A perfect way to start the day. — The Social Experience
This morning as I approached the bus stop I saw an older gentleman waiting there, leaning heavily on his cane and wearing a summer straw hat with a leather strap, he stared longingly in the direction of the bus's oncoming route, and yet no bus was in sight. I sat down on the bench and began sipping my coffee, deciding not to take out reading material or ipod and to instead enjoy the quiet of the morning.
As soon as the old man spotted me he stood up straight and ambled over to the bus bench and sat down next to me. I'm watching this out of my peripheral vision because if living in New York taught me anything it's not to make eye contact with anyone as to avoid being directly addressed by the crazies and the chatters. So I continue to drink my coffee and stare blankly across the street. Before I could contemplate taking out my book or ipod in order to further deter conversation, he spoke to me.
The conversation that followed was so bizarre I'm going to try to recount it below.
Old man: How is your day going?
*He spoke with a heavy southern accent
Me: Oh, my day is just beginning.
OM: Well I managed to beat the ChemoQueezies, as I like to call them, so today is a good day.
Me: I would imagine.
*Pointing to my wrists
OM: I like your hummingbirds.
Me: They're barn swallows.
OM: Did you get them locally?
Me: They were done in New York City.
OM: Did you ever see Ground Zero?
OM: I wrote a book about my prior knowledge of 9/11, but I'm afraid of the CIA so I haven't published it yet.
*I nod my head. So it's going to be that kind of conversation
OM: Yup, twenty years ago the president of the United States sent me over to talk to Bin Laden and I sat down with that man and he told me all about their plan to hit the buildings with airplanes. But when I get back to the US the government tells me that it's best if we just keep it all under wraps. Like it never happened.
Me: That's quite a secret.
OM: Yes ma'am it is! It's what gave me this cancer. Being scared of secret ops all the time isn't healthy for your body.
Me: I wouldn't imagine it would be.
*Silence settled in. My blank gaze across the street rarely faltered the entire time the old man was speaking to me. I continued to drink my coffee and the old man leaned forward, resting on his cane again. The bus still had not come and so I gave myself fully to the weirdness of my company.
OM: I have to go home and get my teeth.
*I can't help but show small signs of my amusement to this new topic.
OM: Yeah, I'm hungry so I have to get home and get my teeth.
Me: They would be useful.
OM: This damn chemo made me lose all my teeth. But I don't mind much, it's helped me to not eat so much!
Me: That's an unusual diet plan.
OM: It works though! I leave my teeth at home cause otherwise when I walk past a place and I smell food, I go in and eat it! It gets to be really expensive. But this month I budgeted for biscuits and gravy over at my dad's place, so I have to get my teeth.
*His phone rings and he has a brief conversation about tomorrow's appointment.
I can't help but wonder how old his dad is.
OM: That was the lady I'm going to hire to clean my apartment. This damn chemo gave me cataracts and I can't see to clean my apartment no more.
Me: That's no good.
OM: You're damn right it's no good. Gave me diabetes too! Now I got to take insulin shots and I do hate those needles! Damn chemo. The whole thing is ridiculous. It's just poison. And I take it willingly. The whole plan is for the chemo to kill the cancer before the chemo kills you.
Me: Kill it before it kills you.... I think there's a life lesson here.
*The bus comes and I board first. Part of me wants to sit in the front, where I know the old man would sit next to me and regale me with further odd nuggets of his life. But the New Yorker in me was more powerful, and she guided me to the back of the bus so I could drink my coffee in silence, without being bothered.
It was kind of boring.