I started looking for the bus stop when I left the optometrist. I read intermittently on the way home, but the people scenery was too interesting. Firstly at the bus stop I noticed the teenage girls- who all looked the same- flirting with the teenage boys thirty or forty feet away. One of the girls yelled out ‘you look hot!’, which was a ‘come on’ gesture if ever I’ve heard one.
On the bus, there was a bald retarded man sitting next to another sullen man with a scraggly beard and dishevelled clothing. They were looking at their DVD copy of a Tom Cruise film called ‘Knight and Day’ as if it was a first edition of ‘War and Peace’ or ‘Ulysses.’
At the first stop a youngish black man got on, wearing high boots and a black shirt unbuttoned all the way down exposing an unremarkable chest. He was very unhappy and restless and definitely ‘had issues’ to use a colloquial phrase. His feet jutted out of the aisle too much, and a nice woman brushed past them as she walked to the back of the bus. He grimaced when she said sorry as if she had trodden on his toes wearing screw in football boots. A bit later another woman, with a pram this time, also touched his feet as she sauntered past, also saying sorry. Very decent these women! His petulant retort was ‘no you’re not!’ which took her aback. He had some papers in his hand which he scrutinized carefully all the way. They didn’t look like a big deal to me, but he held them as if they were some precious, mysterious letters. When he got off the bus, the bus driver waved and said ‘thanks very much!’, and the black man ignored him completely! He limped as he got off which reminded me a lot of Crooks from ‘Of Mice and Men’, so suddenly I felt sorry for him.
Not long before my journey’s end, with not much more of ‘The Accidental Tourist’ read, a young Asian couple got and sat opposite me. She wore tracksuit pants and had a gaping hole up her sleeve so you could see her whole black bra if you wanted to. She looked about eighteen. Her boyfriend? also looked eighteen, and he had the languid look of irresponsibility about him. His pants were loose and his underwear showed and he grinned a lot as if he was incredibly carefree. Except he wasn’t. The two of them had a toddler still in a pram, a sad, sullen looking boy, with the sort of expression you would have on your face if you had young parents who were really not very ready for you to come along. I felt sorry for her. She looked like she cared deeply, and was doing her best to be a responsible parent. The partner, on the other hand, was very distracted and didn’t take a lot of notice of his child. There were, however, two telling incidents. The first was when he lunged, suddenly, for his boy and ran his big brown hand over his kid’s hair in an aggressive and over the top fashion which hurt the little boy. A few minutes later he casually grabbed one of his cheeks and pulled it vigorously and caused the poor little boy to grimace and well up in tears. The mother laughed, it seemed, out of not wanting to clash with her partner, but it probably pained her. The boy was stoic though. His face became resolute and determined and he shrugged this off as just another incident in a bewildering day out with mum and dad.