You never can tell when you're going to meet an entertaining weirdo on the bus - weirdos that they are, they don't follow a pattern. Hence, the number 9 bus, going North on Ashland, is something of an oddity, in that I always seem to end up in conversations with bizarre strangers, none of whom ask me for money.
Today, I started out having a chat with a young fellow about my age in a purple shirt and a slightly inebriated older guy (in his late 50's, I'd guess) who was missing a few teeth. He asked how we were doing.
"Could be better," said the fellow about my age. We'll call him Larry. You don't meet many Larrys my age, but he had that "Hi, I'm Larry" look.
"You're above the ground!" said the old guy. "You ain't below the ground, you're a above. So what else can you ask for? Sounds like a good day to me."
"I didn't get laid, though," said Larry.
"Ah!" said the old guy. "I used to have four girlfriends at once in my younger days. I'd come home all smelling like perfume, and tell my wife I was out with the guys."
"Yeah," I said, jumping in to imitate him making excuses. "'Honest, honey, my friends wear perfume. They're very fancy. And touchy-feely, too."
We all had a good laugh, and the guy turned to me and asked if I'd ever been to a foreign country. I told him I'd been to England.
"Europe!" he said. "I've been there. Got to see Hitler's castle thing."
"The Eagle's Nest?"
"Yeah. Went to Germany and France with the Army."
"No kidding?" I said. "My grandfather did, too. He fought in the Bulge."
"I had a good time in France. Did he?"
"I doubt it, seeing as how as he got shot there."
He then got off, and it was just me and Larry. Larry made a "drinky drinky" motion, and I remarked that, hey, the old guy wasn't driving, wasn't getting violent, and didn't ask me for any money or anything, so he didn't bother me. Quite a talker, in fact.
Larry gave a bit of a snort. He then told me he'd left work at lunch that day and hadn't gone back.
"Did you quit?" I asked.
"Heck, no!" he said. "They let me do it, since I'd finished my work. I could never quit. Never."
"The job itself or the company?"
"That's a lot of company loyalty," I said. "Where do you work?"
He worked for an insurance company, and then gave a big speech about how he believed in busting your ass and getting 'er done.
I liked the older guy - even though he was a little tipsy, he was a pretty good conversationalist.
But something there is in the world that does not love a guy in a purple shirt who is fiercely loyal to an insurance company and loudly complains about not getting laid.