The Hairy Elbow

by Rob BURKE

As an adult, riding a school bus designed for children makes me feel like a failure, as if I am bound to repeat high school forever. It is, perhaps, a less pride-robbing endeavor than being married, but unlike the abuses of a thankless bride, the bus is more deplorable in its sullen persistence. Each day my patience is tested, stretched, and ultimately mauled until I can do nothing but close my eyes and pretend I am elsewhere…very far elsewhere.

This day, a large middle-aged man, who bent as he walked to avoid hitting his head on the ceiling dropped himself into the seat in front of me like a bag of baseball bats. His white skin was mottled with freckles, leaving me to imagine that his tyrannical kids blasted him with coffee as he left for work. He pulled out a paper and raised his right arm on the back of the seat behind him, directly in front of me. The seat is the wall between us. It is a sacred barrier that, assuming we want to live in peace with our fellow bus patrons, must not be violated. He annihilated the green divide with his sloppy, pale limb.

His forearm bristled with dense, unkempt hair that spread straight past his elbow to his upper arm. His elbow had hair growing out of it. His elbow grew hair! Short, dark, repugnant hairs. I felt the need to vomit as the bus hauled its quiet load. I tried to look away but the arm was there, inches from my face, invading my personal space with audacity and sweat. In a moment of violent recourse, I straightened my bony legs, piercing with my narrow knees the seat he filled so grossly. He turned his head and quickly glanced in my direction. I looked calmly at the street below, while violating his personal space.

He left his arm on the seat until I got off the bus. Clearly, he liked the attention.

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