I had such a nice
time taking digital pictures of my teeth that I took a bunch more. I really
like the way that the camera catches the wet slickness of the teeth and
gums. It was really fun except for having to stop and wipe spit off the
Susan looked at
some of my images on the computer. "Did you lick your teeth to make
them so moist?" she asked. Nope, they're just naturally well-lubricated,
I guess. I took one of the most promising pictures and used it as the
front page of a faux-goth webpage I'm designing. At one point I tried
airbrushing out my fillings. It was like when you do your senior picture
in high school and they airbrush out the bigass pimple on your chin so
you won't be humiliated for all time by an unsightly blemish in your senior
portrait. Within a few years, when the memories start to fade and your
forget just how much high school sucked, you'll need a nice senior picture
to look at as you construct an artificial memory of those halcyon days
of your fictitious youth.
I never had
a senior picture taken. By mid-senior year, I'd managed to withdraw
from all but the most mandatory elements of high school life. My abandonment
of friends and haunts was so complete that my former pals probably thought
I suffered from a mental illness. Another reason is that I was violently
ugly in high school, and instinctively sensed that holding tangible
evidence of it in my hands in the future would cause only more pain.
To back this up, I submit that Susan once saw a yearbook picture of
me and laughed before she knew it was me. She was getting all
warmed up to geekmock when she realized that the loser was her current
boyfriend. She still wonders when she's going to live that moment down.
Fortunately, I turned out to
be what is known as a "late bloomer" -- meaning that I feel
affectionately sorry for the me-that-was but have no desire to return
to his life or body. The fact that my full-color self does not
appear in his yearbook, uncomfortably braced against a photogenic tree
out behind the high school, grinning grittily at the moronic jokes of
the photographer, is quite appropriate. I didn't want to be there while
I was there -- why should I force my remembered self to be anything different?
Poor me-that-was. He can't
really be happy with the reality of his history, and I won't let him wander
far into a more happy fiction of misrememberance.
Usually I walk over to Union
Station on lunch break from my EMT class, but today it seemed too far
away. It takes me about fifteen minutes to get there, and fifteen to get
back, leaving me with exactly zero minutes in which to buy food. So usually
I have to distort time in order to avoid returning to class late, which
leaves me drained and lethargic for the remainder of the session.
So today I strolled through
the grubby K Street tunnel under the railroad tracks and went to the bus
station instead. I immediately felt pleased with this change of venue.
Union Station is dominated by an enormous upscale shopping mall, which
tends to dilute the sense of rush and transition of a real train station.
The large food court downstairs features zillions of menus and gigazillions
of local high school folk on lunch break. In contrast, the Greyhound station
is all about people on the go. No eclectic culinary options -- it's either
Hardees or the vending machines.
I sat down at a plastic table
with some french fries and plugged in some music to watch the people flow.
Every now and then, a muffled intercom voice roared in over the din of
my headphones, announcing an imminent departure. The great thing about
the bus station is that you can sit in there and easily imagine walking
over to the ticket desk, putting a reasonable amount of money down on
the scarred counter, and be on a bus for parts unknown within the hour.
It's reassuring in that way.
After a while, the voice of
the man at the plastic table next to me began to filter through my headphones.
He was an African-American fellow in his fifties, wearing a flowing tunic,
army pants, and combat boots, with white athletic socks pulled up over
the pants cuffs. Something about the randomness of his attire seemed to
correlate with homelessness, as did carrying on a conversation with no
one in a bus station.
My headphones shielded me from
the specifics of his monologue. Eventually I peered over at him to gauge
the extent of his mania. He was speaking slowly and carefully... into
a cell phone. I felt completely pleased with the strangeties of social
strata in Washington at that moment.