…what seemed like fourteen kids board the bus, howling. People in the front seats scatter like there’s been a cockroach infestation. Kids take the seats, surround an older woman who scolds them. Their mother, pushing a stroller — a two seater — boards the bus behind them.
– Just sit down. I don’t want you to speak. Just sit down.
One of the younger of the fourteen hides under the seat, thrashing in the dried vomit and antiseptic and who knows what else, but little children like to hide beneath things.
– Sit down, the mother keeps saying. I don’t want you to talk. Could you please just stop talking.
She looks like she’s speaking to the old woman, but she’s not. She’s pleading with the eldest of the fourteen kids. It seems like they’ve been through this before, because when the mother of fourteen begins to weep, the eldest daughter, probably about twelve years old, bows her head.
At the next stop, the mother drags the stroller off the bus. She exits without saying a word, as if she hopes the bus will take two or three of her children away. Around me, people are snickering: the two Philippinas who gave up their seats for the little ones, a gay couple sitting on a side row of seats. Actually, the Philipinas chuckled first, ridiculed the weeping and overworked mother in Tagalog. Then the gay couple fortified the derision by grinning condescendingly.
I say: Actually, it isn’t really funny. That woman was weeping.
They say: —
I think: Good. You should shut the –
I want to say: And you know what’s funny, gay couple? You walking your shitzu, talking to it like it’s a real person. scooping up its shit with your hand covered with a plastic bag, feeling every molecule of your dog’s runny fecal matter. The shitzu’s done, so while you’re checking the seeds in his shit to make sure his rigorous diet is all according to plan, it’s kicking up grass in your face during its post-shitting ritual.
See, that’s smirkable.