The first thing he did after sitting next to me was mutter some incomprehensible gibberish to himself. He did this a few more times before suddenly opening his oversized text book, flopping it unceremoniously into my lap before muttering something else I did not catch and pulling it quickly clear of my thigh. I concluded that the muttering was probably just his audible cues as he reviewed his notes. Then things got weird.
It started when he pulled a battered pack of Du Maurier out of his book bag and began fidgeting with it.
I slapped a cigarette out of somebody's hand once when he started to light up on the bus, and I had this sinking feeling feeling of deja vu. After about fifteen seconds of fiddling, he calmly held the cigarette pack up to the side of his face as if he had just received a phone call on it.
We have a history of crazy people on buses in these parts, and in at least one case it resulted in one passenger disengaging a follow passenger's head from his body. For all its flaws, I am rather fond of my head, so I kept a wary eye on the gentleman next to me until I dared a closer look and noticed the nub of an antenna sticking just past the top of the cigarette package. I don't know if he was trying to hide the fact that he had a radio, or if the cigarette package just made a convenient protective case. In either even, it was more strange than crazy at that point.
On a different tangent, on our way to work this morning, atara spotted somebody out walking their dog in our neighbourhood, and she commented on how cute it was that the tips of the dogs ears were flopping as it bounced gleefully along. This led us into a broader discussion about dog breeds in general, and the practise of selectively mutilating dogs to "improve" their appearance.
Maybe somebody who is closer to the dog show culture can explain to me the appeal of purposely inbreeding harmful mutations into an animal, then (in many cases) performing needless surgery on their ears and lopping off their tails for our own vanity. In the grand scheme of things, I guess it is no worse than factory farming or any of the other indignities we visit on our fellow creatures, but the means do not seem to be justified in the end.
In farming, we are converting them into food, clothing and other useful things. As pets, we raise them for companionship. As working animals, we tend to emphasise good skills and survival traits. In dog and cat shows, we are purposely breeding them for genetic mutations to the point where we create animals that can barely walk, breathe or eat just to get the look we want. It just feels rather shallow and callous to me. It seems like we are intentionally doing a lot of harm to an otherwise loyal and noble animal, just so that we can stand it on a pedestal and grope its testicles.