It's The Nineties
When you’re not eighteen.

October 14, 2010
On the 18 Express bus
Ballard, Seattle, Washington

"I’m going to get a tattoo, and a real piercing. I’m going to do everything you can’t do when you’re not 18," she said.

"I’m going to tell my dad he has a grandson."

I can’t judge a book by a face I don’t know.
Sometime in 2008
Some guy on some bus
Too many hands in the pudding…ends up ruining it.
Sometime in 2002
The cafeteria at Bellevue Community College
Bellevue, WA
Cat and dogs

November, 2007
Bus stop at 3rd & Pine
Downtown Seattle, Washington

A man approaches me: late 30s, greasy dark hair, red scabbed nose, twitchy. He holds a clipboard full of tattered papers.

"Hey, we’re just taking a survey. How many people do you live with?"
“Just me,” I answer.
He nods, still twitching, “Oh, okay, okay. Do you make at least $3000 a month?”
I chuckle. “No, I wish I did.”
He doesn’t smile. “Okay, um, do you believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman?”
“No…” Where is this going?
He nods hurriedly, “Okay, good, you’re like us.”
Not very like, I hope.
He continues, sounding nervous, “We’re trying to do some fundraising, just a nickel or dime would help if you have it.” He hands me a slip of paper with printed writing, and I read the first line: IN CHINA AND KOREA, THEY EAT DOGS AND CATS!

"What are you raising money for, exactly?"
He’s earnest as he says, “We’re trying to save dogs and cats! Because in China and Korea they eat dogs and cats, and we’re trying to stop it.”
I notice there’s a URL on the slip, and tell him I’ll check out the website.
“Okay,” he says uncertainly. “We’re just trying to save dogs and cats, y’know?”
My bus pulls up. “That’s very admirable.”
As I step onto the bus, he calls after me.

"Also we’re trying to make alcohol illegal, because it’s really bad for you."


January, 2010
Fry’s Electronics
Renton, Washington

Ryan stops to take a look at a display of 3D glasses, and a gentleman standing nearby strikes up a conversation. Texas twang, big moustache, bigger cowboy hat. He says, “I remember the first time I saw a 3D movie when I was just 11…or was I 12? It had snowed that day…no, that was a different day. I was 11.”

Forty-five minutes later, still talking, with little or no encouragement from Ryan, he’s somehow gotten on the topic of sex.
“You ever seen the Cistine Chapel? The Temptation of Adam and Eve?”
Ryan concedes that no, he has not seen it.
“Adam and Eve are there, and the serpent. Eve’s just reaching behind herself to get that forbidden fruit. Well, you take a look at that painting, and you tell me what Eve was doing before she went for the apple.”

"Whatever it was, it was kosher with God."

With this, he walks away.

Only difference is how you play it

January 21, 2010
The Newsstand at Third & Pike
Downtown Seattle, Washington

I’m hungry by the time I get downtown after my fiddle lesson, so I get off the bus at Third and Pike and visit the little newsstand on the corner. They’ve got popcorn, coffee, and pretzels now, but I only have one hand free. While he scoops up my popcorn, he asks what’s in the case.
“It’s a violin.” Some people get confused if you call it a fiddle, I’ve noticed.
“Hey, that’s cool! Have you seen that ad with the guy playing really really fast?”
We chat briefly about the difference between violins and fiddles, and how Charlie Daniels is one of the best fiddle players ever.
“Not better than Robot Devil on Futurama, though,” he says. “He’s the best fiddle player ever!”
I take the popcorn, give him my dollar, and say, “Well, there’s some say the devil’s the best fiddle player there is, but my money’s on Charlie Daniels.”

He chuckles as I walk away.

"1980s Businessman"
“He knows the secret to time travel but not to good hair”
November 18, 2008
Seattle, Washington

"1980s Businessman"
“He knows the secret to time travel but not to good hair”
November 18, 2008
Seattle, Washington

Some old lady

January 2, 2010
Ballard, Seattle, Washington

Waiting in line to buy picture frames and old LPs, chatting with Anabelle and Robbie, when a woman in the next line interrupts us.
“I just had to say that you look so cute, with your little jacket and your hat. It’s adorable,” she says. I am wearing my leather jacket and a grey cabbie hat.
“Why, thank you,” I respond.
“Now that I’m an old lady, I just tell people whatever comes to mind,” she continues. Her hair is thin and gray, piled loosely on top of her head; her glasses Coke-bottle; she wears some sort of muumuu and leans on her cart.

"I hope it doesn’t ruin your day that some old lady thinks you look cute."

I make up for it

February 17, 2007
Bus stop at 15th & Campus Parkway
University District, Seattle, Washington

Thin, scrappy-looking black man, rumpled clothes. He rants about all the things that are wrong in the world: the city, the police, the buses, the ex-wife.
“I make up for it, though…I go to the beach and watch the sun set on the ocean.”

Is it now?

December 16, 2009
15 bus to downtown
Ballard, Washington

He has two backpacks on the seat next to him, a sleepy expression, an unkempt mustache, and an honest-to-God rat tail. As I settle into my seat, he pulls a full sized bottle of some clear liquor, bare of paper bag, from inside his coat. Ducking his head slightly, he surreptitiously takes a swig.
A pasty, bulbous white man with thin gray hair and matching tuque and flannel shirt gives him a big thumbs up. Rat tail looks a bit sheepish as Pasty grins at him.

"Hey," Pasty mouths with great exaggeration, "It’s Christmas!"