Endearing Talkative Man and What "Straight" Women Can Do In Lieu of Tea Rooms.
On the bus home a big guy offered to help me with my bike box then proceeded to chat with me the full 14 blocks. He had a lot to say and didn't really take cues and never really stopped; occasionally hes said "i like you' you're pretty and smart", but would drop it when i ignored that part, or say "sorry, i don't mean anything by that". I felt pulled into the blank ignoring of the rest of the bus passengers, but then this guy would say something i felt compelled to respond to. He knew about these crazy carbon and epoxy contraptions but liked a good steel or maybe an aluminum frame and really enjoyed describing all the ways you could weld a joint. He liked to weld and felt like there were shops in chicago that made some of the best welded items, bikes and otherwise, in history. "Chicago Has a Lot of Hidden Gems". How could i not want to know this guys hidden gems, especially when the root beer factory on 31st street and one of the polish places down Archer that i've never been to were the first two things on his list? He was going to the VA, pain in the ass, those doctors at the VA. How could i not commiserate? So i did, i talked to the very talkative guy because even though he had weird social skills, i liked him. I just finished re-reading the second essay in Times Square Red Times Square Blue (delany) and it really edged on me all that stuff about how i am constantly pressured to be scared of strangers. And i wasn't scared of him, wasn't even scared of being held captive to his constant talking. I was only a little scared that the other bus passengers would judge me for egging this guy on. But why would i give a shit about the other bus riders? they never said anything about how they could weld a cart or how i should fix a telescoping wheel on the back of my big back pack to save my back from injury. (can you see me, walking around with a little tripod attached to a wheel trailing behind me? That image alone is worth 20 minutes of listening to the rambling of a stranger. please).
Hours later i stopped at the Cermak produce. My hand held basket was about full by the time i topped it off with a half gallon of milk. The fifty something woman nearby looked in my cart then up at me, "you shoulda got a cart," she asserted. I said, "Yeah, but i'm on my bike so i can't load up too much stuff". She paused, "You ride in this snow?" "I know," I said, "i'm crazy, so you can say it if you want", but she didn't go there. she took an angle i had not expected, "but you look good, you could easily have a man with a car who could drive you around grocery shopping, don't you?" "Naw," I said, "Afraid not". She seemed genuinely surprised, or at least as though she was putting it on pretty seamlessly. "Well, you really could". I smiled and looked at her, "you think i should work it more, huh?" She nodded affirmatively and looked me up and down, with a little crane of her neck like she was trying to get a gander of my backside, "You got a nice face, you got a nice ass, I'm sure you got brains", now she really smiled, and we both laughed and squeezed one anothers' arms affectionately. I have to say, i felt really good after we parted. The whole "you could have a man" thing felt so obviously contrived, some sort of code for approaching sideways flirtation. Contact (here's me thinking about Delany). Maybe she was straight, but is it sort of like straight men who accept blow jobs in gas station bathrooms? You can get your same sex desires out by being really saucy to the younger woman in the grocery store, but it's all coded as inquiries about her eligibility with the men. In retrospect i'm curious if i could have pushed it further; but not in a regretful way, because i left this woman feeling completely perfect. I feel like the solstice afternoon chose to hand me a little secret, some information about sideways flirtation among women who don't code as queer, and may very well not identify that way. It was truly the perfect gift to give me faith in the coming warmth on a rather cloudy and dark winter solstice day.