Sunday, December 13, 2015

BUS STORY # 475 (Portrait # 31: The Older Woman)

Downloaded from Lets Restycle.

The first time I saw her, I was amused. She’d just boarded and was talking to the driver. It was impossible not to notice: a slim woman in tight black leather jeans with an abstract diamond pattern in blue below the knees. Black and white diagonally striped tunic. Big black designer sunglasses. Hair short and feathered and white as snow.

White as snow and natural. I couldn’t be sure from where I was sitting, but I sensed I was only a few years behind her.  I remember thinking of a Leonard Cohen song for which I reversed pronouns:

I grew old and wrinkled
You stayed seventeen.

But here’s the thing. Most women this age trying to pull this off would have looked utterly ridiculous. I was amused, but also impressed. Good for her. I don’t recall any other thoughts, or where she got off. Maybe I got off first. I don’t remember.

I saw her again this afternoon.

She must have boarded before me because I didn’t see her until she came down from the back of the bus and stood by the rear door. Long, horizontally-striped black and white sheath dress, with a black scarf. Black gloves, not on, but in her left hand.

She wore makeup. Not the garish, old lady makeup that so often turns a fine old face into a travesty. Her makeup actually enhanced her age in such a way that I could see she looked good now rather than making me wonder what she looked like back in the day.

Not an old woman. The older woman.

I found myself wanting to tell her how good she looked. I rehearsed in my head: ma’am, you look fine. No. Ma’am, I just wanted you to know -- No. Ma’am -- and then I had the awful realization that I was at least twenty years too old for this compliment to matter.

The bus reached her stop. I could see the height and distance between the bus floor and the sidewalk, and I thought her dress was too restrictive for her to manage the gap. But she pulled the dress up a bit -- just enough for me to get a glimpse of sheer black stockings and tiny black boots, cuffed, with little heels -- and she stepped off that bus with absolute grace, as if this bus were just one more limousine and her exit just another grand entrance.

She didn’t need me to tell her she looked terrific.


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