Wednesday, June 06, 2007

the italicized above

did you ever wish you could temporarily suspend your senses for a little while so you could take a mental vacation? i think i might be struggling with sensory overload right now.

on the way home from work, i had to catch the bus i caught. why couldn't i have caught another bus? let me explain. there was another passenger on the bus who was listening to headphones that were so loud that i could hear every word and horn line in the song from several seats away. i wanted so badly to tap that person on the shoulder and tell them, "you're going to ruin your hearing like that." i have in fact done that a few times before. you know, there's a certain way that you can talk to strangers in which there doesn't have to be an issue between you and them, just chatter. i know how to do that, and i like to do that. i'm no fool - i stay away from taboo topics like telling girls with the muffin-top effect what not to wear, or telling women how not to speak to their children - some things will only lead to altercations. i haven't been in one in my whole adult life, and i'm not trying to start. this whole italicized section will become much more important - keep on reading - i will refer you back to this.

at some stop, we pick up a passenger who sits right next to me. i picked my head up from the affordable housing article i was reading and i started being friendly, chattering to her jokingly about how that person with the headphones was ruining their hearing and if they were within arm's reach i would tap them on the shoulder and tell them so. she agreed, the music was so loud she could hear it clearly, too. i joked about the person's eardrums screaming for help - she laughed, i laughed, all was well in bus land. she said that you have to be careful though because you don't always know who you're talking to, and some people might wanna... at which point i told her the italicized above, and added something like, "how am i gonna just get punked by the idea of talking to a stranger when i don't even know them like that? part of the reason people don't talk to each other now is because people aren't used to talking - that ain't right." she told me i did have a point.

shortly after i got back into my article -which i still haven't finished - the girl next to me recognized someone she knew on the bus.

nicole turns around, but doesn't see anyone she recognizes.
nicole turns around again but still can't see who's calling her.
"you hear me talking to you, dag! NICOLE!"
finally some eye contact. "hey!"
"where you stay at, nicole?"
"number street and cross-street."
"oh for real? i stay at othernumber street and othercross-street all the time."
"oh that's not too far. i be through that way sometimes."

chatter chatter chatter... move it along folks, nothing to see here. UNTIL:

"yeah, nicole, i be at the chinese store sometimes, such-and-such a place, or right at the corner."
"yeah, i got them 25's... them 75's... them 25's will get you, for real. they be lasting for a long time."


"i be out there all the time, nicole. i usually have my kids with me. i got three kids. people be like, 'you be hustling with your kids,' i be like, 'yeah.' "
"i might have to come through for one of those 25's, you know how i do."
"you know how i do too."
"you do it with your kids?"
"no, just the first one, my daughter. she alright though, she just got asthma, but that runs in my family, so she probably woulda got it anyway. my other son, he was five [lbs] ten [oz], but ain't nothing wrong with him now. i got asthma... my mom got it... my youngest son, he's on a machine... but i didn't do it with the other kids."
"that's good."
"i mean, i don't know with my kids if it was my family or me, but yeah, but i do smoke though. people say if you're going to do it, just don't do the cigarettes too, but i do what i wanna do, shoooot, i smoke whatever i want. i smoke both!"
"i know that's right!"
"but forget me, though - my mom! my mom been smoking for years. my mom can smoke and smoke... maaan..."

and this whole time i was sitting here thinking, naw they playing. ain't no way somebody is gonna be all up on this bus putting their business out like that, and all loud where everybody can hear everything you're saying. they are joking. they have to be playing. but smokey the bear and nicole just kept on going like they were actually for real until we came to my stop and both i and the woman who was sitting on the other side of smokey the bear got off the bus.

i couldn't help it. "did i just hear what i thought i heard?"
"yes, you did. and i didn't want to hear it, but i heard it too."
"i can't believe that she would just say all of that for everyone to hear, where she is, EVERYTHING."
"i know. i heard you talking to her earlier and was thinking how is this same girl..."
"i KNOW. and it's funny, i had just got finished telling her the italicized above, but i mean, what are you supposed to say to that?"

i was already thinking about my blog, y'all.

the lady from the bus and i had our friendly stranger chatted a little bit more. for the second time that day i was reminded by her that you never know how somebody will react to you talking to them. i offered her the story of when i was on the bus and these two women were arguing really loudly about how one of them, a social worker, threatened to call the authorities on the other one, who had a child in her lap, for how she had threatened the child with some bodily harm. i told the lady who was walking with me that i am a poet, and my poet friends and i are always talking about the community, and how we all need to be accountable for each other. but i asked her rhetorically how i was supposed to be accountable for smokey the bear on the bus? tell her about how she shouldn't be doing what she's doing, blasting her business all out, setting a bad example for her kids, making them asthmatic and probably developmentally delayed? what could i have done as my sister's keeper for her? we got to my stop on the walk, and said "take care," in parting as she kept on walking home.

but then, as i was pulling out my keys, i heard her talking to me. she was walking towards my door saying, "mentor. be a mentor. you wanted to know what to do? be a mentor. but not to girls like her," she pointed in the direction of our bus stop.

i offered, "to those who want the help? not girls like her?"

she agreed. and with that, we parted ways for real.

i am much calmer now than i was when i sat down to write this.