hot child in the city
California is burning, and the heat is starting to go to our heads. The temperature actually seemed to be rising as evening fell, so that when I arrived back at the apartment at 6, I was beginning to stifle. I sat on my bed slowly eating a bowl of cheerios, while Jacqueline writhed on the floor moaning something about the heat. Chloe arrived, and within minutes we were screaming at each other about how much flights to Seattle on Virgin America REALLY were. Jacqueline beat a hasty retreat to the TV room as I insisted one last time, that Chloe, “COME SEE FOR YOURSELF THEN,” and Chloe insisted one last time that I was, “JUST DOING THIS TO BE ANNOYING.” Which, of course had more than a little truth to it. I had gotten uncommonly irritated when she told me that she had found a flight to Seattle for $150.00 round-trip, and that it was “nonsensical” for me to fly into Bellingham to save money. This happened to be the third altercation I had gotten into in the last hour.
#1: Ramona vs. Homeless Man at Embarcadero Subway Stop
The platform is packed, and it’s hot, I mean really hot, hot like you’re underground and suddenly realize that the earth’s core is molten rock. I am on the outbound side waiting for my train. A man approaches, carrying what appears to be all his earthly belongings, and tells me that he is headed to UCSF and asks if he is on the right side. Since UCSF is in the same direction as where I’m headed I assure him with a flick of my hand meant to convey the direction that we would both soon be going that yes he was on the right side, and if he just sticks with Ramona he never need be lost again neither literally nor figuratively. At this point the woman in front of us turns around and says that in fact these trains are going the opposite direction than that which I indicated, but that they were still going outbound, and that yes he was on the right side. At this point the man starts berating me for giving out information when I, “Didn’t know nothin’.” And actually accuses me of trying to purposefully mislead him, as if what I have just been doing for the last eight hours is merely a hobby and my real job is purposefully misleading commuters on the Embarcadero platform.
Actually, I tell him pointedly, I was not in fact wrong since although I may have confused the direction that the train would arrive from I had been right about where he should stand, and had he taken my advice he would have happily arrived at UCSF. I think that he grudgingly accepted this hard won point. Although, as Chloe pointed out later when I relayed with story, “Yeah, but who cares?”
#2: Ramona vs. Fifteen-Year-Old Girls on the M
I finally board the train and take a seat near the door. The car is packed. At the next stop two middle school aged girls get on the train, and proceed to take an entire car full of adults hostage.
Immediately, upon boarding, one of them started yelling at a man reading a newspaper because he may or may not have touched her backpack. Her and her little friend berated the man for a few minutes, repeatedly threatening him with bodily harm. Let’s keep in mind that this man was large, and probably in his 50s, and what was his response to these attacks? Nothing. He stared down demurely at his newspaper. He was terrified. We all were. I quickly put on my ipod and opened my book since, they were standing directly in front of me, and knew that I was probably going to be their next target. I tried to cultivate an air of studied indifference to my surroundings. Soon they were singing loudly, and commenting on the heat in the car, which was considerable, with gusto. Finally, my fears were realized when I knew, without even looking up, that I had become the focus of their attention, it must have been some sort of dormant survival instinct springing to life. I, the baby antelope. They, the hyenas. I looked up bravely, hoping to make a better show of it than the man next to me had done, “What?” I said.
“I said, WHEN are you getting off?”
“At the next stop. Why?”
“Becaaauuse I want your seat,” she said, looking at me like I was a moron, which even I was beginning to believe that I was.
At this point the friend chimed in, “Oh, she’s scared. She thought you were gonna jump her.”
“No I didn’t,” I said, even though of course that is exactly what I was thinking. I got off at my stop, and the last thing I heard as the doors were closing with a woosh was, “What you looking at? You wanna get slapped?” Followed of course by the silence of a train full of people paralyzed by a couple little girls in pink t-shirts.
I tell you, this heat is making us all a little crazy.