Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bum-Shanked: a Heartwarming, Chicago Lesson on Patriotism

So, I've been in Chicago less than 24 hours, and I have successfully been shanked by a bum.
It's amazing how many of my stories start out that way. I think there must be something about me that screams "I secretly light homeless people on fire while they are sleeping peacefully in doorways and therefore you must avenge your fallen comrades by shankment". Let's get this straight: Just because when a bum asks me for money and I avoid all eye contact, it is not because I think you are a subhuman who uses blind rage to assault helpless females in broad daylight. I am just a poor, priveleged college kid that a) cannot afford to buy you McDonalds every day and b) doesn't really want to talk to strangers unless forced to. Try asking people who don't have holes in their 5 month old $15 work shoes with the bottoms of their pants stapled because they were bought from Goodwill for 25 cents. Seriously, if you're going to fucking stab someone with your heroin needle, at least go for someone who looks like they've got a $20 in their wallet.
So, I'm on the El train going downtown, carefree and elated because I'm alone wandering a city I don't really know that well (masturbation material). It's a beautiful sunny afternoon, and I'm not at all worried that I am by myself on this climax of an adventure. (Cue, overly dramatic scary doom music). Who should clammor into my train car through the emergency door and sit about 5 inches from me? A crazy man that smells like the floor of the Yamhill Pub. "Hmm," I think to myself, "Isn't it about one in the afternoon? I mean, I ride the theoretical drunk train early too... but it's more of a 'happy hour' thing and I'm far to cute to look and act like a psycho... should I be worried that he's breathing on my neck with booze-breath that could melt crayons?" He mumbles something incoherent. Balls.
Mistake number one: I have far too many piercings in my face to leave the sanctity of Portland. Mistake number two: I have a biography of Che Guevara in my hands. I must have put on my "I'm a filthy communist hat" this morning without looking in the mirror before I faced the day.
"May I ask what you are reading?" I am surprised, because the way he said this made him seem like he was normal. And I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, because not only am I a chickenshit pussy with confrontation, but also I'm scared of freaks. So, I, like a fucking moron, tell him that it's about Che Guevara. "Oh, who's... what'd... what'd he do again?" Oh shit. Yet still, I am reluctant to back down and say something like, "Oh, he's an American hero who loves babies and trucks," or "Stop looking at me, you're making me dirty with your eyes." No, I somehow manage to get out, "He's an Argentinian who helped Fidel Castro overthrow the Cuban government." WHY, MAGGIE, WHY??? Why do I say things like this?
He proceeds to ask me if I thought that was a good thing. I managed to get out, "At the time..." before he starts yelling unintelligently about how I was probably going to vote for Obama (He's one of those adorable racist bums) and how I was a socialist who hated America and also the soldiers in Iraq. Oooooh my God. I politely try to ignore (my best and only strategy) the crazy man yelling nonsensical words full of spite, gin, and fury. Then he declares self-rightously, "What the hell is on your lip?" At this point people are getting ready to intervene.
That's when the scene turned hilarious. After I stammer, "A...a... a piercing?" He says, "Of what?" ... ... ... did I miss something? Is that usually the next question? I told him "I don't know" because what the hell else was I supposed to say? Of what. Next time I'll be more quick on the feet and say something like, "Oh, it's a piercing of Obama," or "It's a piercing of a dirty-cunt homeless freak that shouts booze-induced racist-wrath at a small white girl who may or may not have pissed herself the minute he sat down. Oh wait, that's you."
Then, it get's better. The minute I said, "I don't know", he goes, "I have a buddy who has a cleft pallet who is in the Navy. No. No. NOOO!!!!!!!" He screams "No" at me so loud and with these crazy fucking drunk eyes that finally a guy stood up and took a few steps in our direction. I don't know why, but at the prompting of said man he ran around the corner of a small divide and cowered in a corner like a puppy being tortured by children high on ADHD medication.
I took that as my cue to politely excuse myself from the situation. So I moved to the other side of the train car. As I tried to make it obvious that I hadn't just moved because of him, that no- I wasn't offended by his opinions or odor, I just merely needed a change of scenery, I prayed to Zeus that he would not come find me. I even looked the other way for good measure. I'm so white it hurts.
Then, from the depths of hell, I hear the passionate hostility turned loose on someone else. I would not have turned around to look at what was happening if you had told me Jesus had been resurrected and was masturbating orange soda on people in the back of the train. But, from the sounds of it, my bum was yelling at a black man. "Oh, are you sad because you are going to hell? Going to hell in a handbasket?" Ohhhh my God. As my heart started pounding, I hear him mumble in the single most evil voice I have ever heard in my life, "I'm fucking talking." That's pretty obvious crackpipe, but in all seriousness you could traumatize babies the way you're yelling. I cannot even describe to you this voice, but let it be known that it will haunt my dreams for millenia.
Like I said, it was probably my own fault for "being who I am" and "carrying commie propaganda". Whatever. I think if I had not gotten off the train at the next stop, he would have found me, ripped out my lip ring (which is in obvious defiance of nature and is clearly taunting all people with cleft-lips), and taken out his rusty defense-blade and carved small crosses all over me before shouting "McCain FOREVER" and then eerily chanting "punish, punish, punish the sinners" while disappearing forever in a cloud of smoke.
I wish I had made all of that up, but it honestly occurred less than 3 hours ago. Tomorrow, I'll make sure that I don't wear anything that says "I'm a big liberal with lots of unholy tattoos and piercings that also opposes white American patriots and also I fuck black people and burn Bibles.Viva la Revolucion!"

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