When I was a junior in college, I studied abroad in Ireland. The experience was truly and completely fabulous. I mean, to spend a year of one's young adult life surrounded by charming Irish accents and learning to make bad choices? You can hardly beat that. I spent many weekends traveling around the country, taking the bus from my university. That bus is where our story begins.
One such weekend was spent in Cork with my housemate. J was another American in my study abroad program and we were eager to travel whenever we could. On Sunday afternoon, we boarded our bus to return home. We headed to the back, where there were 5 seats across the row. J sat in the window seat and I took the one next to her. It's common bus courtesy not to sit next to someone you don't know until the bus fills up enough that sharing seats becomes a necessity. As our departure time drew near, we were feeling more and more confident that we'd have some space to ourselves.
And then, he appeared. It was as if a dark cloud rolled in overhead, foreshadowing things to come. Had this been a movie, ominous music would have played to warn me. But sadly, it was not a movie, and all I knew was that there was a loud man on his mobile heading my way. He found his way to the back row, placing his bag on the seat next to me, taking the one on the other side for himself. I was privy to his half of whatever conversation he was having, taking note of his accent and fondness for language I wouldn't use around children or my mother. He didn't have the charming, lilting accent I'd grown to love, letting boys tell me lengthy stories even if I didn't understand them or found it boring. This was harsh, loud, and wholly unpleasant. Shortly after we began the several hours home, three things of note happened. One, this man took a can of beer out of his bag and cracked it open. Two, his phone ran out of credit, effectively ending his phone call. And three, J "fell asleep" with her head against the window. She was clearly faking it, but I had no idea why. Until he spoke to me.
A blissful moment of silence was ended when he took note of the phone in my hand and asked if he could possibly make a call. I told him I was low on credit, not a complete lie. Ah sure, he had a beer to finish anyway.
The next hour passed by uneventfully with J sleeping and my neighbor drinking a couple beers and receiving the odd phone call. He made sure to tell every one of his callers that he had a bag full of drink and was planning on getting very pissed on the way. Somewhere along the way, a couple older teenagers got on the bus, taking the seats in front of J and me. Lucky for everyone around, my seatmate befriended these two. They prattled on about inconsequential nonsense, which for the most part was not a problem for me. Sure, a bit annoying but it could be so much worse.
And then it got so much worse. "Ugh," my neighbor complained. "I have to piss." (Are you swooning yet?) Who could blame him? He was two and a half pints in! His sidekicks didn't help the situation by telling him there was no way the bus would stop. After a few minutes, Thing 1 said, "Well sure, you could just go here."
I froze, unable to pretend I hadn't been eavesdropping. He hitched his thumb my way. "Sure, she won't mind. Just find something to go in."
"Oh," I started in, "she minds." My eyes were narrowed at him, every word laced with venom.
Apparently nobody cared about that, though, because moments later my companion found an empty Snapple bottle in the seat by the window.
"Excuse me,"he said to no one in particular. My head turned away, my eyes screwed shut. This was not happening. No. There's no way. No way that a grown man would relieve himself on the---oh shit. Ohhhh no. I could hear it. I could HEAR the urine hitting the bottle. The man was truly peeing on this bus, a foot away from me. I tried catching J's eye, hoping to have a partner in this low moment of my life, but oh no. She was going to keep up that act even though I could see her texting underneath her purse.
You'd like my story to end here, yes? Oh, if only. My now empty friend resumed his inane conversation with my new arch nemesis. I began texting my friends at home in a desperate attempt to remove myself from the situation, at least mentally.
Not twenty minutes later, he announced in his very smooth way, "Ah, I've got to go again." Fabulous. This time, he grabbed one of his empty beer cans. I instinctively turned away, knowing what vision awaited me if I opened my eyes too soon.
I heard the pee hitting the can...and then I heard him. "Oh, shit." Quite an impressive string of expletives followed.
What?? Oh shit isn't ok! What's the oh shit for??
"I got piss all over my pants," he grumbles to Thing 1 and Thing 2. Turning towards me for the first time in ages, he uttered something I'll never forget.
"I'm sorry," he began in a much calmer way than he'd been speaking. "I hate to ask this, but there are some things a lady shouldn't see. Would you mind turning away?"
He wasn't even done speaking before I replied with a hurried, "YES" and faced away from him completely. I heard him digging around in his bag, and figured out that he was changing his pants. As I sat there, wishing for a giant bird to come eat the bus or something, anything, that would put me out of this misery, I laughed at the absurdity of it. He hadn't even hesitated to pee into a beer can in front of me, but changing his pants, now that was something to shield from a lady. He was actually trying to charm me! I guess chivalry isn't dead.
With his permission, I righted myself in my seat. I couldn't help texting friends about what was happening--none of them believed me. But his troubles weren't over. Not by a long shot. I saw him, staring in front of him. In the seat pocket were four beer cans. Two were empty, one was an unfinished beer...and one was his own urine. Dilemma. He carefully picked one up. Empty. Another. Empty. Another. Sniffed it. Looking satisfied, he took a drink. Ah, yes...beer.
Finally, mercifully, by the grace of God and one very clueless Bus Éireann driver, we arrived home. I've never exited a bus so quickly in all my life. On the way off, though, he left us with a goodbye...he grabbed J's ass.
Alright, maybe chivalry is dead.