One Saturday in July, we took a hibachi on the bus
then we had to transfer twice
just to get to Seton Park
where all the lovely rich people had their wedding photos taken
and the unlovely poor folk watched them having their wedding photos taken
We dropped our fare in the coin slot and boarded the bus
We sat near the back on a bench seat facing the aisle and the back door
He tapped his fingers on the box containing our new hibachi
he was full of anticipation to use it
I could tell by the look in his eyes when the photo gray faded from his glasses
I could also tell he was still feeling doubtful about being seen in public with it
We’d just bought it the day before, when we heard there was a heat wave coming
I was hungry
He was hungry
It was hot
I shuffled my feet, feeling the loose rubber knot in my right flip flop
I played with it a while before getting bored
He shook his legs and he never got bored, he just kept shaking his legs
The bus kept swallowing up more and more people as we moved along
In fact, it got pretty crowded
Old people, young people, babies, kids, you name it, they were on our bus
He got sweaty and a bit nervous, squirming and shifting
“Val, do you think we look crazy carrying this Hibatchi on the bus and is anyone staring at us?”
I said (totally lying)
“Hell no, no one is looking at us and it isn’t crazy to carry a hibachi on public transit anymore than it is to carry a baby stroller or a skate board.”
This seemed to satisfy him for the twelve seconds it took him to notice a guy standing in the aisle peering at our hibachi. He leans over to me, all covert and seriously skeptical of my ability to determine the weirdness of hibachi carrying and he is a bit miffed.
“That asshole is staring at us.”
“No he’s not, you’re just sensitive because you’ve got it into your head that it’s crazy to have one. This is Toronto, no one cares anyway, everyone is crazy here.”
He stared straight ahead and I could tell he didn’t believe me. The guy leaned down a bit to get a good sidelong glance at the box on his lap. He gave the guy one of his penetrating fuck off stares and the guy turned his attention to a woman’s ass in front of him.
“That fucking guy is too staring at our hibachi, I told you it isn’t normal.”
I rolled my eyes
“Oh for frig sake, he’s not staring at the hibachi, he’s staring at this massive fucking bag of charcoal and can of lighter fluid. I’m the one who looks like a tool, so relax. Besides, right now he’s staring at her ass. Wouldn’t you rather have him stare at your hibachi than your ass?”
He seemed satisfied once again, until the big lady in the lilac sun dress boarded the bus sat down across from us. Her eyes scanned the hibachi, the bag of charcoal and the can of lighter fluid. Her eyes kept darting around like bees in a bottle until she couldn’t control the impulse one moment longer.
“Why you got that BBQ?”
He looked at me with disgust and betrayal. I suppressed a laugh. She waited expectantly for an answer. Finally, when I said nothing he had no choice but to slip her some sarcasm for acknowledging our cargo.
“Geez, I don’t know lady, what do you think we should do with this hibachi?”
She looked at him and then at me and then at him and then the floor and then she said
“I think you should cook with it young man but you shouldn’t be carrying it on the bus, it looks crazy.”
He didn’t say anything for the next five stops, but when we got off the bus he stopped, adjusted his glasses, the hibachi and his attitude toward me.
“I hate this goddamn hibachi and it’s the last time I ever listen to you! Here, you carry the fucking thing and I’ll take the charcoal and lighter fluid, it looks much saner that way.”
And there you have it folks, a blast from Val’s past in all its banal and idiotic glory. Now, go out there and have a good July 4th BBQ and when you eat those hot dogs, remember, do not carry a hibachi on any public transit system and definitely do not do it on a fifth date. I’m just sayin’ is all.