why is nobody smiling.


"why is nobody smiling?" the old man asked all of us, sitting at the back of the bus. nobody said a word. "everybody looks like a sourpuss," he said. i smiled to myself because he was a grumpy old fart and i thought he might lose it. i thought he might make a scene or do something awful if we didn't smile. nobody smiled, nobody answered. it's been quiet, real quiet on these rides. maybe it's the cold, the fog that's settled in and doesn't seem to want to leave. the only time strangers talk is when one needs directions to catch the 8.

a black girl was listening to her ipod, grooving and lip-synching to her tunes. she was eating some fries from a mcdonald's bag. "you know when the 8 comes?" she asked to no one in particular. "every half hour," this guy answered. "can i catch it down here?" "no," another man said, "you'll want to go to john and fifteenth." "alright, thanks," she said. she put her headphones back into her ears and started moving along with the music once again.

the girl next to me picked up her cell phone. "hello? i'm alright, just on the bus, on my way home. hey, so this guy, i think his name is brett, sent me a message on facebook. well, it was weird. he actually apologized for being mean to me one night at brenda's. i didn't even remember meeting a brett at brenda's! well, apparently he's friends with one of your friends, and that's how he found me. i know! it's so weird..." and then she gets up and walks away.

"did you watch the inauguration festivities last night?" "no, i didn't," i said. i feel bad, mostly because i haven't shown as much enthusiasm for the new president as much as everybody else, so i throw in: "i don't have a t.v." "but you have internet, right?" "yeah, i have internet, but i was watching something else. what was i watching?" i don't have the heart to tell her i watched half a simpsons episode because it was so bad i couldn't finish it, but still, i would rather choose to watch half a bad cartoon than constant coverage of our new president dancing at ten different balls.

i try to change the subject altogether. "cable is really expensive," i say. "i know!" "i mean, it's ridiculous. it's like sixty for basic." by now, another coworker has joined the conversation, or what's left of it. "sixty? that's unbelievable!" "yeah," i say, "my dad added on two filipino channels, and now his bill is like $84 a month." "wow!" i'm not lying to them, though i probably should have, just to practice my lying skills.

me, three weeks ago: "what are you paying for cable now?" dad: "about $84." me: "$84? are you serious?" "yeah, why?" "per month?" "uh huh." "that's ridiculous! how about you not spend that money on cable and instead help out the poor in the philippines?" "i'm gonna do that." "yeah right. you're always asking, 'why aren't the rich doing anything?'" "hey, i'm not rich." "yes, you are. compared to a lot of people, you are." "those people, they have millions of dollars. i don't have that!"

here i am not helping anyone, either. all the more reason to frown while riding the metro.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Barack Obama is America's first Filipino President