Sunday, January 22, 2012

BUS STORY # 272 (Score!)

During the school year, we begin accumulating students bound for Jefferson Middle School somewhere around San Mateo. Pretty soon, all the seats are taken and the aisles fill up.

A lot of them are still what I’d call “kid cute.”

That cute quality is more than physical. There’s a still not-yet-fully-tamped-down exuberance and spontaneity that animates their expressions, and their mannerisms and behaviors. I know many of them are destined to evolve into what fellow bus blogger Richard Isherman calls the “Sullen Teens,” but right now, they’re bright-eyed and fresh-faced and fun to watch.

One morning, I watch two of them nab a pair of bench seats at the front when two adults get up for their stop.

One is a boy, probably a sixth grader, with long black hair, a black sweatshirt, and a skateboard. The other, sitting to his right, is a girl, with long black hair pulled back, a striped sweater, and a purse. She is obviously older, certainly taller, probably an eight grader.

They sit side by side and look straight ahead or away from each other or at their stuff.

Then I see the boy move his eyes to the right without turning his head, then up at another boy his size in the aisle, and the look he gives his friend takes me back a few decades.

It’s the “Lookit me sitting next to this hot eight-grade chick!” look.

I keep watching his face. It’s easy to see he’s trying to figure out how to take advantage of this unexpected opportunity -- what to say or do, and when to say or do it.

His opportunity comes when the bus brakes suddenly and she lurches sideways and up against him. He turns his face halfway to her and says something.

She turns to look at him, smiles, and says something back.


She goes back to looking straight ahead, and after a few minutes, I can see the look of pure triumph in his face give way to figuring out how to up the ante on that first success. He knows better than to look at her, and I’m guessing the next move is to turn that smile into a laugh.

But that second chance never comes. The bus arrives at the corner of Lomas and Girard and empties out.

I watch the girl go first, turn left, and quickly fall in with a group of girlfriends. She doesn’t look back.

The boy steps out, turns right, and joins up with his aisle buddy. He doesn’t look back.

Me, I’m thinking back to when I was his age, when all my brilliant strategies always came to me well past the window of opportunity. And even if they’d been timely, I would likely have experienced a failure of nerve. I’d’ve been sitting on that bench spinning my skateboard wheels and going nowhere.

But when I’d’ve gotten off the bus, I would have looked back. Looked back and sighed deeply, because I would have been watching another the love of my young life walk away oblivious to my existence.

But it all worked out for the best: I was available when my wife came along.


The photo at the top of this story is titled "Deviousness Disguised with Freckles," © All Rights Reserved, and is posted with the kind permission of Beth Crawford 65. You can see all Beth Crawford 65’s photos on Flickr at:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful story, between your "face reading" and recalling your youthful feelings, I suspect your take on the boy's thoughts was spot on. Score!

9:54 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Why, thank you for that nice comment, BBBH.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Brenda said...

I'm thinkin' it was your wife who "scored"! Here's another Well Done!

5:01 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Awww. I showed your comment to Mrs. Busboy, and she laughed. In a good way, I think.

7:19 PM  

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