Saturday, November 19, 2005

Divine intervention of the lesser kind

Asking for trouble to stay up past your bedtime. Last minute trip up the road before the gas station corner store closes. Black night in my iffy neighborhood.

I’m hunched into a hooded jacket with my thrift store polar fleece vest underneath, walking fast like you do when it’s cold and dark.

“Hey, Lady.” He’s a young black kid and by the looks of him, in baggy shorts and a thin top that might have been warm enough three weeks ago, he’s possibly freezing to death. “Do you know when the bus runs?” I tell him. Likely a five, ten minute wait for the last one to come by. He looks perturbed, so I try to reassure him. “No. It’s leaving from the mall now, it’ll be here shortly, sweetie.”

Coming back, I round the corner onto my street and hear, “Lady!”
There he is, near as I can make out without my damn glasses, hopping around, trying to keep warm on the wrong side of the street, at the wrong bus stop. I come to a dead halt and squint in his direction, but he doesn’t say anything else or gesture to me. Go home. None of your business. Just go home.

It’s so damn cold. What if he can’t get home? What if he doesn’t have enough bus fare? He didn’t look a minute over 15 and he’s somebody’s kid and … I’m climbing the stairs to my apartment now. What if… Oh fuck it! I dump my wallet and quart of milk off, stick bus fare in my pocket, jam my glasses on my face and head back out.

He’s not at the stop. And then I see a silhouette, moving around right up next to the building across the road. What the hell is he doing? Dancing? He’s dancing. And then I don’t know what to do. It’s freezing and he’s trying to stay warm. He’s got his headphones on and he’s dancing where he’s probably sure he’s out of sight. And just how embarrassing would it be to know some idiot “lady” has come back out like he’s six years old, to make sure he’s alright and watched him dancing when he thought he was invisible.

And what possesses me to do these things? L. told me once after I’d written him about a lovely dog I met when I was walking, “One of these days, you keep holdin’ your hand out to stray dogs, you gone pull back a stump. And don’t come cryin’ to me when it happens.” I am prone to greeting unleashed dogs like long-lost friends and it is L’s contention that I can’t tell which ones would bite me.

More likely, the dog would be only too glad to permit a hug and I would come home with fleas. I know this from past experience.

Once, in Toronto, when I was working at a modern dance school, one of the board members gave me a lift home from a performance. Driving through Cabbage Town, I saw a man sprawled, bloodied face down, with a white cane beside him. Pedestrians hustled on about their business skirting around him. I yelled to the driver to stop and let me out. He muttered that someone else would do something and kept driving so…I opened the door of the car. While it was moving. And that persuaded him to stop.

I helped the poor man to his feet and put his cane in his hand. He was barely upright before the fumes told me he was not only blind, but blind, puking drunk. I half carried, half dragged him to the nearest bus stop and in gratitude, he kept trying to grab my ass.

It’s my belief that friendly angelic beings protect me from being bitten by stray dogs and stray people. But the little bastards aren’t above having a good chuckle at my expense every now and then. Hey everybody! She’s doing it again! Watch this!

4 comments:

Teri said...

I got such a good laugh out of this but it's sad that helping people has to be so risky! I know what you mean.

Koru's Daughter said...

A wild private dance
keeps the demon cold at bay
also warms our soul.

Mella said...

It is a sad world, when we come to fear the worst from those who may need our help - but we question their motives because there is reason to - not everyone has pure intentions. And you've been lucky to come away with only fleas (I've had lice from stray-people myself) and some grab-ass.

LJ said...

I like the Arab proverb: Trust people and tie your camel.
There's more than a little ego in the saintly "helping" thing, too, I think. I can never decide whether it's crappy to walk away. My mother was a rescuer of the first magnitude...WAIT. This is becoming an entry. Okay. Let's save it for an entry....Thanks, KD, Teri,and Mella.