This was months ago. April, maybe May. We only rode the bus together three times, only two times sitting together. The second I saw you, I smiled brightly, because you looked so nice. You were getting on the number 11 at the Lake Washington bus stop, at 9:35 on a Wednesday, heading downtown. You were one of the few people getting on the bus who had not immediately put out a cigarette or a crack pipe. You looked like the average super-casual tech worker or student. You saw me smiling at you, and your face sort of lit up.
You had a soul-patch-triangle-hairy-thing under your bottom lip, which I will normally not tolerate on white men, but you made it work. You wore drab grayish-blue clothes that were slightly baggy. I had chin-length brown hair and cute sunglasses. I was holding a cup of coffee that, true to Starbucks tradition, kept spouting forth like a caffeinated geyser from the tiny sippy hole in the top, scalding my hands as I attempted in vain to dry off with a flimsy recycled paper napkin.
You sat next to me. There was genuine sexual tension, which is rare in Seattle, and even rarer on the bus. You smelled REALLY, REALLY good. I didn’t make eye contact, although I took off my sunglasses so that you wouldn’t think I looked like a spy. I might have turned down my Shuffle so you wouldn’t know that I was listening to Mr. Mister. I didn’t make conversation. I just smelled you the whole way downtown.
What was that glorious smell? It wasn’t colonge. I have bought colonge for men before, and they don’t make men’s cologne that smells like this. Was it soap? Laundry detergent? A particularly wonderful brand of fabric softener and/or dryer sheet? I have searched in vain for the scent since meeting you. I want to douse the rest of the bus riders with it. Hell, I’d spray it all over my Shih Tzu if I could distill it. It was sweet, soft, but not girly. It was clean but not chlorine-y.
The next Wednesday, you got on the bus, and you sat next to me. Deliberately. There were dozens of empty seats on the bus, but you chose to sit down next to me. I blushed. You blushed. You smelled even better. You took out a book and pretended to read it. That book everyone is reading, The Kite Flyer or the Flying Kite or something by someone with an Iranian/Afghani/Middle Eastern name. Khaled. Ahmed. Whatever. I nervously asked you about the book. I think I made a really stupid comment about how I can’t read on the bus because I get car sick. This must have turned you on. You tried to explain the plot of the book, and you spoke very slowly and not particularly lucidly, in direct contrast to my high-pitched but enunciated prattling.
It was clear, probably to both of us, but certainly to me, that we were not romantically suited for each other. Nor was there any intellectual chemistry. It was clear as crystal. I had at the time, and still have to this day, a boyfriend that I really love. Chances are, you have a girlfriend who rocks your world. I didn’t want to do anything to mess that up.
I actually went home and told my boyfriend about you. I called you my Bus Boyfriend. I normally don’t tell my boyfriend about random men who want to hit on me but who, true to the Seattle way of life, don’t bother. But I told him about you because I wanted him to be aware that other, completely random men occasionally want to be physically close to me, because this is something that even jealous boyfriends are often prone to forgetting. You probably know, Bus Boyfriend, what it’s like when you’re with a girl for a couple years. If you know she’s faithful, you start thinking, “Hey, I’m the only one who has access to this poon…” Then you start thinking, “Hey, no one else really thinks about this woman but me.”
My boyfriend took notice when I told him about you; he felt the slight threat that was implicit in our public transportation liaisons, as incredibly platonic as they may have been. He fucked me really hard for a couple of weeks, realizing that he was damn fortunate to have access to this poon.
The last Wednesday I saw you, I noticed you too late. It was a bad morning for me, Bus Boyfriend. I arrived at the bus stop before having that necessary first cup of coffee. The weather was foggy. So was my brain. You got on the bus, and chances are you looked to see if our eyes would meet, because I felt a pair of eyes burning a whole in the side of my face. By the time I was jolted out of my reverie by your smell wafting by, you had passed by and had seated yourself farther back.
For one entire stop I contemplated getting up and sitting next to you. Then a gigantic man with an apparent allergy to soap wedged me in against the window, and it was all I could do to keep from straining my neck while looking back at you and hoping that you would at least get up and stand behind me, so I could smell something besides the 300-pound armpit pushing up against my cheek.
Then, after that, nothing. I never saw you on the bus again. I never got to inhale your pleasant scent again (Tide? Cheer? Bounce? Something from Trader Joe’s?). I smelled a variety of other, less desirable scents that other passengers had coated themselves in – urine, B.O., cigar smoke, booze-breath, copious amounts of Chanel 5 – sometimes individuallly, occasionally all at once. Do you KNOW how many people are drunk when they get on the bus, Bus Boyfriend? On the number 11 through downtown Seattle, 10% of the passengers are intoxicated, and they smell like it. And they sit next to me, Bus Boyfriend. Like you used to sit, only significanly closer and with more chutzpah and less shame.
Besides drunks, I have had the honor of sitting next to bitchy little teenage gay guys who lisp loudly into their cell phones. Old ladies with whooping cough. Girls who can be no older than 12, dressed like complete mini-whores, who put their Vans-clad feet up on the back of the seat in front of them. Children whose faces are completely obscured by snot. Young white men who think they are big black men, and attempt to speak “jive” (“Yo, yo, yo, man – that mah SHIT!”). iPod-wearing business men with long, long legs and a clear disgust for the fact that I have the nerve to take up exactly 50% of the bench seating.
Bus Boyfriend, where have you gone? Please return to remove me from this misery! I don’t want you sexually. Hell, I don’t even want to talk to you – you can’t even discuss the main storyline of a popular novel and you probably don’t want to know any more detail about my inner ear and motion sickness. I just want to feel that odd tension again. And I want to smell you. You were my bus sachet, my ego-boosting little bowl of potpourri. Please come back. When you were around, no crackhead could touch me. Due to the ever-so-slight threat that your presence created, my boyfriend nailed me more often and more sincerely than any other time. You made transportation tolerable, you improved my love life.
If you got a job on the East Side, I forgive you. If you graduated from the UW, I congratulate you. But if you bought a car and now drive yourself downtown, shame on you! Shame! Kyrie Eleison down the road that I must travel. Especially on the bus. Without my Bus Boyfriend.
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