Sunday, May 31, 2009


BUS STORY # 135 (Ex)


It happened one day after work. I climbed aboard the bus, took a seat, and there she was: my ex-wife.

I don’t mean physically. My ex would no more ride the city bus than she would pump her own gasoline. I mean her picture was on the bus, across the aisle on one of the advertisements lining the overhead display area.

I tried to remember the last time I saw her. It had been a few years ago, and she was looking her age. She had those grandma arms she always worried she’d end up with when she got older, and I was surprised she was wearing short sleeves where they were on display. She'd always been hypersensitive about her looks, especially about those things she believed were flaws, and she took pains to hide them.

Up on the bus poster, I could see she’d lost the last 30-odd years. She looked exactly like she did when I first met her, right down to the expression.

I could also see she’d changed her name to Carrie Rodriguez, and that she was performing at an upcoming city-sponsored concert called Q-Jam. This was a big change, too, because, when I knew her, she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.

For the next several days, I’d see her every time I rode the bus, and I couldn’t help staring at her. I thought about going downtown to the Civic Plaza to catch her performance. I was curious about what kind of music she was making these days. After all, in addition to that second glass of wine, it was the astonishing revelation she not only knew who Leonard Cohen was, but was actually familiar with his music, that gave me the courage to ask her out.

The marriage was not made in heaven. But she bent my life’s course toward where I am today and with whom, and she introduced me to the music of Tom Waits and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. What else is there to be but grateful?

I had some misgivings about explaining all this to my wife when she would inevitably ask why I wanted to go see this particular performer.

It’s not that my wife is the jealous type, thank God. My ex was, and because she was, I’m still to this day feeling grateful for my wife’s trust. But something told me that telling my wife I wanted to see some young woman perform because she reminded me of my ex-wife and would she like to join me would not be the brightest relationship enhancement strategy I’d ever come up with.

As it turned out, my boss took the matter out of my hands. I ended up working that weekend. No concert, no rendezvous with the ex, for me.

It was Sunday afternoon, a day after the concert, when I decided to google Carrie Rodriguez. Her web site opened with the same photo I’d seen on the bus, except it was now gracing the cover of her latest album. The title of that album was Carrie’s way of setting me straight about who was who:

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