Scenario: You are riding the bus downtown. I know that you normally would never be caught dead on a public bus, surrounded by all of those stains and smells of unknown origins (not that discovering the source would make any aspect of them any better), but in this scene, you are. It’s rather irrelevant why you’re trapped in this derelict vehicle, but that’s not going to stop me from theorizing. Maybe you were trying to walk off that Almond Joy you splurged on at lunch and thought better of it halfway home, or perhaps you’re working on a revolutionary bus culture ethnography. Good luck EVER getting a job that will pay you to do that, amirite cultural anthropology students?
Anyway, you’re on this bus. You’re seated on the right side, about halfway back. You’re squished into the window, trying to avoid the invading thigh of your neighbor, who has been inching into your bubble since they first sat down. I say they because you have no idea what gender your seatmate identifies with, and there is no way you are going to turn your head to discover any more details about this individual and risk the possibility of a conversation with this creeper. Literal creeper, creeping toward you. Not that this has ever happened to me.
The dirty, tinted windows offer a poor view of the already poor exterior sights, so you stare ahead. You can’t help but notice the couple sitting in the row directly in front of you, who are engaged in an animated conversation. They are obviously quite well acquainted with each other. From where you’re sitting, they each appear to be thin and they share the same shade of hair color. They sport mirroring smiles as they exchange a playful banter over the events of the previous evening. As you crush your body even closer to the window, you find your face involuntarily scrunching as you ask yourself, “Are they related or dating?”
|The answer should be so simple, right?|
|"I know it's none of my business, but..."|
One morning, our foreign foreign language student teacher (not a typo, she herself was a foreigner and was also on the wrong side of 35) stopped to chat with us. It started off as a typical awkward teacher/student-out-of-classroom conversation, but then shit got weird. Suddenly, she interrupted the exchange with, “Okay, so you guys boyfriend/girlfriend, yes?” This wasn’t something we were used to being asked by a teacher, but the question itself wasn’t too crazy. We both smiled and shook our heads to signal that we were not. “Okay,” she began, the wheels visibly turning in her head, “then you are brother and sister?”
With a momentary sideways glance at one another, we silently exchanged our internal reactions of, “Did she just..? WHAT THE FUCK!? Is this real life?” We then choked out a forced laugh and ensured her that we were neither dating, nor siblings, just good friends. She looked at us suspiciously, like we were lying about one of them, before finishing the original conversation and heading to her classroom.
|We're telling the truth!|
There’s probably something to glean here about putting people into boxes and making assumptions and the possibly unhealthy relationship between Anya and me, but I’m already over our agreed-upon word count limit, so feel free to take away whatever you wish. I shall continue half-assedly playing the game with strangers and I will keep hoping that Anya and I are asked, “Siblings or Dating?” many times in the decades to come.