The other day I got on and sat down, and immediately I could hear someone having a way overloud cell phone conversation. I sat down as far away as possible, but it wasn’t far enough.
“There’s no hope for this country. That’s what the pope said. The blessed virgin won’t sit back and let this happen any more,” some lady was saying into a phone. She had a theater voice, the kind that can reach the cheap seats.
After a conversational pause she’d continue.
“It’s all lechery and lewdness. What’s happening in our country, there’s no hope.”
Or, “They’re spitting on the blessed virgin.”
Or, “There’s going to be a war. The Catholic countries won’t stand back and let them do this to our lady. There's going to be a war, and this forsaken country will learn its lesson.”
Or, “The pope knows, they’re violating our lady.”
Or, "This is not the time and place for this conversation. I'm on the bus."
She went on and on, for almost half an hour. She’d get louder and softer. It was rhythmic, like the ocean's tide, like your mother rocking you to sleep at night, only your mother is some sort of Catholic Osama bin Laden.
“Look, can we talk about this some other time?," she'd ask her unseen interlocutor.
This went on, and I tuned her out.
But once the U of M students started crowding onboard, standing room only, I started noticing the lady again. She was still talking, and it was getting rather uncomfortable.
“All this fornication,” she’d say, well within whacking distance of dozens of hormonal collegiates. “They’re violating our lady.”
She went on and on about “our lady” and “the blessed virgin" until, finally, a girl got off at the campus center and said rather pointedly, “That’s not funny. I’m Catholic.”
The lady went off like a roadside bomb.
“Do you know who I am?,” she yelled. “Do you know who I am? Do you know who I am?”
The girl didn’t know, apparently. She got off the bus without another word, and it was a wise decision.
But our lady had more to say, and kept right on going with lewdness and violation, chatting away.
Curious, I switched seats to get a glimpse of our lady. She was white, in her 50’s, wearing a purple hat. I stared into her beady eyes, and she stared right back, blank as a Hollywood pistol. She was looking right through me, and that’s when I realized she didn’t have a cell phone.