Sunday, November 12, 2006

BUS STORY # 10 (There Ain’t No Cure)


Folks make and take calls on their cell phones on the bus. Sometimes their conversations are discreet, and sometimes they’re not. One afternoon coming home on the Lomas bus, a guy sitting behind me and across the aisle made a call. His conversation, audible to everyone on the bus, went something like this:

“Hey, Mark. This is David. I just called to let you know I won’t be hanging out with you guys tonight. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I got a lot of things going on in my head right now, and I need to chill out. I don’t want to end up shouting at you or Lisa or Ray because then you won’t want to hang with me, so I’m just gonna go home and think tonight. It’s nothing personal. And tell Lisa I’m sorry for whatever it was I did, and ask her if she’ll tell me Monday what it is that she would like me to change, and I will. Just ask her to tell me Monday, OK? Tell her I’ll do whatever she wants. I just need to go home and think tonight, OK? OK. Yeah. It’s nothing personal, I just don’t want to end up shouting at you guys, and then you won’t want to hang out with me anymore, OK? OK. And don’t forget to tell Lisa, OK? To tell me what it is she wants me to do. I’ll do whatever she wants me to. Yeah. OK. I’ll see you later.”

I didn’t turn around, and I found myself imagining David based on the conversation and his voice. His voice sounded young. It sounded really sad and really lost. There was something determined and stolid in the articulation. I wondered about his IQ. I was conjuring up an image - tall, skinny, long dirty-blond hair coming out from beneath a baseball cap, faded black T-shirt, beat-up jeans – when I heard his voice again:

“Hey, Ray. This is David . . . ” The conversation replayed itself.

I wondered if he was going to call Lisa next. He didn’t. When he finished talking to Ray, it was quiet until he got off. I watched him crossing a parking lot as we began pulling away. Young, beefy guy with a shaggy burr, brown hair. He was wearing an untucked short-sleeve sports shirt and cargo shorts. I could see his voice in his walk.

Here’s the story: David was in love with Lisa. Hopelessly, of course. I knew this as surely as I knew what he looked like from the sound of his voice. It brought back some uncomfortable memories, and I felt myself wanting to make it better for both of us. But there’s nothing to be done for hopeless love except ride it out. And then, if we’re blessed or cursed with a certain level of awareness, there is the inevitable, crushing embarrassment to be gotten through. The bus rocked on up Lomas, and I felt grateful I was an old guy and contentedly married.

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