I love the MAX

Last night, waiting for the max at skidmore fountain, after two hours at powell’s reading books on literary agents. I punch the buttons on the ticket machine but it’s broken, again. The homeless people are bedded down in the wide concrete place beneath the bridge, gathered here in the open to hide from the rain. A man in a leather jacket shakes his blanket, white and dirty, and flops down on the concrete, rolling like a burrito. Another homeless man is like an elf in his neat green sleeping bag with a tarp spread squarely underneath, stocking-capped head on a backpack pillow. Another man walks up and curls against the wall with nothing but a thin sheet of fabric, stretching it furtively over his pulled-up legs. A few pillars over another fellow sits up shaking a zippo on a rumpled nest of blankets. A person pushing a bike stops to chat, the two wave their arms about, awake. A group of people crosses the street to the max station, two cowboys and their girlfriends. The cowboys have huge black felt hats and shiny expensive boots that click on the concrete. They share a bag of donuts, feeding bites to their girlfriends, laughing. Everyone is drunk.

The max comes. I hang up my bike and sit in the rear of the car, the rowdy cowboys take up the seats across from me. Next to them a man in a black hoodie with an “Anti Racist Action” patch on his backpack is reading George Washington’s War On Native America. In front of me two black men, one in all white, one in all black, with their hair tied neatly under glittering, oversized baseball caps, sit quietly. The line between the four of us is thin, the inches of space between the seats, and everyone is leaning into the aisles, drunk. As the max crosses the steel bridge, the lights flicker.

Man, let me hit that shit, says the black man in white. The man in black passes a pint of liquor across the seat. The man in white takes a drink and says I saw these pants yesterday, man, they were PHAT. Had a band of black leather down the side, man. PHAT. Eighty dollars! You wouldn’t believe these pants. The man in black grunts, noncommittal. These pants were so phat- they didn’t have any in my size, man. They had 34, they had 38, they didn’t have no 36! They never have my size, man! They called the other stores, didn’t have my size there either! Not even in Vancouver! They said they had em in Tacoma. I said, I don’t even know where that is! Where’s Tacoma, I said. The man in Black nods slightly, his face hidden under the brim of his hat. The man in white pauses to take another drink, goes on. I saw Charlie yesterday. He was all, HEYYYYY, and I was thinking, I mean, how does that even COME ABOUT? How do you not love the sweet smell and soft skin of a lady? I mean, how does that even come about? The man in white shakes his head, bewildered at his own happy drunk talk. The man in black makes a small sound, focuses his eyes back on his sneakers.

A stop later the cowboys get off, and the man in the hoodie. Another stop and the black men get off, no-one is going as far as I am. I think about the drunk people and their careless talking, the train, no space so everyone just throws it out there like a book to read. Who needs hitch-hiking, when you can just ride the MAX? And I think, too, about this article, which I read after Clara mentioned it in soupbones, and what it declares- straight men are straight, gay men are gay, but women- women are everything.

3 thoughts on “I love the MAX

  1. I looooooove that last line of yours from ‘soupbones”. I also love the dialog between the two black men, The way you subtly showed that Charlie is most likely gay was brilliant, and I am completely envious! How do you do that?

    I used to sit at skidmore fountain, under the bridge, sidestreet reny would busk there and I’d chill with them all summer day watching my kid run back and forth and all the people getting on and off the MAX. I remember one place at the Saturday market served avocado milk shakes. They were so good.

    Oh nostalgia.

  2. Oh man I’ve come to a blog witten by someone who can really write! 😀

    I was just thinking about those damn Phat jeans! Now does that make me a gay man? 😉

    Oh and what brand were his sneakers? 😀

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