These are two things that happened to me this year, one around April and the other this past weekend.
Sitting on the bus reading, on Manchester riding East to Graham.
I am reading and the bus is packed, mostly with teens who are talking and talking and talking. I can’t tell what they talk about (Are they flirting?) but there is a sense that they are creeping over me, trying to catch my attention, perhaps to make fun of me. I try to keep reading.
A man points to me from across the aisle. I hadn’t noticed him.
“Look at him,” he says, as I pull an earbud out. “Look at this faggot.”
I put my earbud back in and pretend to read but mostly watch him from the side of my eye.
He taps again. I turn and he points to my book, laughing more. “What are you reading?” he asks.
I turn the book sideways to him, polite but distant: Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You. This was the wrong book to show him.
He laughs and laughs and laughs, pointing out to people that I am “in pain.”
A woman taps him on the shoulder. “Why don’t you shut up,” she says. “Leave the guy alone.”
“Why?” he asks. “Just look at him.”
“Look at you!” she snaps. “No one cares what you have to say.”
I am walking my dogs out of the way, beyond our normal route to see what a farmers market in my neighborhood looks like. I sense it will be bad but I want to see it with my eyes.
People are setting up for the event and I wrangle the dogs past them and continue walking. An adult man at the other end of the block, by an apartment complex, wrestles with a pizza box. He is on a yellow kids bike.
He kicks the box on the ground. He is very angry. He bikes on the sidewalk. He is yelling something to himself.
I move the dogs and myself to the grass. He looks up at me. He bares his teeth, moving his mouth but I can’t hear what he’s saying.
He passes me and kicks at me but misses my leg, misses my dogs. “Dumb fucking faggot,” he yells.
I look back as he bikes into the farmers market. He’s turning around. I walk over his pizza box, across the street, into my apartment complex.
The next morning, I see him from a distance, speeding toward me. I walk fast into my apartment to catch him speeding across the street in the opposite direction.