brace yourself

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a show produced by my friend Carly. Carly and a couple of friends had rented out a gallery/performance space, a converted garage in Roscoe Village. Carly sang songs, Avery displayed her paintings and sculpture, and Rhea staged a fashion show. The garage wasn’t air conditioned, so people were buying water and soda and alcohol to cool themselves.

After the show, I thought about taking a cab home. I decided to take the bus so I could save myself some money. Out on Belmont Avenue, there was a slight breeze that cooled my slightly sweaty neck. The bus that arrived after a 10 minute wait had working a/c.

I chose a seat right behind a slight woman, a woman who appeared to have some flesh colored bandages on her nose, jaw, and neck. She must have noticed me peering at her face, as she drew herself back from me as I walked past, bracing herself against the window. When I sat behind her, she turned to look at me with a weird sort of side-long glance. She held her gaze on me for a minute, then turned around and went back to her bracing, sitting stiffly in her seat.

I felt terrible, that I had maybe made her feel self-conscious, but in my defense I kinda give everybody on the bus a good look when I get on. It’s not just about finding a seat, but the right seat. If I can’t get a seat that’s next to an empty spot, then I have to scan my fellow passengers and quickly decide which among them is going to be the least offended at having to sit next to a fat lady.

Those folks who don’t immediately sort of inhale, freeze, and get this look in their eyes that says “Oh I hope that fat bitch doesn’t sit next to me. I hope I don’t get the fatz from her.” But then, you don’t want to sit next to the dude who looks way too happy to have you sit next to him because once you do you may find that he’ll start using your arm as a headrest. Or start taking up more space with his legs so he keeps bumping into you.

I understand that as a spinster single lady that maybe, just maybe, rubbing up against strange menfolk on the bus could actually be a good thing. But I’m not sure I want to explain to people that I met my latest boyfriend when he started rubbing his thighs all over me on the bus. Where’s the romance in that?


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