Needs Must When the Devil Drives

People do crazy things on buses. Or, at least they do when I’m on them. Once, in New York, I was on an east side bus going uptown, and someone was flossing her teeth.

The entire bus smelled like mouth.

The other day, on the 130 heading into town, a woman [is it only women who crazy things on buses?] was cutting her fingernails. And just letting the shards fall to the floor! Has she never heard of voodoo?! I wondered.

I joined the elite ranks peopled [womaned?] by such creatures, last night.

4C, postively balmy, and all was well. Except… I don’t know, something happened, and my toes got very, very cold. And felt wet. I had groomed Reb before the lesson, and his stable was in okay nick, but nothing terrible, not full of puddles, or anything. I didn’t step in any water. I didn’t hose off the muck on my boots. I don’t know, whatever, my toes felt cold and wet and if I hate nothing more than bullies and snow and queueing on the tarmac for hours waiting for take off, it’s having frosty feet.

After the lesson, during which nothing felt cold except for the aforementioned toes, I stood at the bus stop, praying for the bus to come, hopping from one frigid foot to the other, and tried to ignore the siren call of the dry boots in my bag… and the spare pair of socks.

If you’re me, you travel to the yard loaded for bear. No toasty warm vehicle for me to hop into and toodle home. I have to be prepared for all eventualities, and in winter, I’ve got a pair of track suit bottoms, a spare top, and yes, extra socks, just in case.

I was appallled at the notion that I was not only going to take off my boots on the bus – I actually do this all the time – but that I was also going to expose my feet to the general public.

I can’t do it, I thought, as the bus pulled up, and three other people got on with me, and there was no room in the back of the bus to take up two seats in the corner and surreptiously strip down to my naked toes, and – Nooooooooooooooo! – the girl, who was definitely not at the stop before I was, and who cut me in the queue to get on the damn thing, took the seat in front that would have been my second choice –

I resigned myself to dampness and chilliness, and huddled inside my down coat, as if that could relay some warmth down below. I kept an active inner monologue running in my head, trying to keep my mind off my boots whilst, nevertheless, working out my options: I could go up top of the bus, but there was no leg room, much less sock-changing room, or I could go and sit in the seat at the front, there was loads of room there, except that it faces into the bus, and felt that was a bit too performative –

The girl who cut me off got off, and I hustled down the aisle and threw my bag on the seat and got to work, all the while thinking Thank God! and This is gross, this is gross, gross, gross as I unzipped my half chaps, pulled out my walking boots, and dug out the blessed, dry socks –

Which were freezing cold, having sat in the locker in the unheated anteroom of the centre’s office, for over an hour. But you know what? They were dry, and that’s all that mattered. I hurriedly pulled them over my pale, trembling flesh, my peeling pedicure adding a level of… inelegance to the already grotesque proceedings.

I bent over in two -almost in three! – trying to hide my bareness from the gaze of the other riders, but I couldn’t resist giving both feet a brisk, bracing rub before sheathing them in their wonderfully dry new friends. As I zipped up my boots, and organised my bag, and sat back in relief, I didn’t even care that I was that one in the big, blue puffy coat and the hair sticking out all over, and that whip!

My feet were dry, and I was content.

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