Most of life for Trin Vega was moving from one awkward moment to the next. There was the unlocked bathroom door incident of eighth grade. The gym class yo-yo mishap shortly after that. The Potemkin Power Point Problem that got him laughed out of his last job. Trin was not so much an unlucky person, but rather a terribly, hopelessly awkward collection of memories and cells hoping to make it through at least one day without cringing over one action or another.
Today was not that day. Trin made a mistake.
Trin took a bus against his better judgement. The bus had people and people had feelings and feelings around Trin were usually “ugh”. The bus had four people on it; a mother and her baby, an old man in an ugly-Christmas-sweater with no intention of wearing it ironically, and sleeping fifty-something holding a leash attached to a dog the size of a rat. All Trin had to do was sit still, silent and wait for his stop. He was quite happy to play his part, he just needed every other variable on the bus to play along.
The rat dog barked at a passing billboard featuring cat food. The high pitched yip woke the baby. The baby screamed. Trin understood that; it sucked to be woken up by a creature that was bred to be food. As the baby’s wail filled the bus, the old man unironically wearing the ugly-Christmas-sweater rose and attempted to find a new seat further from the small human.
The old man unironically wearing the ugly Christmas sweater lumbered down the aisle, paying little attention to the other passengers. He muttered obscenities and spoke of how the entire bus riding experience had gone to heck in a hand basket since its hayday in the 80s. Trin cringed at the thought of what a bus through this town in the 80s must have smelled like. The baby’s mother attempted to apologize for the sound, but only the old man unironically wearing the ugly Christmas sweater seemed to mind. Trin thought perhaps the sweater was simply reflection of the old man’s inner self.
As the old man unironically wearing the ugly Christmas sweater, as he had come to be known, stepped by Trin, Trin attempted to pull his feet out of the aisle.
Trin made a mistake.
As his feet moved in, so did the old man. In the blink of an eye the old man’s unironic sweater was on Trin’s face. He tasted cat hair and smelled store brand butter crackers. His screams were muffled in the pine tree and hand gun pattern. “How is that Christmasy?” Trin cried as the old man writhed and squirmed in an attempt to remove himself form the tiny young man. With every wiggle, Trin felt new parts of the old man’s chest. Wiry chest hairs made their way through the sweater and into Trin’s eyes. The smell of Old Spice was forever ruined for him. He tried to think of his happy place; a wonderful land of carousels and cotton candy clouds. He visited this mental vacation spot often.
“This would not have happened in 1983, I can tell you that much,” shouted the old man as he finally pulled himself free of Trin and continued on his way.
Trin’s entire face shook as the moment ended He slowly opened his eyes and looked around. The baby was quiet. The mother looked on in horror. The sleeping fifty-something with the not-quite-a-dog remained asleep. The dog had walked over to Trin and began licking his shoe.
“I really need to get a bike,” he mumbled.