So I go to the Lady Doctor today for a check-up. In totally unrelated health issues, I also have a case of the stomach flu - the first of my adult life. My stomach spins and gurgles and generally cruelly reminds me of its existence more often than I would like. And when the Lady Doctor starts poking and prodding me in various places while I remain in my rather uncompromising position, I really wish I was somewhere far, far away.
And so then I get on the 96 - one of the major buslines that goes down the teeny little Parisian streets while making pit stops at some of the most crucial intersections. I join the crowded Parisian bus pack at about 18.30, an ideal time for commuting in any major city. I have about three-quarters of the line to go.
The bus pulls away from the stop and I double over in pain as my belly takes up gymnastics. No wait, I can't double over, because I am smushed up against the window on the left hand side and by the old man on my right, and he is smushed against me by the big head of hair in front of him. In front of me is a rather attractive guy about my age, so I'm not about to start grabbing him for support. Or should I? "Hey sexy, I might hurl. Can you hold me up?"
The motion of the bus and the constant jarring stops are making my stomach lurch. More people get on and we are packed like rats in a mobile box. And we've only gone three stops.
The bus pulls up to the Place du Chatelet, one of the major intersections in the very center of the city. Along the left hand side of where the bus is stopping are about five taxis waiting at the cab stand. It's a beautiful evening, and the cab drivers are standing around chatting with the casual hope of an eventual client.
I look down just below me and see that our bus is dangerously close to one of those cabbies' Mercedes. In fact, I'm pretty sure we just dinged it, nice and pretty-like all along the right side of the car. Tearing out of the pack of gabbing cabbies comes a big, scary-looking man who must be so close to his car emotionally that he can acutally feel its physical pain. How he saw that the bus hit his car from where he was standing remains a mystery.
But man is he pissed. He starts yelling at the busdriver, and tears off his coat and throws it on the ground in a way that can only mean "You and me, Busdriver Boy. Right here. Right now."
Busdriver Boy turns off the engine and steps down from his seat. He's a scrawny little toothpick of a man, tall and awkward with gangly arms and legs. He charges towards the cabbie, while a policeman heroically comes between the two like a policeman should.
(I think Busdriver Boy must have known that Copper was going to stop him. He would have been down for the count in no time had he so much as touched the enraged bear-like cab driver. That, or he was on a straight suicide mission)
The two of them take a few swings at one another, all of which manage to fall on the misplaced arms and faces of other cops that had come to the scene. A crowd has gathered to watch the spectacle. A few more cops wander casually over to inspect the damage done to the cab. One of them has his fly undone with his zipper sticking out enough to draw attention to the fact. A drunk homeless man tries to explain the situation to one of the cops, who prompty ignores him. He then drunkenly turns his attention to the crowd, acting the authority figure as to what really happened, wildly gesturing the reenactement of the event. Those of us on the bus are nearly suffocating to death, with no means of opening the door with the engine turned off. And I begin to consider fainting. Crazy Cabbie and Busdriver Boy are swearing loudly at one another, arguing over who belonged in that part of the street (clearly Cabbie was right) and generally causing a ruckus.
The cops finally side with the busdriver (such an injustice!), and help him pull out of the intersection. Drunk Homeless Guy serves as the guide saying, "Pull forward. Right. A little more to the right."
Mr. Busdriver drives the remaining twenty minutes to the train station like a maniac, and when the weary passengers finally explode onto the street, I gulp down the fresh air like water to keep my legs from giving way under me.
And then I realized that I left my prescription on the Lady Doctor's desk.