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Monday, January 12, 2009

How to deal with Hospital Blues, and also Creeps on a Bus

How to deal with Hospital Blues (or How I Learned to Stop Fearing and Respect That 70's Show)
I was on the bus. I was determined to arrive at IB in a different mood than the one I left work in. Which is to say, I wanted to stop worrying about this blood pressure or that lab result and leave it at the job. Because otherwise you don't sleep. I was blasting my music accordingly. That 70's Show once had a very telling moment related to this. Before you skip it based on the source, let me tell you that this is particular clip captures a very true thing, no matter how you feel about the show. I think of this every time I leave work on a trying day. Now it's like you've read my mind. Also, the song Bad Blood is awesome.

Creeps on a Bus (or What the Deaf Girl Heard)
So I had my headphones on, ipod blasting and was deeply engrossed in the book I am currently reading.* I did not notice the man standing in front of me. I did not hear the things he was saying. I did not see the faces he was making. Until a hand came into my field of vision and turned the page I was on.

I was genuinely disturbed. I jerked my neck up quickly and came face to face with Camilo and his lady friend.

Camilo started when I jumped. "Did you seriously not hear me the whole time?" He looked around nervously. I looked around too. Everyone on the bus was staring at us. The man across the aisle from me was leaning forward in his seat, catching every word.

"I honestly didn't," I said, "I was really involved in my book and my ipod was on too loud."**

"That's a great book," offered the man sitting behind me, "McSweeny's is good too." His voice was strained.

"I love McSweeney's," I said quickly and turned back to Camilo.

Cam began to laugh. "I was so obscene," he said, "I was creeping myself out. I've been at it for a while now." Around us, passengers visibly relaxed but did not take their eyes away.

The Dave Eggers fan said, "I turned off my mp3 player when he started talking to you so I could hear him. I was ready to jump if it got any worse."

People all around us nodded in agreement. Some laughing, some smiling, one or two still completely serious, ready to jump still maybe, unsure if things could turn sour any minute.

"You could have gotten jumped," I said to Camilo, who was laughing even harder now.

"I mean, these strangers, they might have killed you!" I was laughing too.

"I totally had your back," said one of the strangers. Everyone laughed.

Cam didn't repeat any of the things he had been saying, but he assured me they were horrible, terrible things that no one should say to anyone else (again, nods from strangers, all of them smiling by now) and he realized half way through there was no way I was just ignoring him but he couldn't just give up.

We got off the bus together at Prospect Street and Awesome Literary Critic did too. "Seriously," he said, "I would have defended you. My name is Jared." He shook hands with me and Camilo both and headed down the Red Line entrance.

It's funny, because I like to think that Jared who likes Dave Eggers would have defended me. But I'm not so sure. People are funny in threatening situations. I mean, you'd think someone would have stopped Camilo before he touched my book. If he was saying truly terrible things. But it's moot. I'd rather not need defending at all. I think maybe from now on if I'm reading then my ipod needs to be at half volume. For good measure. Thanks, creepy Camilo.

* A re-read: Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which "deserves" its own post even though I have read it before. warning, this post will not come for a while but will be epic when it comes.
** This is why I missed my stop that very morning and had to back track on the Orange Line in the snow. Same book. Same play list.

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