Once, I saw a drunk get on the bus. He was smiling like an idiot and walking crooked. I want you to know, before I go any further, that there’s no moral or point to this story. The bus lurched and he fell into a blue butt-shaped plastic seat next to a young girl. The young girl’s mother was standing near the back door, just across the aisle, and I don’t think she noticed when the drunk fell into the seat next to her daughter. The drunk, because he was drunk or maybe because, just judging from his gummy smile, he was a grade-A moron, thought that this little girl was actually a little boy. That doesn’t make what he did next any less foolish or unacceptable. But that’s the excuse he gave when the mother got pissed and started cursing at him and saying, What the fuck is wrong with you what are you doing putting your fucking hands on my daughter?
She was in the middle of a phone call, and I was in the back of the bus with a clear view of everything. Well, most things. Okay, maybe just this.
The drunk fell down in the seat. The girl, who to be fair, wasn’t the most girlie looking ten or nine-year-old I’ve ever seen, what with her knit cap pulled low on her brow and her dark puffy winter jacket, but still. It was a stupid excuse. Who touches a kid they don’t know, especially if you’re a grown man and a drunk and, on top of everything, an idiot with an idiot’s smile? But like I said, that’s the excuse he gave.
He was grinning inanely and nudging the girl he thought was a boy, nudging her as if to say look at this hilarious thing outside the window, little boy. Don’t you like hilarious things outside of windows, little boy? God only knows what he really saw. What do drunk idiots see during the middle of dreary winter afternoons outside of Brooklyn buses? Whatever he saw, he kept nudging the girl he thought was a boy and encouraging her to look too. Then he started poking her, or tickling her, who the fuck knows. It didn’t look right, at least not from where I was sitting with a perfect view of it all in the back of the bus.
Finally, after too many seconds had passed, the mother, who had been on her cell phone, talking in a normal cell phone talking voice, noticed that this toothless drunk was poking her daughter, and that the look on her daughter’s face said that this was not a happy thing that was going on.
Insert the phone an inch or so away from her ear. Insert a question that becomes a shout. What the fuck is wrong with you what are you doing putting your fucking hands on my daughter? Insert girl’s name here, spat in the mother’s voice. Insert the drunk idiot’s arm here slowly retracting from its place around the girl who he thought was a boy’s shoulder. Insert the girl’s mother calling her daughter to her side. Insert the daughter’s confused grimace here as she gets up and steps across the aisle. Insert myself watching all of this with a perfect view of it all going down. Insert everyone within earshot looking at him. Insert whatever the fuck he muttered and then, as the back doors of the bus opened and mother and daughter stepped off, the drunk idiot continuing to mutter to himself. I was just playing with the…little…boy…
He was frowning now. Boy. And here I was thinking his smile had to be the most pathetic thing I’d seen all day, which might sound like a moral or a point, but really it’s just a thing that happened.