Thursday, June 16, 2005

Burlingame safari

His jackets must all have been made when he was larger, younger. He's shrunk inside them, the shoulders standing a half inch, more, past where his shoulders stop. Ears and nose never stop growing, his ears are heroic scale, sprouting rich tufts of pure white hair, long enough to dance lightly in the wind. Close-trimmed white beard, missed stubble trailing down his neck. I couldn't possibly mistake him.

I'm BARTing to a meeting in Burlingame, and an old guy from my neighborhood is sitting across the aisle, with a round-faced old woman. I whisper to MB, sitting beside me, that I swear I know him, I see him everywhere.

"Maybe he's a hallucination," reasons MB.

"Do you see him?" I ask.


A shared hallucination, then. It seems fitting, today is one of those bright, windy days that fuzzes the edges of things, the weather strange and sharp, like a dream.

"I've never seen the woman before," I say.

"Maybe they're having an affair," says MB. The train pulls into the station, and the round-faced woman moves to another seat, a few rows on and facing the man. She puts her little hands on the seat in front of her and smiles at him, her eyes big and cartoony. "They meet on the BART to Burlingame every Sunday," MB continues, "where they share a table at the Elephant Walk and moon at each other."

It seems more than plausible. She's glowing at him across the train.

We get off the train, wind thrashing at us. Our meeting is at a Mexican place, where they make guacamole right at the table. We crowd the table with papers and talk. A party is being set up in the room. Not just a party - a wedding party. The place is filling up. We're moved, with all our papers (the guacamole left behind) to another part of the restaurant. Crying babies, bickering siblings, polyester waitresses pushing past.

A table fills with squeaky clean youth wearing name tags. I edge closer to read the slogan, "Godly obedience."

The meeting over, we stumble out into the bright noise of the wind. A Godly obedience girl's skirt is whipped up around her thighs.

On the train back, a spoiled four-year-old with his father makes enough noise - random, chaotic noise - to fill the train and scatter conversation. They get off at an underground stop.

"Oh. My. God," says MB.

I look out the window to see the kid standing proudly on a bench, little god of the BART station, his pants down, pissing a graceful arc onto the tracks. A sunbeam filters down from the upper level, the droplets shining, the kid's father holding his shoulders, and the train pulls slowly away from the station.


monkey #5 said...

Ahh, public transportation, the carnage, the mirages, the humanity (occasionally). This is why I own a car.

Daniel Heath said...

"Godly Obedience" indeed.

don't be a lightweight, monkey 5. look how much more fun they had that day...