I knew Tony from the bus. When you take the same bus as much as I do, you get to know the other regular riders and drivers by sight. Tony takes my bus. He has very poor vision, has a cane with a red tip, but I think he can see very bright things. He always moves slowly, as though he has to think hard about how to place his next step. He is quite overweight and navigates with a kind of ponderous grace I’d associate with someone twenty years older than mid-forties, which is where I’d place him.
Today he was at my bus stop. I could have walked to the lumber store, but I’d gardened all day and I wanted a chance to just stand for a bit.”Is the bus coming?” he asked.
“Not yet, but I’ve only been here two minutes. The new ones are so quiet, aren’t they?” You can’t hear them coming, which is a big peeve, if you like to read while you wait, like me. Or, like Tony, if your vision isn’t so good.
Well, we started in on an epic conversation about the buses and somehow got onto snakes as pets. That’s when an old lady in a sand-coloured sedan rolled up: “Tony, you want a ride?”
He turned around. “Mom?” He excused himself and went to the car. He got himself inside, and she eyeballed me. Beckoned. “You want a ride?”
“I’m only going to Broadway,” I answered.
“So’s he. Hop in!” So I got a ride from Tony’s mom. Of course, I will discourage anyone and everyone from getting into a car with a stranger, but I didn’t think I was in any danger from an old lady and her sight-impaired son. And hanging out with Tony was fun.
It was great! Turns out Tony’s an avid gardener, and we talked about that. When we got to Broadway, we walked and talked at Tony’s pace.
“I never could grow a thing until three years ago,” he admitted.
“I spent thirty eight days in Saint Paul’s Hospital.”
“Yeah. I had what I thought was a pimple. On my bum.”
What? “Oh, ow.”
“Yeah. It turned into an abscess. It’s called a fistula.”
Um. What do I say? “Oh no.”
“It was actually a pus-filled sac that reached to under my scrotum.”
Did he say…Yes. He did. He’s talking about his scrotal area. “That must have been awful.”
“Yeah. but the doctor I saw in St. Paul’s did some tests, and I was in the O.R. the next day.”
“Thank goodness! So how did that start you gardening?”
“Well, I just started to learn and understand more. I love to grow things, but I don’t care if the plants actually give vegetables. I just love to see them sprout, to grow. It’s therapeutic.”
So. Despite not having a lot to contribute about scrotal-encroaching fistulas, I made a new gardening friend today.