But, reflected to myself, sure, in this brittle, winter weather, especially, surely I can't afford to look my best. I wear the rugged, functional, outerwear found on discount racks, imported from struggling nations; and besides, I have no intent with the kind of wages I earn to look fashionably as others do. But I couldn't help wondering to myself: sure, pretty girls may not in fact look at me, but do I really look so destitute and impoverished, and pathetic, on the street, that this gracious bus driver had to refuse my bus fare tonight? This bizarre thought made me smile brightly, warmly inside, sitting, listening to Explosions in the Sky, blaring on my headphones, wondering... looking at all the ghosts riding with me on the bus: does anyone ever feel this cool warmth, gentle burning from the inside, confounding their inner organs, ever, except me, actually?. And so I began to write this episode in my trusty Palm IIIC organizer I bought for $50 seven years ago (it was $450 when it first was released--and I've 'downgraded' from a less trusty Pocket PC a few years ago, since this Palm IIIC is the only portable computer I found I really need, and which works as it's supposed to, besides my mp3 player), immediately. Then as the bus stopped at my stop, before the bus crosses the highways just north of the city limits, I gestured to him, "Thanks again. Take care, have a good night." I remembered just then how I said "See you later" also to the hot dog vendor who just previously to the ride sold me the apple juice, the same one who always used to scorch my hot dogs, all the time in the immoderate cold, and who once tried to hand me over a burnt hot dog wiener, without a bun, on a napkin, in incomprehensible English, with sincere eyes of hospitality. I think I just looked at him with scorn, that time, and walked away furiously. But tonight, he gave me such a knowing smile, for the very first time, and seems to have learned English so much better since that other time. He would speak little pleasantries in between tasks tonight, like "yes" "sure." "no problem", "here you go" and "you're welcome", as though he'd just warmed up to this new job in a strange country, and that he actually understood every word I said. That he was actually accustomed to this work now, and that he actually incorporated it as his own already, finally, by now. Maybe like I've been getting accustomed to the follies of my recent job lately, and have been finding them laughably ridiculous, so trivial that they do not, and cannot bother me anymore.
I forgave the bus driver, walking the last steps to my door, for having pity on me tonight. Yet I found myself in thanks to him, in my innermost heart, not for having pity on me, or for saving me a bus ticket for tomorrow--which I could hardly care about--but that he'd do this for someone he thought I was, which could be anyone--who by either a curse or fate, happened to resemble me. As I thought this, a song, a joyful dirge, on electric guitars, screamed and wailed, without reserve, through my ears, and my eyes welled for a moment, coated by saline that diffracted what I thought were street lights, blinding me for a bare instant. It was the headlights of a parked car, I realized, and kept walking, with my hood on, looking like the poor man I must look like to others, which reminded me of how Clark Kent, just by putting on his ugly glasses, looks like the most pathetic creature of the world at times, and is dejected by the one he loves for it. Moments like these, I think I can actually like these ugly, scratched-up, intentionally unfashionable eyeglasses that remain still, for the time being, irreplaceably mine.