University walked by, a smartly dressed girl with stylish hair and a beret placed at a slight angle on the top of her head. "I can't stand her," said College disdainfully, to no one in particular. If she heard him, she gave no indication of it. Whether her snobbery where he was concerned was due to any original action of that sort, or to years of boorish treatment, I was unsure. And I didn't particularly care. She had always seemed a nice girl, but I had never spoken to her. University was always rushing off to a student council meeting, a debate tournament, a swing dancing competition, a political science seminar, an evening at the bar with her friends, a tennis lesson or to write a paper for one of her impressive list of classes. She was always attractive, always the mixture of smart, sport and art, always full of life and definitely living it. We all envied her, some of us hated her. None of us knew her. I suspected she might not be quite as happy as the world readily believed. Whether she was happy or not was, however, irrelevant. She had enough scholarships to spend the rest of her life studying, and was set to be a success in anything.
College couldn't stand her, as he was happy to tell anyone who might or might not be listening. He was jealous, we could all tell. He would never have admitted as much. He had been counting on an athletic scholarship to take him through his schooling. When he didn't receive one, he realized that he had blown his trust fund and could barely afford to live with his parents and take classes at his local community college. His bitterness plagued his life. He had never been academically skilled, but his outlook prompted him to achieve new lows and barely maintain passing grades. He still played football, but he lacked the passion he'd had in high school. He was forced to accept that he was not the best, and, because of that, lacked the will to try to be. His chances of accomplishing anything beyond his job as a gas station attendant were rapidly plummeting. I half expected him to fall in love with a girl and pick up the ruins of his life and go on to a relatively happy life. Maybe I was a dreamer.
Kindergarden interrupted my stream of thought with a loud wail. I sighed. Some days, I just had no patience with that man. "I want to go home now!" he enunciated, punctuating each syllable with a new level of piercing which I had previously believed to be impossible for a grown man. The red fire engine that he had been wheeling around the concrete flew past my head and landed in some bushes across the street. I suddenly felt a headache coming on. Dealing with an overgrown four year old who had apparently never been disciplined was not my favourite pastime. "Now Kindergarden, you can go home soon. Please play quietly." I braced myself for the yell I knew would answer my request. Why I bothered to try... Surprised, I looked up, and around. Kindergarden was not wailing, nor was he playing quietly. He was cowering in fear, huddled again the fire hydrant, still at least twice the size of his assailant. He began to whimper, and I almost laughed confronted with a grown man cowering before a boy of ten years. "Give me your lunch money!" Elementary B demanded, trying his best to sound grown up.
Kindergarden began to cry. "I don't have any," he blubbered. "My mommy wouldn't give me anymore because she said that I always lost it and..." he trailed off, apparently forgetting himself mid sentence. Elementary B shifted impatiently, unsure of what to do confronted with a new situation. College could no longer stand the drama, and stood from his slouched position, adopting his not insignficant full height. "Beat it kid. Leave Kindergarden alone."
Elementary B scampered off as quickly as he could while still believing that he mustered some form of dignity. College walked over to console Kindergarden, who appeared to have mostly forgotten the incident and was now entranced, following an ant's path across the sidewalk. I could no longer remember what great mystery of life I was contemplating, and so assumed the thinker's pose and stared down the street in no particular direction. No sooner had the meaning of life begun to become clear to me than I spotted Elementary G and Elementary A walking hand in hand. G was feeling a little less than cool holding her first grader sister's hand, but still puffed up with the authority of being entrusted with a lesser being. A was clinging half-heartedly to G, as though she feared her older sister, but was slightly more afraid of the world around her. The two made a picture of family, and the mixed feelings always felt for siblings, particularly with an age difference of seven years. One wearing what she, and probably boys her age, considered form fitting and sexy, the other, unisex appeal clothing. They didn't talk, and I watched them until they were out of sight.
High School F waltzed by shortly after them. She wore a brightly coloured trendy micro mini which, if a gust of wind cooperated, did not actually cover her derriere. She was a puddle of tanned flesh, a drop of clothing covering what she obviously thought was a significant portion of her body. On seeing College, she essayed a forced sashay, and shifted her course ever so slightly so that he could get a better view of her bare midriff and tight, transparent shirt. He willingly followed her with his eyes, heart beating with every step, as skirt lifted and shirt shifted. She tossed her blonde hair in the classic move, winked, and tried too hard to not look like she was looking at him. His imagination caught fire, and he saw her in all sort of capricious positions, both with and without skirt. I could tell by the look on his face everytime F came by, each day more determined to catch his already unwavering eye. She wasn't the girl I had pictured for him, product of fashion magazines, tanning salons and access to a parents credit card, but perhaps they were more fitted than I believed. Their affairs were not mine, I merely saw them daily.
I leaned back on the bench, and waited for the bus. It wouldn't come for another three hours.