Byzantine Bullshit

I slowed my pace from march to stroll about a half-block from the Washington Square train stop because the status board read Blue Line to Hillsboro 9 min.  Downshifting from stroll to meander, I began listening to the-already-waiting’s conversations.  I paused near three college-age girls.

“ fuck on Saturday and I’s like, ‘He is so fetch.  Maybe I should, you know?’ But then, I dunno.”

I meandered on when I didn’t hear the obligatory reply: ‘Gretchen stop trying to make fetch happen it's not going to happen.’  I’m not bothered by cute people's colloquial use of fuck, or even their inane overuse of like—but mishandle fetch and I decline to participate...even as a skulking eavesdropper.

“...only that’s never sufficient is it?  Always needs the next.  The brightest.  The mostest.  You’ve heard of champagne taste but beer budget?  Well, chauffeur taste and bus budget is how I...”

He could have been using the almost invisible Bluetooth, (and I’m not adverse to listening-in on one end of a wireless conversation; I sometimes get myself giggling imagining the other half) but this grimy guy didn’t have the posture or the requisite disconnect with the other members of the train stop to be loud-talking on a phone.  I think he was preaching to himself about himself.  I shuffled my feet along the sidewalk and—even though I had my sunglasses on—I became conscious of where my face was pointed and insured it remained away from him.

“...too early in the damn morning for that byzantine bullshit.”

Whoa, this could be a good one.  Two tallish scruffs of indeterminable age—taking up waaay more space than their backpacks and hats-worn-askance should be able to fill—would, normally, never catch my ear.  But byzantine bullshit?  That’s a keeper.

I climbed the steps of the westbound Max-train behind them and stood in the isle near them.

“Tell me parasites like dat qualify for your program?”

“Naw.  Dude’s a mosquito.  No sense in swatting em when you can use repellant.”

“Mosquito hover round me...try to land (snap—I hear the sharp sound of a finger-click) I mash it, even if I am wearin Deet.”

“Deet?  You wear you some Deet?”  (This was spoken through a big smile.)

“Fuckyou....whatchou wear?”  (Also, through a smile.)

“It’s an anology.”

“For reals?  Here my dumb ass was thinkin it was a metaphor all dis time.  Glad you here to set me scrait.”

Up to this point I’d thought scrait was the name of the one who used byzantine in a sentence.  We all shuffled as seats emptied.  Byzantine and Scrait ended up in a bench behind me as I took an isle seat next to a gray pantsuit with a gold duffle-purse too big for her body-frame.

“A metaphor is a type of analogy; a sub-set.” replied Byzantine.

Scrait said, “I was bein ironic....which is a type of sarcasm...a sub-set.”

The soft sound of clothing-against-clothing punctuated their snickers, and I imagined the exchange of elbow-nudges.  I had hopes of gleaning more about Byzantine’s program, which (I assumed) Scrait had brought up after Grimy-bus-budget-guy asked one or both of them for money, but their conversation had travelled too far from the Washington Park train stop and I suspected I’d never hear more.

Just before I stood for my stop, Scrait asked, “So... what kinda insect qualifies?”

After such a lengthy pause I was afraid I wouldn't hear Byzantine's answer before I got off—he said, with his face toward the window so his voice sounded much lower than it really was, “brown recluses and black widows.”

As I walked to my car, I wondered if he was still speaking metaphorically.

(...) — The Pink Panther

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