“THE TIE THAT BINDS by Jenny Inzerillo
The 54A is bizarre. It’s either regulars going to work in smocks or starched pants, or it’s strangers in shirtsleeves fidgeting, sweaty and pale. The route starts at the Irving Park Blue Line, weasels west to Cicero and then bullets north to the Skokie Courthouse. Those of us lucky enough to ride because we have to, because we work somewhere north, notice the misanthropes daily. Drug possession, joint custody, DUIs and running a red: these boys (and they’re always boys) reek of pessimism and wear the inconvenience of the judicial system on their ironed sleeve.
Today I rocked steady, frantically flipping the pages of Try and letting the filling stations melt past my periphery. But this guy, this John Leguizamo’s less-fey-younger-brother fella, was tying his sharkskin tie for 40 minutes. From when I boarded at the Blue Line, until only two stops before I dismounted at 7300 North, and he STILL didn’t have it. He’s stood up repeatedly, readjusting, untying, starting over, but never angering, never looking to other riders for help. (Though, 40 minutes, I could anchor a clipper ship faster than that.) Finally, the stop before I pull my cord, he turned to me. “Excuse me,” he said, Hispanic inflection on the last syllable. “Is this straight?” Scared to look at the tie knot, fixed on his full lower lip, I dipped my sight down and gazed upon his tie. It was perfect. Tugged the cord, “Yes, actually. It’s great,” I told him. He smiled and said thank you.
Court. Totally court. I hope for joint custody.”