On the bus home, I made some notes to plan this post, and this is what they looked like:
Bette Midler adopted highway
“luggage cart and a human hair wig”
duck corkscrew penis
pee on the bus
penguins will shit in your hand
If we hadn’t just had a contest, I’d hold one to see who could make the best post out of this list, but as it is you’ll have to settle for the actual story. I went to Boston for a long weekend because my father was going to a conference, and I was going to come hang out in the hotel room and look at Boston. The bus ride up was uneventful except for two wonderful things I saw out the window: Bette Midler’s adopt-a-highway mile in the Bronx, and a homeless woman with a sign that said “Need money for food, a new luggage cart, and a dark brown human hair wig.” God, I love her attitude. She may be destitute, but she still shouldn’t have to put up with crappy wigs or misaligned wheels. If I were a little more financially secure I would have bought her the wig.
We did a lot of generic fun father-son things, like go to the baseball game and drink beer. Of course, I got moderately sunburned over the course of a few hours’ walk around Boston on a May morning, which supports my anti-evolution argument: it can never have been an advantage to have skin this fair. I get sunburned if someone tells me about going outside.
Penguins will shit in your hand: While Dad was conferencing, I went to the aquarium, which was moderately life-threatening. New England mothers will knock you to the ground and step on your throat to get a picture of their toddler with a jellyfish. The Boston aquarium has a big penguin habitat, and it reminded me of being in New Zealand with Dad and going penguin watching. (New Zealand is full of penguins, to the extent that they are a pest in some coastal towns. They market a product called a Peng Buster, which is basically a gigantic bug-zapper for penguins. It makes a terrible mess.) Not knowing this, we asked the people at the bed and breakfast if we’d see penguins for sure or if it was a luck thing, and they assured us that you couldn’t miss penguins if you tried. On the way to the Penguin Area, Dad said, “Isn’t that guy funny? I asked him if you got see the penguins up close and he more or less said, ‘Hell! They’ll come up and shit in your hand!’” In Dad’s world, you can’t get closer to wildlife than having it shit in your hand.
Affairs: I kept looking at all the educators at the conference to see if I could tell who was having affairs. Apparently conference affairs have gotten to be such a “thing” that the American Journal of Modern Languages published an article about how people go to the Modern Languages convention largely to have affairs. Imagine that. Twelve hundred high school and college foreign language teachers pairing off and getting sweaty all over a Red Roof Inn.
Immigrants have it rough: As in all American cities, all of the cab drivers were from abroad. Our last cab driver made a point of showing us the immigration center and the family court building, which implies a very, very sad story.
Duck corkscrew penis: We went to a taqueria on the MIT campus and went outside to eat. I fed a sparrow some tortilla, and said “Why is it cute when a sparrow begs, but not when a pigeon does?”
Dad: “That reminds me of the duck story. I’m not good at telling it.”
It soon became clear that he wasn’t going to tell the duck story, so I asked him to.
Dad: “Well, you know, duck penises are shaped like corkscrews.”
The story was about how someone he knew did research and it turns out that lady duck parts are even weirder shapes, but I was still back at “Well, you know, duck penises are shaped like corkscrews.” As though that were common knowledge and not the most sleep-depriving genital news since this little gem.
I enjoyed the bus ride up and back. I like looking at little towns out the window and choosing which ones I’d flee to if I needed to hide from the police for some reason. (It’s a hell of a lot more fun that the alphabet game.) Is anything more alarming than a bus restroom, because what if you fall in? To hell with It; the scariest thing Stephen King ever wrote was a short story about a man trapped in a port-a-potty. As the bus moves, you can hear sloshing. I also had the added thrill of the bus’s motion gradually rattling the catch on the door loose, so I had to hurry before the door flew open and I exposed myself on the Megabus.
A final question. On the bus home, the woman sitting next to me was reading Best Lesbian Erotica. Is it just me – it usually is – or is it weird to read erotica on the bus? Barreling down the Jersey Turnpike, casually letting everyone know that, oh, by the way, you’re aroused?
Also, the word erotica. It sounds like the name of a third-tier super heroine. “Oh, that’s Erotica. Her superpower is always being in a negligee when the plumbers come.”