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Strangers in the Not-so-Night

Posted on September 22, 2009 at 1:41 PM

I was waiting for the bus on one cloudy gray morning in October.  I'd just been officially divorced and like a magnet for them, met a lot of creeps, which decided for me that I was going to be just fine - me, Khushi and Princess (my rabbits at the time) - alone.  I did not need a man in my life anyway.  Most women seem more successful and happier without one, ironically.  Lol...


As typical of Cleveland area weather, it appeared ready to rain at any given moment.  I was late for work, which of course means that the public transportation had to additionally be late to ensure I was really late for work when I'd finally get there.  So I'm loving life wearing my angora sweater (ssh! don't tell my pet rabbits), no raincoat, and late for work.


I noticed a man cross the road down a ways, but it wasn't noteworthy at the time and promptly put out of mind.  I'm busy trying to formulate the world's best excuse for being late for work anyway.  And remember, I told you already I'm not interested in men anymore.  I meant it; I really did!


I look back down the street for the bus and my vision catches on this tall man walking this direction, dressed in a business suit (I swear it is green and I am not color blind, but Elwood showed me the suit he surely dyed taupe just to prove me wrong - lol...), cell phone pressed to one ear and thick well-styled GQ hair waving in the breeze.  He glanced backwards so I assumed he was getting ready to cross the street.  I sighed at the fact that - even though I'm done with men - it would have been nice to say hi.  I mean that's just being pleasant anyway.  It'd be the polite thing, greeting a person who walks past you.  I was carefully taught by my grandmother to be polite, see.


Out of nowhere, as if the man who walked out of my dreams had conjured it, the bus pulled up to my stop.  As the door opens I realized Dream Guy is getting on the bus because he did the universal 'after you' gesture (what a gentleman).  My stomach filled with butterflies and I wondered at my possible good fortune.  "He must be married."  I greeted B~ the bus driver on duty that day (see, told you I was only trying to be socially polite).


The man gets on and concludes his conversation and greets the driver too.  "He knows the driver?"  The stranger stands up front and chats with B~.  I took a seat decidedly where, had the stranger been interested in sitting down, he might have wanted to choose an empty seat nearby.  Or maybe I can pretend that I was in a grouchy mood still and suggest that I wanted no company?  Yeah, I didn't think I'd get away with that by now.  Especially after I looked immediately for the left hand and third finger, which was naked and clear of telltale signs of any female ownership.


Every time the bus would make a stop I would hold my breath, "Don't get off, don't get off, don't get off..."  People would get on and the bus would continue and he'd keep talking amicably to B~. 


Inspired, I finally decide that, amongst all these people I don't have the courage to just go up and boldly profess my undying love for him (after all, how many times do I have to tell myself I'm done with men - I mean tell you...), I'd get a bus schedule as if I hadn't been taking this bus for years now and knew it better than my mother's birthday.  So I get up and go down the aisle toward him.  Just as I neared him, my shyness got the better of me and I ducked my head.   I heard the stranger say "Good morning" and I couldn't even hear my "hi" in return (so much for my grandmother's lessons in politesse - sigh!).  I grabbed the schedule and scurried back to my seat.


So now I'm sitting there kicking myself at such a wasted opportunity to talk to him and the bus stops to admit a cute bubbly blond.  "Don't you dare look at her!" I said territorily to a man I could barely even say hi to a moment ago.  Oddly enough, he barely gave her a glance!  Here I thought my competition had just entered the ring and while I have to admit she noticed him, he spared her hardly a glance. 


Inspired again, I decide to write my phone number on the bus schedule.  There are more than one way to skin a cat, after all.  This would not involve a lot of verbal communication since obviously I was miserably failing in that department this morning.  So I plan my attack, as we near the downtown stops.  I came up to get off the bus and leaned down to B~ to ask, "Do you know this guy?"  "Yeah, I know him really well, why?"  "Is he a good guy?"  "Yeah, the best!"  "Okay."  I was relieved to have rediscovered my tongue; I guess so long as I didn't have to talk to the tall handsome stranger?  Inspired one last time, I gave the schedule to B~ to give to this man.  What a relief that was, let me tell you!  But of course, nothing we delegate can ever go easy.


B~ told me not to get off at the first stop, which always struck me as odd.  So we turned the corner and the bus arrived at the 2nd possible stop.  I noticed that the stranger was preparing to get off at the same time.  I stepped off and immediately got caught up in a crowd.  I looked around for him, only to find him trucking down the sidewalk already!  I looked back at B~ as he pulled the bus away and he shrugged, then signed that he'd phone me.


I sulked.  I didn't want to talk to B~ for pity sake!  I wanted to talk to the hot stranger halfway down the street, moving at a faster pace than the bus could.


Well, true to his word, B~ called me that night and by chance was telling the truth when he said he knew that stranger well.  He had his phone number.  Luckily he didn't hold those digits hostage because I don't know what I'd have done...yes, the same woman who'd given up on men.  You going to hold that over me forever now?  Lol...


Next came the unbelievably embarrassing phone call.  What on earth was I supposed to say?  Yeah, I'm that "girl" on the bus...or how about I'm that girl in the dress who couldn't even talk to you this morning, do you remember me?  Better yet, I'm that girl on the bus...and then what?!  I took a deep breath and hoped for some sort of divine intervention before he picked up.


Only he didn't pick up.  It rang to voicemail.  I thought about hanging up, but then I'd have to call again and that alone was fear enough to motivate me to leave a message.  Aside from the whole "I'm that girl on the bus this morning..." I have no idea what I said.  Needless to say, he didn't call me back.


I went to work the next day thinking I'd surely blown my chance.  I'd felt on the bus that if I didn't act at that moment, I'd lose him forever.  It might have been a melodramatic fatalistic hormonal thought...but given our subsequent conversations I've been led to believe it might have actually been quite true.  We've been so close to meeting and might have even seen each other at various other points in our lives and just never actually "met"! 


By mid-morning I was going nuts and went down for coffee at the cafe in our building.  I talked to M~ working there in those days and groused about my luck.  "T (he actually called me this, this isn't an attempt to protect my identity - ha ha), he's going to call you back."  "Maybe I should call him again?"  "No!  He's going to call you."  By now M~ is laughing at me, which at the time I wasn't too pleased with, let me tell you!  "Give it until after lunch," he told me, "I guarantee you he's going to call."  Finding my muse, I asked him, "If he doesn't call me by lunch, are you going to give me a free cup of coffee tomorrow?" 


"," he said suddenly disconcerted.  Didn't think so, but it was worth a shot - besides he'd just said he was guaranteeing me success, didn't he? 


Well, oddly enough, Elwood did call me - nearly right about the time M~ had said he would too, which was really odd.  But I digress!  I missed the call and poor Elwood had to leave a message - actually, what am i saying?  Serves him right for having his phone shut off.  After all, he ought to have known that I was interested and was going to call him, right?  I mean the ignoring his greeting wasn't intentional...and I did try to say "hi" back.  I had that secret conversation with B~ while he was standing there and gave him that bus schedule.   Lol...


When we did connect, it was to make a lunch date for the next day.  I didn't know how I'd last until tomorrow, but then I got a call from Elwood that evening.  Turns out he was right at that bus stop we'd "met" at.  I told him in a rare moment of unprotecting my privacy to come to my house because I lived near it!  So he came over and we talked and talked and talked.  I guess I was making up for lost time?  Lol...


We went to lunch the next day, and that night he came over again and we went out for dinner.  Then we had lunch the next day and he came over that evening.  I don't think I need more than one hand to count how many times we missed eating lunch together or spending every waking moment together.


In a matter of months, he was moving in and we were planning our wedding.  In January 2006, he officially proposed (mostly only because it took us that long to find a decent ring for our budget of near-nothing).  We were both so happy.


I think about a woman I know whose husband is emotionally unavailable, but present physically.  Then I consider how emotionally available my husband is to me even though physically we're only allowed to see each other on the weekends and holidays up to 7 times per month.  I consider myself very lucky.

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