Sometimes, there will be a light breeze tickling its way through town, and my body is in such constant state of pathetic fragility that any wind at all makes riding my bike to work go from a difficult-but-stimulating challenge to a stop-motion animation of my body’s decay.
So I’ve been riding the bus again. It is almost as I remember it.
Apparently, I’ve lost some of that intimidating look I used to live by. I don’t know if it’s age that has softened me up or maybe bus ridership works kind of like the force in Star Wars and people can see I’m not that evil because I don’t have glowing yellow eyes or lightning crackling from my fingers. Either way, I don’t think I can pull off the look I used to call “domestic scary.” I can’t quite manage to look just intimidating enough that people won’t sit next to me while not being so alarming that someone will want to complain and get me thrown off. I never had to try to keep myself from being too scary, but now the possibility of being even remotely menacing has left me.
So people actually sit next to me now. I don’t like it.
A kid who looked like he was probably in his first year of high school sat two seats away from me. In bus terms, only having one buffer seat is uncomfortably close. I don’t know what I did wrong, but this kid just plopped down practically on my doorstep. I did the slight turn when people got on the bus. I squinted just a little bit to make myself look tired and unapproachable. I even took a second to remember what it felt like to be assigned math homework, and that must have left a residue of rage all over my face. The bus was mostly empty. This kid made himself right at home, close enough that if we got into a head-on collision, my body would be flung forward and his would work as an involuntary fleshy airbag that might render him completely 2 dimensional.
Where did go wrong? What changed?
Now that I think about it, I guess I’m not exactly as close to a stone sociopath as I was when I was last riding the bus every morning. I don’t quite have the exhausted heat of years burning rings around my eyes. I can’t quite manage to scowl as well as I used to. In my age, I’ve become more of a disappointed frown sort of person. Maybe it’ll work if I looked at everyone who came on the bus like they’ve just brought a half-eaten TV dinner to a potluck.
Is disappointment worse than anger? If I walk into a room, and the only other occupant is furious at me and I don’t know why, is that worse than walking into a room and being greeted by the same smile parents give their child’s macaroni art?
Yes. I will channel the cold sobriety of seeing my visage poorly rendered in rotini, and this will drive the bus people away