Conversation Overheard While Waiting For The Bus
“My mom,” the young woman told her companion, “is one of those people who is absolutely sure of her opinion and that she has the ONLY way to think. You know, she tells me that EVERYONE in the porn business, EVERYONE must have been molested and is in the business because they’ve suffered and are DEEPLY, DEEPLY disturbed. But I told her, Mom, really, that’s just not true. Honest – I was never molested and I’m in the porn business and know plenty of people in the business that are NOT messed up. She doesn’t believe me and wants me to go to therapy. Imagine. She’s just nuts”
Sitting on the bus bench, I stared politely over the top of this girl’s head and past her boyfriend at a somewhat scraggly little tree which sheltered at least a dozen finches (who were oddly still and quiet – perhaps as astounded by this girl’s revelation as I), and tried hard not to laugh or snort or guffaw, or appeal to the young woman to stop torturing her mother with proclamations about the porn business, or tell her to seek therapy right away, or plead with her that if she couldn’t at least quit the porn business, could she at least not discuss it in public, at the top of her lungs, whilst sitting on the bus bench next to me for I really don’t need to add to my worries and don’t wish to wake up in a cold sweat at half past two in the morning worrying about some silly girl in an orange rag roll sweater who apparently is in the porn business – though I know not what aspect of the business she’s in. No, I said none of this. I bit my tongue with more force and endeavor than I have ever had to with my daughter or son – I was quite sure I would make it bleed (calloused though it be from other tongue-biting occasions – children will do that to you, you know), but that was not the case. Thankfully, before the girl could continue, the bus pulled up, the doors opened, and we boarded – the young couple moving to the back of the bus, while I stayed near the front, sitting next to a young man dressed in a leather vest and scruffy blue jeans, and sporting two tattoo sleeves (snakes coiling and circling up his arms) and a row of Celtic crosses tattooed across his forehead (I do believe it was permanent tattoo, not a temporary one for the work was quite good). He smiled at me when I sat down, and through crooked yet white teeth said in a cowboy drawl so completely incongruent with his dress, “Afernoon, ma’m.” And although I detest the respectful “ma’m” (it really does make me feel old – who are these young whippersnappers to age me so?), I smiled at him and responded, “Yes, it’s a lovely afternoon, isn’t it?” And it really was, despite the grey clouds overhead and the slight chill in the air.
He smiled back and offered me a peppermint, which I accepted gratefully. I wished I’d had something to offer him in return, but I had nothing in my bag except a few crumbs of chocolate nestled inside the balled-up candy wrapper and a brown apple core rapped in a paper towel.
When the bus rolled up to my stop, I stepped down and onto the curb, turned and waved good-bye to the bus. The young man waved back, and as the bus lumbered by, I saw the porn girl, her nose pressed against the glass of the rear window, grinning at me. I shouldered my bag, walked the three blocks up the hill to my place and called my children, grateful to hear their voices and relieved that neither is in the porn business (though one does have two tattoos).