After school I take the bus across the city, out into the lonely, depressing suburbs. Sometimes funny stuff happens on the bus – mostly it’s just the people. Weird people can be found literally every day on the 102 – today there was a tall guy who looked like he’d just jumped out of 1969, complete with beard, sunglasses, long hair and shorts. (It was -5 today.) I don’t understand people who wear shorts in the winter. I especially don’t understand people with bony, hairy legs who wear shorts in the winter. You’d think they’d never want to wear shorts.
Mostly I feel pretty invisible on the bus – I find a seat, (today beside a really fat lady who took up, literally, both seats, so I had a tiny sliver to sit on, but I’ve had worse bus-seat-partners), and then I close my eyes and listen to music, trying to tune out all the anxiety. I think I’ve memorized all the stops now; first there’s the main one downtown where I get on, then it goes down to the next little stop beneath the big office building – then we go on the highway, and off by the apartment buildings, and down into the freaky underground tunnels where a lot of people get on from St. Laurent. (I love the tunnels, they’re like a sci-fi movie, all dark and artificially-lit), and then we go back out and after a while onto the highway, towards Orleans. I get off and walk a while to our condominium (my cat is currently smelling my laptop and pushing his nose against it like he wants my attention, I fed you already! Who are you trying to fool?) and our condo is some kind of “French subsidized housing” which means everyone is from Haiti. I don’t know why. They just are. Because it’s French, all the maintenance guys are French too, so once in a while we get random phone calls where gruff French guys ramble about needing to fix the heating or whatever. Last time I struggled to understand an issue about frozen toilets.
My French is pretty good, but I don’t know if you’ve ever heard Quebecois French – it’s really fast and has some weird Frenchisized English words thrown in randomly that seem to do nothing but make it even harder to figure out.
After I got off the bus and headed towards home, I came across a fat guy walking along. He was wearing a black fedora and a black-and-yellow sweater, so he looked like a giant bee with jeans. I walked faster to get around him, and then as soon as I was starting to pull ahead he sped up and got ahead of me. I was kind of confused, but I didn’t try to walk faster than him too, as if I was trying to meet his challenge. But he really put on the speed once he realized I was going to pass him. I imagine he was thinking ‘Hey, no way some skinny fag is gonna outpace me.’
Whatever. I don’t understand people most of the time.
The bus is actually really interesting, if only for the people. People, like I said, are weird. There’s no way around it. They just are. I happily accept the fact that I’m kind of weird myself – but next to some of the crazies that get on the 102, I’m practically Your Average Canadian Teenager. (Which I’m definitely not.) I once had to sit next to an old guy whose shoulder kept touching mine. It made me kind of uncomfortable. And there’s a really tall, skinny boy who’s probably my age who has the same kind of “general awkwardness” thing as me going on. He always stands right in front of the door but steps aside hurriedly when I’m about to get off. I’m considering one day attempting to make friends with him, but I don’t know how you make bus-friends. I think it’s different than making regular friends, because there’s this attitude on the bus where people stay quiet and wrapped up in their own worlds, and there’s not a lot of social stuff going on.
My cat is standing in a patch of sunlight looking majestic.
The bus is still a giant pot of anxiety for me, for all that I turn up my music and try to keep my eyes closed most of the time. I always hope that no one will sit next to me, but then I worry I’ll look weird if no one’s sitting next to me. I half-hope for harmless old people, because honestly it’s a lot more anxiety-producing when a young person sits beside me – especially teenagers. I feel like teenagers are somehow more dangerous than old people, and they might be more inclined to look at me weirdly or something. Plus they’re always on their phones and I have an issue with staring at people’s phones. I don’t know why I do it. However, since September I’ve discovered something: middle-aged to old women tend to play Bejeweled and Candy Crush on their phones, (almost pathologically), while teenagers text, (pathologically.) Teenagers text pathologically everywhere, though, not just on the city bus. Whenever there’s free time in class the first thing people do is pull out their phones. The girl that sits next to me in English class always reads long, complicated-looking things on her phone in Chinese. I’m fascinated by whatever that is she’s doing.
Anyways. Now the neighborhood cat came by and my cat is going insane. The orange cat just sits there, completely ignoring my cat, while he goes crazy scratching the balcony door and making little tortured ‘mew’ sounds. I don’t understand cats. Or people. Or things in general, for that matter.
I took a picture. There’s the orange cat (we named him Vaudeville for some reason, not like he has anything to do with the cigar-smoking gravekeeper from my book), and my cat, losing his marbles as Vaudeville ignores him and sits happily on our balcony. Cats, man. Whatever.
~ The Cellar Boy