Thursday, March 10, 2011


Yesterday I was headed for the bus stop. I was coming from a friend's house, from whence I'd picked up all my dirty rugby stuff I'd accidentally left behind. Over the weekend we played a very, very muddy game of rugby against Western Oregon University. I had to retrieve the stuff I'd left with the friend, because it was damp, and probably was not exactly filling her house with pleasant aromas.

muddy indeed.
So anyway, there I was, trudging along and minding my own business, with a large smelly backpack on my back, and this guy saunters up next to me and says "Hey." To which I respond "Hey." He was a breed of human not unknown to Bellingham. Dreadlocked, stripey wool sweatered, Carharted, and Birkenstocked, he introduced himself to me as Lance.

Despite his rather surprising appearance, and his subsequent apparent intention to walk with me as far as our paths continued to coincide, he was a very friendly guy. He asked me if I smoke, and before I could reply, he clarified "Cigarettes. Do you smoke cigarettes?" which made me chortle. It can be a bit of an open-ended question here in the heart of liberal hippie-dom. I informed him I did not, and he asked if I minded if he lit one. I didn't, so he did. (American Spirits, of course)

the chosen cancer-stick of hippies and hipsters alike.
We walked on, and he asked me if I was a Western student.
"I am. Are you?"
"Oh, no, I just moved here from Oregon. I just came from campus though. I like to hang out there and play pool."
"...Ah. I see. Are you good at it then?"
"Good at what?"
"Hah. Not really."
"I... I see."

Not really much I could say to that, I suppose. He then volunteered the information that he was headed to the Royal, a bar downtown. To play more pool. I really had nothing more to say on the topic of pool, so I nodded and offered up this gem: "I've never been in there."

here it is, complete with a douchbag!
He dragged on his American Spirit, and then said with a grand, smoke-trailing gesture "So where are you headed?" His sweeping hand gesture took in the downhill slope of the city of Bellingham, and the rain dampened street in front of us.

much like this one.
 I explained that I was headed to the bus stop, and then back home, where I intended to do laundry. I almost instantly regretted the mention of laundry, becuase I didn't want him to think I was mocking him with my clear and easy access to such a luxury. Clearly, his was more limited.

I should have used the less commonly known "Прачечная" to describe it. 
Lance didn't seem to mind, instead bobbing his dreadlocked head amicably. He then inquired as to where I was from. Eager to distract him from his own laundry-deficit, I told him I was from Wyoming. This elicited the usual suprised face, but then he said something I have never heard asked about my own fair home state. "Oh, the unknown state! So what's its ah... its nomer?"

Interestingly enough, I knew exactly what he meant.
"It's called the Equality State, actually."
I refrained from going into why that in and of itself is a rather embarrassing misnomer, at least in some respects, and left it at that.

yes. among... among other things.
My walking companion gave me a suprised glance, and then went "Huh. Well that's pretty cool. Have you ever been to the Alternative Library?"

Though it was a wild swing in topic, I once again knew what he was talking about. The Alternative Library is a regular person-run library here in Bham, and is reportedly stocked with all the kinds of books you can't usually find in regular libraries. Also they had a nudist party there a couple weekends ago, complete with body-painting.

I google image-searched "body painting" and immediately regretted it, so instead here is a picture of some spring crocuses that I took.
 Truth be told, it sounds like a fascinating place, and I've actually been meaning to go, though I think I'll make sure to go on a day when people will be fully clothed. I told Lance this (minus the nudie part, we didn't know each other, and I really didn't want to know if he was also a nudist) and he nodded, and then gave me some very vague directions to the place. If I ever do end up going, I now know to "look for a place with a swing-thing on State Street."

"Excuse me, but I see you have a swing? Might you also sometimes have nudist body-painting parties? No? My mistake. Carry on. Next house!"
Then, at the crossing of North Garden and Chestnut, we parted ways. I headed up the hill to the bus stop, and Lance headed down the hill in pursuit of more pool.

Once I was on the bus, I was greeted by a larger man in a grey hat and headphones, complete with a cassette player. "Hi! How are you?"

His name is Dan. He rides the bus back and forth, around and around Bellingham. He works at IHOP, he'll tell you so right away, and he always inquires what you think about the weather. He'll tell you he rides the bus becuase he doesn't want to get bored when he's not working. He'll also tell you about how he often rides the train down to Seattle to visit his brother, and how he's got another brother in Portland. His favorite color is blue. He was born on a Thursday, and after he asked me what day and year I was born, he was quick to inform me I was born on a Sunday. (which happens to be true) We'd met before, Dan and I. Several times, actually, on several different buses. He never remembers me or my name, but he can always tell me when I was born, and he can also predict the weather with frightening accuracy.
"... and then on the 12th of May, which will be a Thursday, it will rain for 32 minutes."
So that's what happened to me yesterday. Sometimes I forget how interesting people can be. I'm glad that yesterday was around to remind me of how fascinating we human beans can be.


  1. heh. you always have the best bus stories. i enjoy it.

  2. I'm giddy at the prospect of playing pool in the nude during my next visit to Bellingham. Already working on the dreadlocks...