Riding on the Max, one sees a lot of stereotypes acted out in hyperbolic detail. Skinny, crackhead black women who talk too loud. Drunken hispanic men who lewdly ogle women. Developmentally disabled folks playing strange, childish games. And always, when going past Lloyd Center, the hoochies. Lloyd Center, at one point, must have been the height of Portlandiac accomplishment, because it’s huge. And now, in it’s eightieth year of economic-implosion-based decline, it is the hangout for the urban youth of Portland. And by urban, I mean black.
Riding the max anywhere near it guarantees you will be packed into a car with gyrating, constantly yelling, undecipherable language spewing, R-Kelly-peeing-on-aged girls, and a bunch of guys who look like they’re trying out for “hard ass mofugger number 4” in the new “Murda Masta BlaXX” video. But not this day, this day, the car was pretty empty. It had only me, three other downtowny-types coming back from the office, a cyclist, and… The Whore. Not just any whore, no, this was the die from which all of hookerdom was struck. Just sitting there, talking on her phone, half-shade purple tint glasses, bare midriff shirt, lowrider jeans.
Let me take that back a step. These weren’t low jeans, they weren’t sag jeans, these were custom units, had to have been, so low, in fact, that three quarters of an inch of perfectly-trimmed pubic hair peeked over the belt. She had to have known they were this low. This was “why is my clit cold, it’s kind of drafty in my pants” low. She had her hand in her pocket, thumb resting on her hip just above the beltline, so she had to know, had to. There was no way not to know that these jeans were that low. So, I did what everyone else on the car did, tried to find a way to stare at her chonch discretely.
I chose the off-the-window method, which offers less detail than a behind-a-book gambit (as the cyclist and one of the other downtownies was opting for), but more continuous viewing. Left without a book, one of the others had decided on trying to hide his gaze behind a route map, which may or may not have been just held upside down in the hand, and a less adventurous gentlemen next to me was using the “look and then look away at random intervals” to fair success. Everyone was fairly happy, because muff shots is muff shots, no matter where they comes from. For three stops we pushed on like this, everyone getting their fill of downy, red-blonde locks, until That Guy got on.
Everyone shifts when That Guy gets on, because their views have been blocked. Cyclist guy shifts first right, and then left, I start looking for maybe a double-reflection shot that’ll work in the short term, the look-and-avoid guy moves to the other side of the car trying for a new angle. Nothing is working, this shit just isn’t right, That Guy isn’t following the rules, he’s moving for _optimum_viewing_, not for shared viewing. I look over to Book guy, see if he’s got a lock on it, and he’s just staring up. So is Look-and-avoid. Cyclist guy and I both look up at the same time. Time seems to slow, and the light coming in from the windows is somehow changed. Golden. We’re all looking at That Guy, agape. I didn’t believe it at first, it took a full 30 seconds to take it in.
He was staring at her crotch. Just straight at it, no obfuscation. No distance-vectoring, no reflections, no book. He didn’t even have headphones in so he could fake zoning out to the music. Nope, he just walked in, homed in on the pubes like a guided missle, parked himself two feet in front of her, and _started_staring_.
Ladies and gentlemen, the game has changed. Like the introduction of the slam-dunk for basketball and the end of the dead-ball era for baseball, the demolition of a paradigm. This was amazing. The guy just stood there, staring at her vag! I cannot impress this upon you enough, he just walked in like Aaaahnold in The Terminator, like he had some kind of headsup display that said “Coochie 2.0000135 M NNW” and had grid overlays and stuff, he just stomped over, no words, and bam, started staring at it. As I looked around to take in the awe of my fellow riders, I again was struck by the sweetness of the air, the purity of the light in the car. It wasn’t the same as the air was before. It wasn’t the same light. It was somehow better, cleaner.
And I realized that I was feeling the same thing that people must have felt on that fateful December day in 1955, upon watching a colored woman refuse a request from the driver to vacate her seat and let some white folks sit down. This was my Rosa Parks.