A buscapade that continued off the bus, dinner with Hugh & Abby, and some time at Flex…

~Friday~ A cast of characters in today’s buscapade:

  1. A very attractive, very-well dressed lady sat on one of the center-facing priority seats for the elderly and disabled. She had on huge white beaded dangling earrings, a black nylon on her head covering all of her hair and pulled back tightly into a bun—wide and short like a bagel, as opposed to thinner and taller like Erykah Badu‘s. Her black, pin-striped pants were accessorized with open-toed shoes that had what looked like subdued glitter on the straps. Her black satin blouse was accessorized with a gold lamé purse. All that was interesting enough, but what was most intriguing to me was that she had so much makeup on her eyelashes that it seemed a chore to keep her eyes open. Her Bambi lashes looked so heavy.
  2. Thin, elderly Marlon was back today with his huge, black canvas bag, so I supposed he wasn’t Greyhound bound after all. Today, he set his bag in the row in front of him, and it took up the entire length of both seats. He had the same greasy hair, pulled back in the same jagged-ended nub of a ponytail. Wash, rinse, repeat.
  3. The young gentleman in the Steak ‘n [sic] Shake uniform, complete with cap, reappeared today as well, though I don’t believe I pointed him out yesterday.
  4. A young, Indian guy sat in front of me reading a book. He was also in the center-facing seats, but on my side, and I tried to see what book he was reading. Because of the way the cover of the book was bent, all I could see on the first line was, “The Ca…” But the second line told me all I needed to know, “J.D. Salin…” Another young person reading a classic.

He ended up getting off the bus at my stop, and walked just ahead of me.

“Excuse me,” I said to him, and he turned around. “I was just wondering if you’re reading that book for school or for pleasure.”

He smiled and said, “For pleasure, actually.” He was going straight and I started veering to the left, and he amended his path to walk with me, and did so all the way to my building, which was a city block away. We had interesting conversation about books and reading the entire way.

He said, “I read the book that you’re reading about two years ago,” he said.

“Anna Karenina?” I asked surprised that he had not only noticed that I was reading, but also knew what book it was.
“Yes. I liked it a lot,” he said.

And I asked, “Are you an English major?”

He told me that he was an Industrial Engineering major, but that his mother was an English major, so he read a lot growing up.

I asked him if he had read The Kite Runner, and he had, and we both thought it was such a great book. He noted that he’d also read Hosseini’s subsequent book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and although he really liked it, it was a letdown after just reading The Kite Runner.

We had both seen The Kite Runner movie, too, and both agreed that the book was better. He said, “Do you think any movie is ever better than its book?” and while I thought about it, he added, “I think The Godfather may be the only one.” I hadn’t read The Godfather, so couldn’t render an opinion on it, and no other books-turned-movies came to mind as meeting the criteria.

As we neared my building he said, “You’ve read The Catcher in the Rye, I take it?”

To which I replied, “Oh yes. Many, many, many years ago, though. Over thirty years, in fact. I remembering it being one of the first ‘dirty’ books I ever read.”

“Really?” he said. “Well maybe back in your time it was,” he said without sounding mean, and added, “but it doesn’t seem that way to me now.”

I’m pretty sure I read that book in high school, so I would have been several years younger then he is now, and a lot happens—in terms of maturity and life experience—between high school and college.

Funny now, just looking up the book in Wikipedia, its entry starts off, “The Catcher in the Rye is a 1951 novel by J. D. Salinger. Originally published for adults, the novel has become a common part of high school and college curricula throughout the English-speaking world; it has also been translated into almost all of the world’s major languages.”

We parted both indicating that we’d enjoyed the exchange, and I felt good about initiating the conversation, because although I’m an extrovert, I rarely do that sort of thing with perfect strangers.

Speaking of growing up and getting older, I sent this birthday e-card to my friend Kevin (who is also gay):

Wishing you a Happy Birthday makes me feel so gay.
I love someecards.com.

I met two Twitter friends @hughlh and @abbyladybug for drinks and dinner at The Borough at 7:30. I got there at about 7:15 and ran into Jay and Phil (the “pageant boys” in town form Charlotte for the Miss North Carolina beauty pageant), and I joined their table, as they were getting ready to leave. I figured I’d just take it over for when Hugh and Abby arrived.

All of a sudden this soft pop happened, and clouds of smoke came billowing out of the vents above the bar, and it stunk to high heavens! The first odor that came to mind was horse dung in hay. People, the staff and customers alike, at first weren’t sure what to think, as there was no sign of fire. But after a few minutes, Liz (the proprietor) ordered everyone out saying, “We’ve called the fire department to check on things, just in case.”

As always, The Borough was just teeming with gay folks, and within about five minutes, we heard no less than three firetrucks nearing the place. The reactions of the many gay men were priceless as hot fireman after hot fireman spilled out of the fire trucks, along with their hoses. As if for equal opportunity gawking, one of the “firepeople” was a woman, which made the day of the few Lesbians there as well. It was quite comical.

After finally getting back inside, Ian, from Helios, joined us for dinner, and we had some compelling conversation initiated by Ian’s question about a gentleman who often spends the night in the stairwell of his apartment building. Hugh, who works extensively with the homeless through his Love Wins Ministry gave us an impassioned explanation of the limited options available to address this situation, options highly dependent upon the goal—one being to get the gentleman out of there, the other being to help him out.

Not liking The Borough’s house bourbon (or the price of it, compared to Flex’s well drinks), I opted on beer, which I never do. They had a ($3.50-a-bottle) special on one called, New Belgium’s Skinny Dip, and it was tolerable enough to drink three bottles of it. I ordered one of their specials for dinner (grilled chicken with some crabmeat on it), and for the first time ever, I didn’t love my meal there. It wasn’t horrible, but it’s not anything I’d ever order again. I was glad of my choice of broccoli as a side, though, instead of the French fries I really wanted.

At about 10:00, Abby and I left, and she dropped me off at Flex, where I ran into Jay and Phil (the pageant boys) again, this time with Phil’s twin brother Craig (who’s also gay) in tow, as he’d arrived in Raleigh between the time I’d seen them at the Borough and then, from some work-related training he was taking in St. Louis this past week.

I also spent some time talking with Jason, David, and Brian, who introduced me to “Leah,” a big girl from Fayetteville who was there for the Goth, which really wasn’t that prevalent tonight. The big night for Goth is the first Friday of the month, so next Friday would have been better for her. Oh well. She was the wife (of two years) of a soldier stationed at Fort Bragg, but currently deployed to Afghanistan. “This is his fourth one-year tour there,” she said, which with some simple math told us that she hasn’t spent much time with him. And right or wrong, mean or catty, it occurred to more than one of us that there might be something about him she doesn’t know.

I’m not sure what time I left there, but it was some time between midnight and one, and I slipped out without saying goodbye to anyone and walked back over to The Borough as I was parked in the parking deck across the street from it.

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