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August 14, 2008

A $1.75 bus ticket gets you so much free advice

I heard her nasally, whiny voice-- a voice that sounded like she had a lot of trouble pushing it out of the diaphragm-- before I saw her. She stood outside the bus querying the driver for what seemed like forever about whether his route would take her by the hospital.

Finally she hoisted herself into the bus. She was stuffed into a black corset and skirt, and her legs were encased in black fishnet stockings. She had a stained bandage wrapped around her right leg under the fishnets. She looked around helplessly before approaching the man next to me and asking for his seat. She plopped down and muttered about being late for an appointment and then apologized to me for knocking her oversized tote bag into my lap.

Her face was vampirishly pale thanks to a heavy powder, and two thin, arched lines served as her eyebrows. Her dark red lipstick bled onto her teeth.

"Can you believe these shoes I have to wear? It's because of my leg. I was in a car accident. I should probably wear a long skirt but it's just so damn hot I was like 'Heck, no!' Where are you going? Work? School?"


"Where do you work?"

"An arts nonprofit."

"Oh! Do they take volunteers? I'm a make-up artist, you know. I did operas and theater and stuff. I could make you look like you had no eyebrows and add some prosthetic to your face and put a wig on you and no one would recognize you. You have pretty eyes. You should wear gold eyeshadow and green liner."

She whipped off her sunglasses to reveal the fuchsia eyeshadow adorning her lids.

"See like mine? I got this stuff in New York at a store for make-up artists. But yeah, gold and green for you. Just real light. Liquid liner, you know? Your cheeks are still rosy. Do you mind if I ask how old you are? 23? OK that's why. What do you wear on your lips? You should just wear beets. That's right--beets! I got this powder from Egypt that's like, ground up beets. You can do anything with it. You could add water and make it liquid liner or add KY jelly... I could paint my whole face red."

We reached my stop and I started to get up.

"Brown mascara! Not black!" she called after me.


  1. What a whack job. Maybe I should start riding the bus. Not only do you save money on gas, not only do you help out the planet, but you also get some of the world's best entertainment to boot. The cost of a bus ticket: $1.75. The sights on board: priceless.

  2. Hey! This could be an "arts" project! Max Mavens Make Mornings Marvelous: Listen and Learn from your fellow riders.

  3. Next time wear your "I am a Robot" costume and have a public transportation party on-board.

  4. I love public transportation. Where else can you watch a homeless man pee himself/touch himself in the seat next to you. True story.

  5. This almost sounds like a nightmare. I wonder if she was a witch. Was she wearing gloves and did she have purple eyes?