February 4, 1999

A famous movie star's mother hates me.

I suppose I can't blame her. I accidentally called her "Sir."  I mooned her. And then I stepped on her dog.

It's a wonder she didn't have me arrested.

As it is, she simply glowered at my chest all the way through the Webster Tube. And when I got off the bus, she hissed something low and garbled and vaguely menacing in my general direction. It could have been worse.

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I was en route to that second job interview on Tuesday afternoon, feeling generally optimistic.

Truth is, at that moment I was more concerned with static cling than with salary negotiations. Halfway to the bus stop, my skirt had suddenly started to ride up my thighs in most dangerous and unseemly *fashion.* With every step I took, the skirt bunched a little further north. My concern wasn't so much with "leg exposure," per se ... it had more to do with the fact that I have always considered wearing underwear with pantyhose to be redundant. If you catch my drift.


It was too late to run back to The Castle and hose myself down with Aqua Net. (In wobbly three-inch heels, "running" wasn't much of an option anyway.)  And I absolutely could not miss this interview. So I clomped onward, awkwardly holding my skirt down with my arms and praying for a window seat on the bus, where I could sit and discreetly rub a little saliva on my pantyhose to keep it from riding up.

Unfortunately the #50 was standing room only. We are talking sardine can here, folks. Wall-to-wall. Nose-to-nose. Even the aisles were three-deep in cranky California commuters. I grabbed onto an overhead railing with one hand, right behind the driver, and held on for dear life as the bus lurched back onto the roadway and headed for town. Seconds later, we hit a pothole. My three-inch heels wobbled alarmingly. My knees buckled. Instinctively, I reached up and clutched the overhead railing with both hands.

And my skirt ... rose to the occasion.

Panicked, I let go of the railing with one hand and smoothed my skirt back down before anyone noticed. But now I was completely paranoid. If I held onto the railing with one hand and pinned the skirt down with the other hand, I might lose my footing on the stupid three-inch heels and go flying. But if I held onto the railing with both hands, I was going to give my fellow passengers the *show* of a lifetime.

Broken ankles heal. Broken dignities might not.

I grabbed onto the railing with one hand and anchored my skirt with the other.

Salvation appeared briefly at the next stop. The woman sitting directly behind the driver (in the little "jump seat") got off the bus, and I plopped myself gratefully into her spot. As quickly and demurely as possible, I adjusted my skirt and slipped out of my shoes, stashing them into my bag. That way, even if I wound up standing up again, I wouldn't have to worry about wobbling precariously on three-inch heels.

As it turned out, my salvation was temporary. At the very next bus stop, another congested knot of passengers boarded the #50  ...  among them, an elderly blind man with a guide dog.

The dog  --  of indeterminate midsize breed  --  leapt onto the bus ahead of his master and dove directly into the space below my seat. Obviously this was part of his daily routine. The elderly blind gentleman, swathed in an enormous overcoat and carrying a cane, haltingly boarded the bus. While he conferred with the driver, I gathered my stuff, smoothed my skirt for the bazillionth time and stood up.

"Please take my seat, sir," I said politely, and I lightly touched his elbow.

He looked at me in what can only be described as clear disdain.

I mean ... he looked at me. Probably with better eyesight than *I* have.

In CLEAR disdain.

Because not only was he not blind (the dog and the cane sorta had me confused, I guess), and not only was he not elderly (maybe fifty-something, tops -- and if you consider that to be "elderly," you're reading the wrong website, bub) ...

... but "he" was a "SHE." (And a vaguely familiar-looking she, at that. Who did she remind me of??)

I gave her my seat anyway. What the hell else was I going to do? She sat down in the aisle seat I had just vacated. I grabbed onto the overhead railing, directly in front of her,  and off we went. Other passengers pressed into me from all sides: I was literally hanging over this woman's lap. I could have parted her hair with my chin. Every time we hit a bump in the road, our knees crashed together.

We each pretended that the other didn't exist: it was the only way either of us could maintain any dignity. (Not unlike some marriages I have known.) I gazed nonchalantly out the window. She glowered hatefully at my breasts, swaying seven inches from her face. I sneezed on her, once. She didn't say "geshundheit."

My skirt was moving inexorably *northward.*

Her dog ... was licking my feet.

It was the longest bus ride of my life.

When we finally, thankfully got to my stop, I let go of the railing. I didn't look at her. She didn't look at me. I turned around, bending over to pick up my shoes ...

... and my skirt, crackling with electricity, instantly rode to the top of my hip, affording her a two-second peek at my left buttock *in profile.* (Or it would have afforded her a peek, if she'd been looking. Which she wasn't.) I yanked my skirt down again.

I was by now painfully anxious to get off this bus.

I stepped sidewise, crablike, trying to squoosh past the clump of passengers and find my bag ...

... and stepped, with a horrifying crunch, onto her dog's tail.

Pandemonium! Chaos! Bedlam! Hullabaloo! Screaming dogs, panicky bus passengers! (Or was that panicky dogs, screaming bus passengers?) All hell broke loose, anyway. I wasn't wearing the three-inch heels  --  thank god  --  and I didn't step on his tail all that hard  --  honest  --  but from the ensuing ruckus you'd have thought I'd just shot Ol' Yeller, right there on the #50. The dog backed under the seat and howled, and his owner flailed and hissed at the passengers (me especially), telling them to "get the fuck away from my dog!" and the bus driver shouted at the woman to "control her animal or get off the bus" ...

... and in the confusion I scooped up my belongings and squeezed my way ('excuseme excuseme excuseme') through the knot of bemused passengers and got off the bus.

I stood on the sidewalk, celebrating my escape. The woman was glaring out the bus window at me, lips moving noiselessly.

"I don't know why that woman even take the bus anyway," said a girl standing next to me. "She richer than God."

"Oh really? Who is she?" I asked. By this point I just wanted to go to my interview and forget the entire incident ... but I was curious. The woman had seemed oddly familiar.

"She's a movie star's mother. Look at her. Who does she look like? She look just like her daughter," said the girl.

I looked up at the window one more time. The woman was still glaring murderously at me. And suddenly ... I knew where I'd seen that face.  Or at least, a face genetically identical to the one mouthing obsenities at me now. That face had been in one of my all-time favorite movies, for one thing. That face had won an Oscar. That face had been aboard The Enterprise, forcryingotloud. (And if that face is currently appearing on a tired retread of a tired TV game show ... we'll overlook it.)

Oh. Wow. Really?

"So I just stepped on a movie star's mother's dog?" I said, and the girl nodded. I wasn't completely sure I bought it. This IS California, after all: it could be true, or it could be just so much bus stop gossip.  But at the very least, it would be a heck of a story to tell the Tots.

I headed off for my interview ... holding firmly onto my skirt.



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