No cream cheese left behind

The bus pulled over, and a passenger got aboard. She was, I'm guessing, half-Hmong and half-black, maybe 30 years old. Her hair was dyed Marilyn-blonde and ironed flat to her shoulders, under a yellow sequined and sparkly baseball cap. With that bright reflective cap, a neon turquoise blouse, mustard-yellow pants, and shoes sequined and sparkly to match the cap, not noticing her would've been impossible, so I noticed.

April 27, 2022

She was not particularly pretty, but also not unattractive. Same as most of us, she was just there, only she had sparkles. She stared out the window of the bus, and I noticed her reflection in the plexiglass COVID shield behind the bus driver. 

If it happened I didn't catch it, but maybe she glanced at the plexiglass and saw me watching. After a mile she stood up while the bus was rolling, walked without a word across the aisle, and took the empty seat directly in front of me.

There were only a few people on the bus, and she could've switched to any of fifty empty seats. Even before the pandemic, six feet of clearance was always a good idea, so I immediately moved myself into a seat behind where I'd been, leaving two empty seats between her and me. I could've moved farther away, but I didn't want to seem rude.

After a few more blocks the lady said something, but with the roar of the bus and her heavy accent I couldn't understand it, so I shrugged and made the perplexed face. She said it again and this time I grokked enough to know, she was asking if this bus went to Southcenter.

Well, yeah, this bus goes to Southcenter. It's the #128 Southcenter bus. Says Southcenter on the marquee over the driver's face, visible to everyone outside the bus. Also says Southcenter on an electronic sign directly over my head. Maybe she doesn't read English, though — you could drown a horse in her accent. Or maybe she's dumb. Or maybe she's half-Hmong and new in America and simply doesn't know her way around. There was no knowing, so, "Yeah," I said aloud but not meanly, "it goes to Southcenter." 

"Are you going to Southcenter?" she asked. Every word was pronounced wrong, but I hate reading bad English typed phonetically so I'll just mention again, wow, she had an accent.

"No, I'm going to the Tukwila station," I said, wondering about this weird woman.

Probably she's a prostitute, I thought, but in my head, I concocted a happier backstory for her — she was new to America, enjoyed the gaudy sparkles and colors she was wearing, and she didn't understand that it made her look like a hooker.

We went a while without words, her just sitting there and me jotting details about her into my spiral notebook. Then she said, "Southcenter?" and pointed at a tall concrete building that loomed over the bus.

"No," I said, "that's the Tukwila light rail station. That's where I'm going." I'd be transferring to a different bus, going to a different suburb many miles south, but such details would only confuse or encourage her, depending on her intent, which I still couldn't guess.

She said, "You are going Tukwila?"


She said, "Can I come with you?" 

"Uh, no. Really, no. You're going to Southcenter," I explained, "and I'm not. This bus goes to Southcenter. Stay on this bus."

Writing about it a few days later, I'm still not sure about that woman. Did she want me as a customer? Was she setting me up to be mugged? Years and years ago it might have been possible she thought I was cute, but that era has passed with the Paleolithic.

It's conceivable, though, that she was simply lost in America like the rest of us, plus an accent and a sparkly cap, riding an unknown bus in a foreign city, hoping the big white American man would help her get to Southcenter safely. Hope I did.

When it's possible, assume the best of people, but always keep your distance and play it safe. That's my advice for me, for her, for anyone in the Big City. So I stepped off the bus, glad that she stayed on. She waved her fingers at me through the glass, and I smiled and waved back, and walked to my next bus.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

For renewing my subscription, Smithsonian said thanks by sending this cheap, ugly tote-bag I hadn't asked for.

I have enough tote-bags already, and they're all better than this garish green crinkly one, so I'll never use it. Plus I have the plastic envelope it came in, which is non-recyclable. The tote-bag isn't even Goodwillable, so it'll probably end up in a landfill. 

Smithsonian is a museum and a magazine about science. They ought to know better. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

I picked an obituary at random for Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), linked below under "The End," but didn't bother reading it. He wasn't the worst Republican, and that's about the best I can say about him. He was scum, certainly, and your life and mine and millions are worse because he existed.

Just skimming the headlines, every mainstream outlet seems fascinated that he was a "long-serving" member of the US Senate. "Serving" is a bullshit word, of course, if you're not telling us who Orrin Hatch served.

He never "served" me or you or the American people or the people of Utah. He never served at all, not the way people "serve" in the Army or at a restaurant. He never served anyone who wasn't rich, white, and paying Orrin Hatch extravagantly for every service rendered.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Me and Dean and my other flatmate Robert were all prepping our respective breakfasts in the kitchen, so Dean was talking, of course. Dean talks, any time there's anyone to listen.

I dropped four slices of bread in the toaster, to be browned and then topped with herb & onion-laced cream cheese. I'd opened a new container of cream cheese, and under the lid was a thin film of protective plastic, with some of the cream cheese of course stuck to it.

As Dean droned on, I absent-mindedly started tonguing and then toothing the plastic, to get every atom of cream cheese. No cream cheese left behind.

We were in the middle of a pointless story about some manager at the Hyatt who hadn't fully appreciated Dean's culinary brilliance, and as Dean watched me licking the plastic he made an odd face. "It's a long story," he said. "I'll tell ya some other time. See ya later," and with that he stepped into his room, and closed the door.

Robert and I exchanged a look, but I don't know Robert well enough to translate. My look was amazement, though. Apparently, there is a way to stop Dean's storytelling — he has a low threshold for 'gross'. My plan, then, next time he's too talky, is to scratch my armpit and sniff it, or maybe pick at my ass. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

I was riding the C bus across West Seattle, when a pretty white girl stepped up and aboard. She was a brunette, but half her hair was dyed a light shade of pink.

What caught my eye was hers. Not the color, not the makeup — such stuff barely registers with me — but something about her eyes seemed kind. I can't explain it and it doesn't make sense, but even as she looked around the bus for a seat, her eyes seemed warm and sympathetic, maybe like the eyes of someone petting a puppy.

Is kindness visible in the human eyeball? Can you actually see any emotion, or is that a myth? Doubtful. More likely she reminded me of someone who'd been kind, which must've been a long while ago.

She wasn't masked, which is legal now, because last week one of Trump's many wingnut judges said so. This allowed me to see the girl's face, and her triple-pierced nose. In my day noses were for breathing or picking, not for artistic statements, but she had a diamond or zirconia on the right side, and two metallic bull horns underneath, one dangling from each nostril. I wondered if it rusts when she has a runny nose, but no, I didn't ask.

Then I noticed the rest of her. She was dressed casually, with polka-dotted sweatpants and a button-up shirt that wasn't quite buttoned up, leaving the implication and ever-so-slight sight of cleavage.

And lastly I noticed, damn it, she was young. Too young for a pierced nose, and too young for an old, old man like me. Also too young for a much younger man.

No wonder I'd seen kindness; she hadn't been around long enough to grow callous and cruel. This was a high school kid, maybe younger, and it's disgusting to see someone her age and think of anything but her proper education, good posture, and prospects for getting into a quality college.

As those were not what I'd been thinking of, I immediately looked out the bus's window at some whiskey-swigging bums, old people walking past and ignoring the bums, and a flashing red light that wanted to say, "Don't walk," but the lower bulbs were burned out so it only flashed, "Don't, Don't, Don't."

But I did. I snuck another peek at that girl. Ah, if only I was about 1/4 as old as the dirty old man I am.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Readers with an eye for detail might notice that I notice women on the bus, and in the world, more than men. Yup. Most men are tedious and uninteresting, like me. Generally, I'm more interested in women.

♦ ♦ ♦

And now, my internet history from yesterday…  

♦ ♦ ♦

Elon Musk has always been an obnoxious twit. Now he's the obnoxious twit who's about to own Twitter. 

If what he's said can be believed — a big 'if' for Musk — he'll lighten Twitter's already lax moderation, and probably invite Donald Trump back to the platform, so all of corporate media can again dish daily reports on the Orange Mayhem's lies and stupidity.

In my perfect utopia, there'd be a Supreme Court of Common Sense, to veto ridiculous realities like this.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Florida man asks schools to ban Bible following the state's efforts to remove books 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

One-word newscast, because it's the same news every time...

♦ ♦ ♦

The End
ɥɔʇɐH uᴉɹɹO
Harriet Bullitt (if we must have billionaires, give us more like her)

Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to All Hat No Cattle, Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S., and always Stephanie...


  1. >you could drown a horse in her accent.

    This sounds like some of the stuff I hear in my 1940s-50s radio detective shows.

    From “Pat Novak For Hire” :

    “She sauntered in, moving side to side like 118 pounds of warm smoke. Her voice was alright too. Reminded me of a furnace full of warm marshmallows.”

    Soon after : “She walked with the swing of a satisfied leopard, and for a small leopard, she had pretty good spots too.”

    That’s a very young Jack Webb saying that, circa 1946.


    Reminded of this by your cat picture:


  2. I suggest you sing along, Strawbs fan or not, but of course it's up to you. I taught this song to a picket line full of grocery workers outside an Albertson's store in Tacoma, WA. Of course they thought I was daft. Who the hell would sing a union song?


    Now I'm a union man
    Amazed at what I am
    I say what I think, that the company stinks
    Yes I'm a union man

    When we meet in the local hall
    I'll be voting with them all
    With a hell of a shout, it's "Out brothers, out!"
    And the rise of the factory's fall

    Oh, you don't get me, I'm part of the union
    You don't get me, I'm part of the union
    You don't get me, I'm part of the union
    Til the day I die
    Til the day I die

    Us union men are wise
    To the lies of the company spies
    And I don't get fooled by the factory rules
    'Cause I always read between the lines
    And I always get my way
    If I strike for higher pay
    When I show my card to the Scotland Yard
    And this is what I say

    Oh, oh, you don't get me, I'm part of the union
    You don't get me, I'm part of the union
    You don't get me, I'm part of the union
    Til the day I die
    Til the day I die

    Before the union did appear
    My life was half as clear
    Now I've got the power to the working hour
    And every other day of the year
    So though I'm a working man
    I can ruin the government's plan
    And though I'm not hard, the sight of my card
    Makes me some kind of superman

    Oh, oh, oh, you don't get me, I'm part of the union
    You don't get me, I'm part of the union
    You don't get me, I'm part of the union
    Til the day I die
    Til the day I die

    You don't get me, I'm part of the union
    You don't get me, I'm part of the union
    You don't get me, I'm part of the union
    Til the day I die
    Til the day I die

    1. And here are the Strawbs, thirty years later and still union men. . .



    2. Not sure I've ever heard of the Strawbs, or heard them. Still no internet, but I've downloaded the video and will give it a listen when I'm at home.

    3. Between the sunglasses and the big hair, I thought this was a gag until the gent started singing. Terrific sound, terrific feel, and I wish I could be part of the union till the day I die.

      Once and only once, I had a union job, 40 years ago, when I was too young to understand or appreciate the union. Damned fool kid, I was.


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