15 July 2012

The School Bus. And what happened therein...

As we settle in our new community (six days 'til we are in the new house!), we're starting that potentially awkward phase of getting to know other couples. This means dinners out and playing a more nuanced version of the "What's your major?" game from college.

Last night was another round of that game.  Dinner with new friends and the company was great.  The conversation flowed easily.  I was thrilled, thrilled I tell you, when they openly mocked Fox News and Sean Hannity (remind me to tell you about the time I was speaking at an event at the Orlando Convention Center and a Hassidic Jew thought I was Hannity...good times).  If the other couple opens that door, I can talk politics without getting a roundhouse kick under the table from the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML.  That said, I tempered myself (further proof I may be maturing) and talked about other things. We talked about the little town we are moving into and they pointed out that because of the size, the school busses carry all students. You've got everyone from 1st graders to high schoolers (woe unto that poor senior!) on the same bus.  Can you imagine?!

That got me thinking about the few years I spent on the bus.  They weren't pleasant.  The school bus, typically driven by older women looking for 'pleasant' alternatives to lunch room duty or by borderline pedophile men, is a Dickensian rolling microcosm of the social theater of cruelty that is middle school and high school.  Remember this scene from the AWESOME "Sixteen Candles?":
You go, Farmer Ted!
My own 'Farmer Ted' moment came in 8th grade.  The 70's had been gone, mercifully, just a few months and the full cultural train wreck that was the 80's hadn't quite left the station.  That said, even in 8th grade, girls' hairstyles were big and held high by copious amounts of ozone-destroying hairspray of all stripes.  The aromatic combination of hairspray, Jean Nate, and Arizona's excessive year-round heat made the bus all the more pleasant horrific.  Now add to the mix the chomping of this:
This gum, which I believe every middle schooler was required by law to chew, was nothing more than a large sugar cube wrapped in chemical that made it chewy.  You could actually feel your teeth rotting away with each piece. Anyway, I'm on the bus, one hot spring afternoon, heading home and I'm gnawing chewing on the above-referenced gum.  A buddy of mine is next to me and sitting in front of us is The Girl, one of the big-haired crushes that all the 8th grade boys shared.  As we trundled down the road, my buddy and I were no doubt discussing The Girl's finer points, which included her huge hairstyle, when I attempted to blow a bubble.  Instead of blowing a bubble, said wad o'gum flew my mouth like a Scud missile with Saddam's name on it and lodged itself in The Girl's shampoo commercial worthy mane. My buddy and I froze waiting to see if S felt the impact.  She didn't. We could see that the mix of chemicals from the hairspray and the gum had already set in and that wad of gum was going nowhere.  I determined right then and there that nothing was going to be said. Our stop could not have come fast enough and my buddy and I hauled off that bus without a word.  Not my finest hour.

I was mortified the next day when I saw The Girl on the bus that I hated.  I was relieved that her hair didn't look any worse for wear.  It was apparent that the gum missile had been safely diffused and removed by a crack team of gum-removal experts. Whew! I vowed to never chew gum on the bus again.

Suffice to stay, I stuck (no pun intended) to that vow. To The Girl, it may be a little, well a lot, late, but sorry about the gum.  What's funny is that I can't remember her name, but I sure do remember that bus and what happened with that stupid gum.  I'm really glad my bus riding days are long since over.

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