I rarely sit at the back of the bus. If I do, it’s never through choice. Say my usual seat (the first row on the raised step – left OR right, no preference) is taken. And say the only free spaces are a) beside the guy with a cold who keeps making Brad-Pitt-in-Kalifornia throaty snot noises, b) beside the arsehole playing sectarian anthems on his mobile phone while stomping his feet and whistling out of tune or c) beside the woman who hasn’t thought to turn her key pad tone noises off on her mobile phone BEFORE embarking on her bus journey text-a-thon – then if there’s a spot for me ‘up the back’, then up the back I will sit.
I think I must’ve been about 13. 14, maybe. I looked older then than I do now. I was sitting at the back of the bus – probably looking quite moody and wearing way too much make-up. There’s every likelihood I was wearing a leather biker jacket and some item of tie-dyed clothing. And maybe a scarf round my neck. In those days, sitting at the back of the bus (especially in either of the window seats) came with the added risk your clothes/shoes might melt or the backs of your legs might be seared by the bus engine burning through the velour/pleather seat. Nowadays, the risks of sitting ‘up the back’ seldom involve flesh burning but are more likely to include accidentally sitting in someone else’s bodily fluids or being engaged in conversation with a crim about how ‘thur jist oot the Bar-L and uv gote a contract oot oan thum’.
I can’t recall exactly where I was going, but at a guess, I’d be bussing to town to meet my friend Lesley. A couple of alternateen mallrats, Lesley & I spent most Saturday afternoons scuffing around Argyle Street in our Doc boots. Barely lifting our feet, we scuffed from one end of the St Enoch Centre to the other, our only plan being to ogle the tall, long-haired, handsome boy who worked in Hoi Polloi and to sit in the food court.
So – there I am, sitting in the left side window seat at the back of the bus, my legs hurting from the engine heat. The bus was busy and so it wasn’t long before the back row of the bus was jammed with bottoms. Eventually even the seats opposite were taken by passengers who’d weighed up how they felt about travelling backwards and decided that ultimately they didn’t really mind if it meant they didn’t have to stand for the duration of the journey.
A man sat opposite me. He was dressed in grey pinstriped trousers and a shirt and blazer. He was reading a newspaper. He had weird red curly hair. It looked as though it had been crimped. Crimped – but then gelled down flat on his head. His shirt was a little bit crushed up and his jacket had a wee stain on the lapel. He didn’t seem to mind that every time he turned the page of his newspaper he nearly had the woman next to him’s eye out. I don’t like being too close to strangers at the best of times, but there’s something properly creepy about staring into a face at close proximity on crowded public transport. I affixed my eyes on the man’s shoes. They were scuffed and tatty. As we bumped along, he continued to elbow jab his fellow passenger intermittently. I noticed a hole in the man’s trousers. He wasn’t wearing any pants. I could see hairy skin through the hole. Then his balls fell out.
Well, actually, they didn’t just ‘fall out’. They sorted of sneaked out. Little by little. With every bump in the road a little bit more… emerged.
You know what, I intended to go into greater detail about ‘the sneaking’ but now I’m typing, it’s dawned on me I really am typing about testicles (the owner of which seemingly hadn’t noticed were on the loose) and I feel a little bit awkward. Not only that but I feel a bit sorry for the poor fella who had inadvertently exposed himself to a 13 year old girl. That’s assuming he wasn’t some pervert getting a kick out of riding buses with no pants on and intentionally allowing his balls to bounce out of a rather conveniently placed hole in his trousers. Should I call the police just in case?
“Officer. I’d like to report a crime. A man’s testicles fell out of his trousers and I saw them. I’m not sure if he meant it or not. Them falling out and me seeing them, I mean”.
“When did this happen?”
“Um. 19 years ago on the 61 bus. He had hair like a giant Frazzle, if that helps?”
I think this is the end of my story about a man exposing himself on public transport. You will be relieved to hear I do not have any accompanying images for this blog post.