Friday, November 6, 2009

One of these days, it's not even going to stop for us

I've been riding the bus to work from the stop near my house this past week. It just so happens that my fourteen-year-old catches her school bus at a location very near mine. Yesterday morning, I offered to walk with her to her stop, and we could hang out until her ride pulled up.
"Uh, that's okay, dad."
"But, you know, we haven't really seen each other much lately. This could be a nice time to catch up."
"No, really, that's all right. I just stand there and listen to my iPod, anyway."
"Okay, how about this, then." I consider myself really flexible. "How about we just hold hands quietly while you listen to your iPod?"
"Ha, ha." Then she left the house.
Alas, shut out by my daughter yet again. I navigated the lonely jaunt down to my bus stop in silence. Fortunately, Wild Kingdom, the Human Edition, ensued just a few feet from me. About five middle-school-aged boys stood waiting for their bus to show up. Actually, they weren't standing, they were trying to stomp each other's feet, forming a sort of clunky, adolescent River Dance. Naturally, nobody wore a sweatshirt, let alone a jacket—just t-shirts and jeans. These guys all had longish hair which covered about 65% of their cherubic faces. I'm fairly certain they had eyes and even eyebrows, but none were evident.
Again, my mind wandered back to the bus my sister and I used to catch in our neighborhood during junior high. The kids looked and acted like they currently do, except I don't think as many of today's thirteen-year-olds suck down a couple of Marlboros while waiting for the yellow chariot, like they did in my day. Usually, someone had a huge bag of Doritos or Barbecued Lays to share, which the smokers welcomed, since they now could mask their tobacco breath with nachoey, cheesy, tobacco breath.
Finally, we would pile into the bus, the bus driver already wary of what the next twenty minutes may hold. Some days were completely mellow the entire trip. The driver would play the Top 40 station, and I can remember some of the girls singing along with "Feelings" (I'm not kidding.).
Other days, chaos ensued. I hated riding anywhere near the back of the bus, because I had no desire to be associated with the kids who smoked or swore at the driver or yanked on the feathered haircut of an unsuspecting male victim (me). People would rise out of their seats as soon as the school was in sight and pile into the aisle. "Why?" I can remember thinking as I shoved my way into an opening. "What's the hurry? We're going to school." Nonetheless, this was a daily ritual.
As I snapped  back to the present, the yellow bus pulled up and the boys clumsily loaded themselves on. "I hope you guys don't make problems for the driver," I thought. "And somebody should've picked up that empty Doritos bag."

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