Monday, November 03, 2003

I let fancylady test some new red earth nail enamel on my thumb last night. I forgot about it until I got to work and sat down at my desk today. Though I admired the polish’s superb coverage and deep colour, I scraped it off right then. That’s not the kind of attention I want at work. I’m sure I’m already viewed with suspicion because I don’t own a car. Amongst my coworkers (to paraphrase Christian Slater in Heathers), if you can’t smoke your tires in third gear you might as well be wearing a dress.

Just as a man with two watches never knows what time it is, a man who can catch two buses to the same destination never knows which one to take. That man would be me. I face the choice every day—99B or 9. The former gets me to the train faster, but it doesn’t come as often. Number 9 buses come in a steady stream all morning, but they stop on nearly every block and are packed by the time I reach Broadway station. I used to be picky and wait for the 99B, but now I just take whichever bus comes first. I’m happy as long as I’m moving.

If that hasn't put you into a coma yet, here’s another scenario to ponder. To get home from my parents’ place I can choose from three buses. It’s great, except that these buses stop on different sides of one intersection. So I’ve basically got to choose one bus stop, then hope that’s the first bus to arrive. It never works out that way.

Last night I chose to wait for bus A. A few seconds later, bus B drove past. I looked down the road and couldn’t see any sign of bus A, so I crossed the street to wait for bus C. Five minutes after that, bus A arrived. I probably could have made it back across the intersection to catch it, but I'd made my choice. C it would be.

Having just hit a new low of banality, why stop there? On the number 9 this morning I sat beside an elderly Asian woman, her works completely gummed up with nicotine, whose constant wheezing sounded like a cross between William S Burroughs and a didgeridoo. It was almost enough to distract me from this Bill Bryson book I just started.

I don’t know what Bryson’s deal is. I don’t know if he’s regarded as a genius, or if he shares space with Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry in the “folksy humour for nincompoops” genre. My parents like him. I've read and reread the article he did on Blackpool for National Geographic. He knows how to turn a phrase. He makes me laugh. A few paragraphs about in-sink garbage disposals got me going on the way up Burnaby Mountain today. All tensed up and grimacing with stifled laughs, I’m probably as tempting a travel companion as a rheumy old woman dying for a fag on the number 9.

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