I was sitting on the bus, on the passenger side. I could see the driver’s sunglasses reflect the lines painted on the asphalt while we rumbled along the road. I liked to pretend that I was going somewhere pretty, serene, with rolling hills and gravel that looked more gray than usual in contrast to all that green.
I wasn’t, obviously. I was sitting on the edge of my seat in an uncomfortably public bus. The seats reminded me of the carpet you see in the sticky corners of indoor roller-skating parks, the carpet just beside the arcade games and behind the locker shelves. Smeared with the oil of old pennys and musty with the dust of dinosaurs, the carpet seemed to suck your shoes in and keep your ticket stubs forever. I smoothed my hand against the seats, hearing my coat go swish, swish against the fibers. I wondered how long the seats of this bus had rumbled along this same road. Probably just as long as the dinosaur dust in roller-skating parks. The thought made me want to scoot off the edge of my seat just a little more.
For Christmas my Dad got some peanut-butter cheerios. They were in a cheerful purple box with some lady on the back promoting Cheerios. He got out a white ceramic bowl and a silver plated spoon. Having taken his first bite, he paused. His face wrapped itself up counter-clockwise, his mouth slanting across his cheek and his eyebrows stretching across his temples. His nose scrunched up and his cheeks hollowed.
I scooped up some of his Cheerios.
They tasted like what the carpet in Motel 6 look like.
I could practically taste the threadbare strands, scraggly and over-vacuumed, little squiggly lines and geometric triangles garish against the black background. It tasted like how the back of the closet looks when you first walk into your Motel 6 room.
I spat it back out.
I was bowling with friends, thumping in time with the loud music and flashing smiles along with the bright colored lights. The TVs blared commercials and bowling scores intermittently. I scored Progressive Insurance strike buy a cheeseburger 48 points next player. That was just as well, I’m certain Progressive’s rates were better than my score anyway.
We pranced about the green mottled tile, scatterbrained and laughing and delighted with our own idiocy. Our thoughts sprinkled the bowling alley, flighty and skittish, fidgeting everywhere. Our bowling shoes, in garish maroons and what might have once been blues, stuck fast to the floor with every step and little hop. The soles were so worn thin we could feel the second-rate carpet spring back against our feet. Gum was mashed into the rugs, weft and warp fibers holding it captive. The carpet seemed to sigh and shiver with every step, shaking itself off like some great animal just awakening.
The voice of our director reverberated around the auditorium.
She, in the long winded and singularly dramatic way of all drama teachers, then proceeded to tell us everything wrong with the scene we had just done.
And, in the short attention-spanned and completely insolent way of high school students, we tuned her out and instead focused on our daydreams.
I threaded my fingers into the carpet while my thoughts wove themselves around my brain. I concentrated on the bubbled fibers, crushing and running my hands into the blue and gray sea. It hurt to sit on, and would give lines in your wrists and indents in your palm when you leaned back.
I trailed my fingers up and down the grooves in the carpet, giving less than half an ear to my director. I scratched my nails across the surface. The drama teacher droned on, giving me a headache and the rest of the cast an earache.
I stopped paying attention, and instead contented my self with the texture of the floor.
Seems second-rate carpet has a good use, after all.