Skip to main content

On the bus


"Now you may ask, what if my characters won't talk to me? What if they won't even visit? The only answer is to think and think some more, and then go out and read and look and listen some more. Do not sit and mope. Do not sigh. Do not throw up your hands and give up on the whole project. Do not go back to the drawing board. There is nothing more depressing than an empty drawing board. No, go back to the world, which is where all characters originally come from."
 ALLEGRA GOODMAN

I crossed paths with a pair of  Natural Born Killers tonight. Their voices grabbed my attention as I strode through the sunlit plaza connecting my office building with the transit center.

The man -- we'll call him Mickey -- dressed in blue Adidas track pants, a wife beater and a flat-bill DC baseball cap -- was scratching violently at his face and arms.  His girlfriend, Mallory -- in a matching wife beater -- screamed at Mickey from across the bus bay, "Stop f***ing picking at yourself, you f *** ing idiot."

Their appearance encouraged me to check the status of my purse several times before we boarded the bus. While we stood their amid a crowd of pinstriped professionals -- Mallory began shouting out the route number -- "It's the f***ing 535." She said it over and over again -- a little louder each time -- for no apparent reason.

I found myself tempted to engage them on the journey home. Mallory was playing club tracks on her cell phone, demanding Mickey "give it" to her "RIGHT NOW."

"Oh my f***ing God," she trilled. "I can't believe I allowed myself to do that -- I mean look at me I'm totally naked."

I looked around in hopes that another passenger would react to this spiraling freak show, but nobody seemed to notice. They weren't even roused by the racket of Mallory's palms smacking hard against Mickey's head. I was just getting ready to say something, when Mallory's phone rang -- it was her mother.

"They were doing my drug test, bitch," she shouted.

I assumed from our first encounter at the bus stop that Mickey and Mallory were a couple of tweekers. Now I wondered if they were armed, murderous, sociopaths. I looked around one last time and took my cue from the rest of the passengers. I spent the rest the bus ride home with my nose in my book.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The insecure writer's support group

The ground is important -- for several reasons.

Among them

Gravity makes no sense without it -- there's no mandate that science be logical so long as our scientists are the smartest smartypants on the planet, in which case "because I said so" is an acceptable explanation. The ground is important, because it's something to build on -- a starting point, a foundation.

I respect the ground, because it has on occasion fallen out from under me, and it's rather unsettling to watch your life in free-fall mode -- to see your accomplishments disintegrate in an instant or a decade in some cases. It all depends on how fast you're falling.

Most of us drop in slow motion. We'll catch a ledge or an up draft every once in a while and think "this is it!" But then we go on falling. Or do we? Is the "bottom" just a figment of our imaginations? Can we lay new ground wherever we choose?


Ask Alice

None of my friends growing up were impressed with Disney's…

Writers get laid

Writers get laid -- or they would if they tried -- because people -- especially women -- are impressed by the phrase, "I'm a writer." It's romantic.

Introducing yourself as a writer insinuates substance and depth of character; people like that. They don't know why, except that one-dimensional characters on T.V. sitcoms and big-screen romantic comedies prattle on and on about the whole package -- a good looking, funny, intelligent single with rock-solid values and money.

People admire the skill and dedication it takes to be a novelist or a journalist or a screen writer  -- "I always wanted to be a writer," they tell you with stars in their eyes.

Whether they know it's a myth or not they imagine us in rich, thrilling lives with sports cars and beach houses and Louboutin shoes like Carrie Bradshaw. So the woman at the grocery store doesn't feel bad when she puts back the US Weekly she read cover to cover before she checks out.

Or downloading unauth…

My favorite geeks

Imagine a little girl in pink granny glasses. Her haircut gives her a boyish look and she’s dressed in a purple checked sweater with red high waters and electric-blue duck shoes. A couple of kids on the playground tell her how cool she looks, and -- not comprehending their sarcasm -- she smiles brightly and thanks them.
That was me -- the dork in ginormous glasses. I answered to many names in elementary school -- loser, duck feet, four eyes and a few others I'd rather forget -- smart, pretty and fashionable I was not. It felt like the end of the world back then. All the popular girls braided each other's hair during story time at the library while I picked my nose and talked to myself. 
I'm not ashamed to admit it. I was a dork -- as big a dork as it's possible to be -- and it gave me character. I think Lester Bangs said it best : "Good-looking people don't have any spine. Their art never lasts."
No one called 4-year-old Paris Hilton -- or Lindsay Lohan or B…