Riding the bus to work with Zelda Fitzgerald

The collector manning the turnstile on the bus tells Zelda Fitzgerald he´s out of any change to spare. All I got´s a ten, she says. He shrugs and apologizes with a condescending half-smile, then signals her to let the other passengers in: maybe they´ll provide him with the needed coins. Goddamn 30 cents. She shrugs as well, same a condescending half-smile as his, with the remarkable difference she´s got all her teeth to show and what a half-smile it is at that.

Now. That´s not really Zelda Fitzgerald, though, and mostly because Zelda Fitzgerald died in a hospital fire like eons ago. She´s an ersatz though here´s hoping to minus the booze and the mental institution. It´s the placeholder nickname I´ve given her because of her striking resemblance to the third result that Google yields when you look up Zelda Fitzgerald images: The one with short hair, in profile, though the picture doesn´t quite do the namesake justice. My Zelda has even shorter hair and looks way, way better than F. Scott´s – We´ve discussed this over croissants and orange juice one afternoon years ago: One of the most important facts of life is that The Great Gatsby is way overrated anyway.

But look. This girl is another thing entirely, really.
You know the type: The kind of girl who makes you go Please. Be. Single. every time you see her coming up the street, so damn cute, so damn classy it almost hurts.

It took me like, three months to barely start saying Hi to this girl while waiting for the bus to work. We share the same bus, the same bus stop but let´s be quite frank here and draw the line on establishing that coming on to girls on the bus stop has gotta be the dating equivalent to asking for anal intercourse during the first-date dinner: we´ve all got friends who claim the feat to themselves, but no, not us. So I don´t, and I have to count on my public transportation blessings and wait for the proverbial rainy morning with a crowded bus so as to give her the seat. Next morning and all ensuing mornings, Zelda´s got the Hi thing going already.

Thus once the collector relegates her to waiting in line for spare change, much to her chagrin, I never miss the beat and step up to pay her fare. Don´t need to, she says. Not a problem, I tell her, though once I slip my pass through the card reader at the turnstile the red light goes off and tells me I have no credit myself. I was pretty sure I had like, close to a hundred bucks worth of credit on my bus card but my last recharge must have happened a thousand years ago, even before my vacations. That´s never happened to me before, I tell her with a phony yellow smile and just the proper amount of innuendo. She gets the joke from the get-go, smiles even if just slightly, then asks the collector if he´d have the change for two passes instead. Yup, he nods. She pays up, gets her change, we pass.

Now, if one of the most important facts of life is that The Great Gatsby is overrated, another one is that we are all inevitably bound to fail in life: Any victory is an illusion and regardless of our success we´ll all reach a point in life when we get to Screw Up Big Time, and that´s pretty much why Marvel Comics ever came up with all those team-ups in which Spider-Man fights Daredevil: Every time Spider-Man (weightlifting capacity: 9 tons) punches Daredevil (not even half a ton) for the last say, forty years, Daredevil says he´s only survived the punch because he “rolled with it” just in time. Now, I have no idea what the hell does to roll with the punch mean, maybe except for the odd rock and roll chorus piece and the eventual comic book, but the outcome is pretty clear: That´s how Daredevil survives being punched in the face by Spider-Man. So you got to roll with the punches, man.

Case in point:

Do you know how much I make a year, I ask her and she frowns in disbelief. Three hundred bucks a year, that´s what I make. What, she asks, Out of that con, I mean, I say, a sucker a week or so. Oh that was nothing, she smiles, it happens, no big deal. Oh but big deal, I insist, then tell her as soon as it´s time for my lunchbreak I´m so charging my pass with like, ten grand or something. Okay, she nods, finds the only vacant seat in the bus and offers to take my backpack. Oh you wouldn´t want this filthy knapsack over your pants. Is it that dirty? Oh like you wouldn´t believe. How come, she asks. I use it when I´m out jogging and stuff. You run?, she asks, then tells me she know this guy who ran the marathon last week (which is real annoying, because like everyone knows a guy who ran the marathon last week, up to the point where any marathon that´s happened on the week before starts sounding like some goddamn mantra or something). Nahh, I don´t do marathons, I tell her. Point down to my legs: I got this thing with my knees, you know, from running. Have you ever see a doctor about it?, she asks. Yeah but he always tells me to stop running and that´s not what I want to hear. I know what you mean she says, I used to do ballet, busted my ankles once but just couldn´t stop it (on a sidenote, the real Zelda Fitzgerald was a ballet buff as well).

Then we max out on the filthy backpack as a conversational piece and the inevitable awkward silence sets in. Then I remember I´m supposed to be like, real good at Disaster Recovery, at least at the office, so I´m expected to find get Out Of Prison cards with a certain ease: First time I saw Zelda talk on her mobile, I made a bet with myself that she´s majored in psychology despite the fancy tailleur and the stern, laconic composure, or because of them: This girl is a Corporate psychologist, see, she´s just gotta be. But what else am I missing here? What´s to leverage? Oh yes: There was also this briefcase this girl was carrying one time, see, a few months back, which had the logo of one of our vendors: I tell her about that, asks if she works there because I have a friend who… No she says, they´re a vendor of ours she says. Really? I ask. One of mine too. What do you work in, she asks me. Human Resources, I tell her (oddly enough, not a total lie). Really? She asks. Me too. Oh where? She tells me of her job, I tell her of mine. I sort of boast just a tiny little bit while still making the point so as to keep on sounding like a space cadet just so as I won´t sound like pretentious or something. But that´s like, expected, right? Then a few sentences down the road she tells me she´s majored in psychology.

I get off the bus with her e-mail written down in her own handwriting on the inside cover of this HP Lovecraft book I had with me, and then I…

…then I…

…. Well I just….

Oh god.
Look at this girl. There´s no way in all of hell this girl is…
Oh god.
I´d do everything… anything… twice over. I´ll burn all my The Flash comics, then buy everything on eBay once again just to have it burned a second time. I´ll let go of cable TV and internet porn forever. I´ll trade running on the streets for religion. I´ll even stop stealing food from the people I work with. But please. Just please. Just Please. Be. Single.