Sunday, February 08, 2009

BUS STORY # 119 (Pretzel Love)

I’m sitting square in the middle of the back row of seats in the bus. Just ahead of me, on the aisle-facing bench to my right, a young couple is entangled in a love knot.

Given my age-appropriate range of motion, I am fascinated by this teen flexibility. They are side by side, after a fashion. He is closest to me. He’s circled her waist with both arms, but has also managed a torso twist that puts the right side of his head just under her chin and resting against her. She has her right hand on top of his clasped hands. Her left arm encircles his waist. Her right leg is pulled up so that her foot rests on the edge of the seat. Her torso, thigh and lower leg are three tight, horizontal lines.

They don’t move for a long time. That’s as impressive as getting into the position in the first place.

He’s wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with a stylized green face on the left sleeve, green pants with the cargo pockets neatly ripped open down the middle, and black high-topped sneakers. A skateboard is wedged between his knees. He has a long hank of black hair hanging down like a curtain over the left side of his face .

She’s teen thin in tight jeans with some really cool-looking black boots. Her jacket is white and has fringed seams on the outside. Beneath the jacket is a maroon shirt, and just above his left forearm, I can see the leather-looking knob buttons of a short vest. A soft, fuzzy gray cap with a short bill perches atop a fall of copper hair.

From what I see of his face, I recognize a restrained, patient earnestness (although I was a few years older when I wore that expression). Her face is impassive, a fashion page look of boredom.

When I see movement, my first impression is he’s trying to kiss her. But he ends up speaking into her ear. He swings his head forward and she speaks into his ear. They converse like this for a while. I hear her laugh softly once. She may look bored, but it’s all part of the picture.

He finally does kiss her. It takes an awkward double twist of his torso and neck, but I can still remember the inspiration that will drive a young man into a desperately uncomfortable position. She kisses him back.

I realize that in all my years, I’ve never really seen two people kiss this close up. It’s not like in the movies. All I can see of him is the back of his head and that curtain of hair to the left. All I can see of her is the underside of her chin. It’s moving rhythmically, like fish gills.

His right hand has moved up and is fingering the knobby buttons of her vest. Her shirt has ridden up a bit in front and is showing skin. She senses this and with her right hand pulls it back down, kiss uninterrupted.


There are three other people back here with me, and two of them are not fascinated. They are either oblivious, or, more likely, practicing standard bus rider etiquette. Both of them are guys, early 30s. The guy on my right, directly in line with the couple, has shifted himself so he’s looking out the window at the apparently far more interesting sights of everyday Albuquerque. The guy on my left is looking straight ahead, bobbing his head to whatever is playing on his earphones.

The other interested party is a girl, maybe 10, maybe a bit older. She is sitting on the bench seat directly across from the couple, and she has been watching them with unabashed, unabated interest.

She’s plain and pudgy, and I find myself wondering what is going through her head. I watch her expression, and I wonder if she’s thinking she’ll never look like this girl, will never have boys wanting to sit with her like this on the bus, or anywhere else.

If she is, she’s too young to have developed all the protective filters. There’s no “ewwww” expression, no look of huffy disapproval. But I don’t see any look of sadness or envy or wistfulness, either. She’ just taking it all in.

By the time I reach my stop, I understand the real story here is inside this little girl’s head. There are some places you just can’t get to on the bus.


This remarkable photo is posted with the kind permission of digitalShe. You can see this photo and all of digitalShe's work at


Blogger Heather said...

I think this is my favorite so far...

12:38 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thank you, Heather.

10:00 PM  

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