Friday, July 13, 2012

On the Buses

For many years now, I have been commuting daily from Ballymun to UCD and back, which usually involves four bus rides a day. I don't mind so much. Bus journeys are a good chance to read, and when your reading material is not entertaining, your fellow passengers often are.

This evening I found myself remembering the time that my bus passed a video shop and a man and a woman, sitting together, had the following conversation:

Her (looking at a poster in the video shop window): " 'Adopted to Die'? What would that be about?"
Him (knowingly): "It sounds like it's about a kid who's adopted by a family just so that they can murder him."
Her (fervently): "I couldn't watch that! No way. It would make me sick."
Him: "Wait, it's not called 'Adopted to Die'. It's 'Addicted to Love' ".

They'd cooked up a completely imaginary film between them in a moment, supplying it with a plot and an audience reaction. I love that kind of unconscious creativity.

I also treasure this festive exchange between two girls:

A: It just doesn't feel like Christmas this year.
B: You say that every year, though.

The more I think about it, the more profound that exchange seems.

Another time I was reading the Bible on the upper deck of a bus into the city centre. I was a bit shy about doing something so potentially Pharasaical, but I'd decided my Scripture knowledge was so lamentable I had to take drastic measures. And 21st century Dublin isn't first century Jerusalem, is it? Reading the Bible in public, in today's context, seems more defiant than credit-seeking.

A man and a woman sat across the aisle from me. I saw right away that they were the kind of nightmare couple that embarrasses everybody around them, the kind that have no hesitation about shouting and arguing in public-- indeed, the kind of couple that seems engaged in a constant, twenty-four-hour public argument.

After the first few furious exchanges, I decided that I wasn't going to risk being drawn into the combat. I got up and went downstairs.

As I descended, I heard one of the antagonists (I forget which one) shrieking: "You see what you did? That man was reading THE BIBLE!!"