1. Tuesday, December 18, 2001

    i think i have a cavity 

    when you ride the red express bus down wilshire and you know you want to get on an orange regular bus at la brea, you start hoping for the screen.

    the screen is a yellow light, a slow moving car in the far-right hand lane, pedestrians crossing on the right – anything to slow the momentum of the orange bus before your red bus passes it.

    if your karma is in disarray like mine is, the red bus will stop at labrea the same time that two orange busses just pull away from the curb. but karma, just like anything, can be adjusted at any moment. this morning about 5 blocks before la brea, i spotted a slow moving orange bus a block ahead of us. by us i mean me and the passengers of the express red bus, including one tall skinny girl who’s email address i had received a mere five minutes previous. yes, The tall skinny girl.

    at highland i saw the screen, it was a passenger who had hailed the orange bus which meant it had to pull over and pick the nice lady up. our red bus sped by.

    earlier i had tapped the arm of TSG and i said, “i see you nearly every morning and i dont even know your name.”

    it’s evelyn.

    hi, my name is tony.

    the problem with screens is, sometimes you get screened, there was a UPS truck in our lane that wanted to get over. when my red express bus dropped me off at labrea the orange bus had caught up and was arriving across the street, just dying to see me make a run for it so it could take off like a hot rod. so i played it cool and walked west as though i had forfeited this morning’s challenge. the orange bus had won. congratulations, public servant.

    i did look over my shoulder to see if the bus driver had popped open a bottle of champagne, but instead i saw that it had lowered its handicap step, a man in a wheelchair wished entrance. i had two options: try to run east across the intersection once the light had changed to green, or run 3 1/12 blocks west and try to beat it to its next stop.

    i chose the latter. there was no way it could beat me three blocks.

    it was at that moment that i noticed my cavity.

    i havent had a cavity since i was in grade school. i knew the bus couldnt beat me so i walked. ahead i saw that an old man was sitting at the next busstop, a perfect screen for me and i knew that if i ran a little and walked a little i would be able to catch my little orange bus and ride the half mile like a human being.

    i heard the orange bus take off from la brea, i started running the first block and i felt good. i passed the homeless man who slept in front of the Office Depot and i didnt even notice him. i didnt notice how black he was, how big he was, how cold he must have been last night when temperatures dipped below freezing, i didnt notice the empty bottles of rubbing alcohol he had lined up neatly next to him, i didnt notice that his one thin blanket had failed to cover his callused naked left foot, i had my eye on the old man at the busstop with the cane who obviously wished to be picked up by the speeding #20 orange bus that was about to pass me, the young man running down wilshire.

    me and the bus approached the busstop at approximately the exact time and the old man just stared ahead. no signal to the driver who makes $50k, no wave of his cane, no gesture from his non-cane hand, which meant no screen. the bus accellerated and sped off.

    so i walked the remaining half mile. as i should. as i do every morning. i knew my boss would frown at me as i entered the agency a few minutes late. i knew he would assume i was continuing to be the rebellous young hotshot superstar agent, probably hungover, probably smelling of perfumes from women met at a new bar in hollywood. but what is there to do other than walk and pass another homeless man, this one lying on his back in front of a Blockbuster video store, seemingly dead from afar but obviously snoozing when you get close.

    pigeons bathed in our fountains only a block from the video store in question, and as i turned the corner i saw the lineup of well-dressed fellow tenants in our office complex. seems the building throws a nice Christmas breakfast a week before the holiday to give thanks. a four peice jazz band played a mellow version of “Jingle Bell Rock” as i slid through the metal detectors next to the doors of our anonymous luxury hollywood skyscraper.

    and i realized, yes, i really do have a cavity.

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