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June 26, 2010

I was on the bus two days ago and inevitably some guy started talking to me. What is it with me and being talked to? I’m the scowliest person in the world and whenever I go out in public I crank up my iPod and my face is usually buried in a book and curtained by overgrown bangs, and yet people, generally men, keep wanting to say things to me. It’s inescapable. I attract public commentary to the same inexplicable extent that I attract private confession. “You’re a fast-walkin’ little girl!” an elderly man proclaimed a few weeks ago as I navigated Davie Street at the speed of light, hieing myself liquor-storeward. Most of the comments I receive from sidewalk passersby aren’t nearly that endearing…

Anyhow, I’m on the bus and this dude like seven seats away leans waaaaaaaaay over and says:

“Good book?”

He had to say it several times because the first couple were muffled by Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. (Unrelated to the main storyline: for about two decades of my life I believed that the message of “Go Your Own Way” was that expressing your individuality and taking the path that feels right to you is worth it even if it results in long-term loneliness. That song meant a lot to me. Then for some reason a year or so ago I listened to the lyrics more carefully and realized that it is, and presumably has been all along, yet another breakup song. Note to Lindsey Buckingham: some of us who go our own way have consequently never really been in a relationship and it’s thanks only to contemporary fiction and conversations with comparatively well-adjusted friends that we have even the haziest concept of what a breakup is, and people like us need songs too.)  But finally I looked up. He appeared friendly enough, as chatty bus strangers go. Way more acceptable than, e.g., the guy who sat behind me on the 74 one cloudy and hungover morning in Seattle back in infamous ’05 and whispered matter-of-factly past the seat crack into my amazed and stunned ear, ad nauseam, variations of “I’m gonna kill you, bitch.” (He totally didn’t follow through, needless to say. I sat there paralyzed with fear and curiosity for a solid 20 minutes and not once did he make any attempt to stab or cut me in the manner described in his monologue. All talk. Like most men, am I right, ladies? Heh heh heh heh.)

“It’s okay,” I said. “It’s Prism magazine.” I was in kind of a semifoul mood because I was reading the winning poetry contest entries and none of them were even remotely mine. The feeling I get is that if I want to succeed in the writing industry in this country, I better start composing more pretty descriptions of boreal forest foliage and fewer sapphic remixes of Ovid’s Amores. To say nothing of the parody gangsta throwdowns. (Can I go my own way, Lindsey?)

Prison Magazine?” the guy said, loudly enough for his words to furrow the brows of several nearby passengers.

“No…” I held it up, smirking a little, I would imagine. (God bless you, English, with your words that sound like other words. Go forth and distribute manifold puns over the broad earth, you magnificently fertile slut.)

“Oh,” he said. “I was gonna say, I didn’t know there was a Prison magazine!”

“It would be interesting,” I said.

“Yeah, I coulda used that when I was in prison!” he replied with enthusiasm.

The next stop was mine, sadly. I’ll never know how that conversation would have continued…

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