Old & In the Way in the Back Row of the 6-Parnassus, 15 September 2014.


Good Evening:

The 6-Parnassus has five seats in a row at the back of the bus, and when I boarded it at the Market & 5th Street intersection after another theater event this evening, only two other passengers occupied seats. Both sat up front, the back row was completely empty, so I took the right-hand window seat. Over the next few stops, more people boarded, but the back row remained mine.

Until the Market & Van Ness stop.

A very young couple, possibly college students, took the two seats on the left-hand side of the back row. She (long straight brown hair, long nose, dark brown eyes) took the window seat, while her boyfriend (short black hair, incipient beard) took the seat next to her.

I glanced at them. She had wrapped her right arm around his shoulders, laid her head upon his chest, and placed her left hand on his right thigh. But she did not look at the love of her life. Oh, no. Not at all.

She was glaring at me.

I resumed my usual bus behavior, alternating between looking about the bus to study humanity and looking out the window for potentially cool locations for future night photography projects. At the Haight & Laguna stop, I glanced at the young couple again. She still had her right arm wrapped around his shoulders, her head upon his chest, and her left hand on his right thigh.

And she glared at me. Again. Harder.

I’m a good boy, so I kept my head pointed forward. Another half-mile, and the 6-Parnassus arrived at my destination. I arose a little sooner than necessary and made my way to the back door, noticing that she still glared at me. While waiting for the bus to stop and the door to open, I used my superior peripheral vision to glance back at the young couple without turning my head to them.

Judging from her left shoulder, she had begun to move her left arm and hand in a short pumping motion.

Yes. She was doing that.

No wonder she glared at me. I had been old and in the way in the back row of the 6-Parnassus.

How inconsiderate of me.

Vonn Scott Bair


2 responses »

  1. Wow.
    She’s lucky it wasn’t me: i most likely would’ve glared back, and/or put on my best creepy old guy look.

    Hope it’s OK that i share a related story from several years back, which i will call:

    Old & In The Air

    One day a few years ago, i decided to spend the day riding the entire Los Angeles Metro rail line system: all lines, all the way to their respective termini.

    The Metro Blue Line runs from downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach, pretty much following the same right-of-way used by the Pacific Electric system a century ago. This run was the very last to be decommissioned when the P.E. system was shut down (start of the 1960s as i recall) and one of the first to be re-established in the modern era.

    I was enjoying riding in the front car in one of the seats near the front, with virtually no one else in the car (this was a weekday midday). A number of rambunctious male youth (about 6 to 8) entered the car from the one behind, livin’ large, making noise (talking loudly, mostly), and having fun yet trying to flash at least a hint of power or threat in their behavior and mannerisms.

    Sitting quietly and still enjoying the ride (they weren’t actually threatening anyone), i felt the internal pressure building up. As part of my particular flavor of Crohn’s Disease, my damaged digestive system at times produces a *lot* of gas, and often it is unpleasantly fragrant to a high degree. Silent and flavorful flatus ensued, and spread.

    For awhile, i was successfully able to retain my poker face and pretend nothing had happened. The positioning of myself and these young men made the source just slightly ambiguous. First one, then another, wrinkled their nose in a repeated sniffing motion of something unpleasant, their dismay starting to turn to horror as their sense of smell and brains processed the full power and potency of my output. They vociferously blamed one another, each of them denying the accusation. Looking around the car, they saw me, the next closest passenger. My poker face was cracking: they figured out i was the source.

    The relentless stench became overpowering as more came out of me. Their horror turned to terror as they scrambled to open the car’s windows and discovered them sealed shut—*they were stuck in Olfactory Hell until the next stop!* (or until they returned to the car behind, and to this day i still don’t know why they didn’t). Several minutes later, they poured out at the next stop (the Long Beach terminus, as i recall).

    Given that it was a terminus stop, everyone else but me exited the car, and the doors remained open for a number of minutes, allowing the car to mostly air out before new passengers arrived.

    Score one for the old guy with the broken digestive system.

    From just a few miles away from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and equipped with his own form of jet almost-propulsion,


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