Monday, April 26, 2004

Chapter 27: The tale of how I met my wife.

It never seems to fail. Once I get talking to someone for awhile, they always ask the same question.
“So, how long have you and your wife been together?”
To which I reply casually, “oh about 20 years now”
This is usually met with a stunned pause, a few blinks and disbelief.
“No way, you’re like what… 30? 35? What did you do meet in Jr. High?!”
“33 actually and no we met when I was a freshman in high school”

That is right dear readers. I met her when I was a nerdy young freshman, while riding the school bus no less. Ahh, the school bus, or as we used to call it, “The Looser Cruiser”, that dull yellow tool of social order. You remember the rules, stoners sat in the way back cool kids sat middle while the nerds sat in the very front. Your whole social standing was determined by how far back from the driver you sat. Oh and if you got to sit in that extra narrow seat, WAY in the back, you know the one I’m talking about, then you were the most bad ass of them all.

Me? Being the drama nerd that I was, I sat somewhere between the exchange students and the kid who wore the helmet.

One day as I sat on the bus, reading the graffiti on the back of the seat and wondering what halfway house the driver escaped from, she climbed up the bus’s stairs.

Sure I could say something about how the clouds opened up and a singe ray of golden sunlight poured down on her and how a chorus of angels began to sing…or how my jeans became suddenly very tight in the crotch. Simply put, she was amazing. Brilliant, talented and oh my god so beautiful the kind of girl that yearbooks name “most talented” or “Most likely to succeed”. I had seen her before. She was involved in everything, music mostly but she also did honors this and advanced placement that. Rumor had it that she was hand picked to play pro for the symphony next year.

Along with the usual school books and bags, she also lugged her cello. Now for those of you who don’t know it, a cello case is roughly the same size as a small person. Not exactly something that will fit neatly into the overhead compartment or under a seat. Unable to share a seat, she scanned the bus for an open spot for her and her large burden.

As destiny would have it, the seat in front of me was vacant.

Too awe struck to speak; I just sat there and admired her. For a girl so talented and so with it, she gave off an air of sweetness. Un-phased by the trends of the day, she had her own style. Part geek, part art chick yet all the time very centered and very real. As her stop came I managed an awkward “bye”, to which she smiled the kind of smile so warm you wish that you could bask in it like a cat on a summer day. I was smitten.

But how was I, a lowly freshman, ever going to have a chance with such a girl? I needed a plan.

I knew that she only rode the bus home from school, never to school. I knew that she had to take her cello home when ever she did ride the bus. I knew that due to the instrument’s size, she could not share a seat with anyone and had to sit in an open spot. And so I hatched my plan.

Everyday after the final bell rung, I raced down to the busses carry out my plan. Like a grand chess master laying out his pieces, I found the sweet spot. That seat not too far from the front yet always guaranteed to have an open seat in front or behind me. She would have to sit next to me again.

I did this for an entire school year.

It did not always work, some days she stayed late, other days she would find a different spot. But when it did work, oh my, what a great bus ride that was. We started with small talk, compared notes about the play we were both in (her in the orchestra and me in the chorus line), Monty Python, Mtv and so on. Eventually I did not have to dash to find the sweet spot. If she beat me to the bus, I would find her in our usual spot smiling and waiting for me.

It took me another year to build up the courage to ask her on a date, but that is another story.

After nearly 20 years her smile still makes me weak.