We’re back with another Lesson in Romance from our newest XOXO teammate, Florence. This time around we have a french-fry-filled bus “meet cute”!
Complaining about my dating life at work pays off in the most unexpected and delightful ways. While I don’t know that anyone can benefit from my trials and tribulations in the New York City dating world, it couldn’t hurt to divulge what I know about love, which is currently nothing at all. However, I see writing this column as a large opportunity to fix that or at least to stop getting drunk via Skype with my Nana and actually make something of my love life.
The last time I had any sort of date there was snow on the ground, which I realized in horror three weeks ago at South Station Bus Terminal #2. I was waiting for the Greyhound back to New York and a low-level case of the Sunday Scaries was setting in. Unfortunately, my phone was dead, meaning there was no hope of a quick Tinder/Bumble/Coffee-Meets-Bagel download and so I thought I’d have to resign myself to cats, or, since I hate cats, well-made stuffed animals. With no phone to browse I was forced to look around me, at the actual people in the actual world, and that’s when I saw him—ten or so people ahead of me in line stood a shred of hope. He was 6-foot-something, with glasses and a beard, carrying a Kurt Cobain poster. My prediction was: lives in Brooklyn, has been “looking for a job” for the past six months, rolls his own cigarettes. Ideal? No. Perfect? Perhaps.
We get on the bus and it’s starting to fill up. He’s chosen a window seat in the middle, and I’m fast approaching. Though there are still seats in the back, he’s gotten about three times cuter since I last spotted him three minutes ago and since I’m a control freak with a fear of strangers I decide I’m either going to sit with him or the girl in front of him who is clearly making a statement about a woman’s right to choose the length of their armpit hair. Good for her. But since she’s also making a statement about a person’s right to choose deodorant, I take the stink as a sign from above that my fate is waiting for me just behind her.
“Can I sit there?” I ask and Bus Boy is five times cuter than he was when I first spotted him. If he continues at this rate I will be closer than I have ever been to my girlhood dream of marrying someone as sexy as Kevin Costner circa The Bodyguard.
“Of course,” he says. And then the bus leaves and I spend the next hour trying to get up the courage to ask him to use his cell phone charger, which is currently idle in the cup holder. It’s a poor use of resources and I’m in need, but since I’ve already drained my reserves by asking to sit with him, I have to wait another hour for even a trickle of boldness to appear. I resign myself to a book of poems and he puts headphones in, plays his music too loudly, and my heart sinks a bit because I think I recognize a Good Charlotte song. Maybe he’s being ironic, I think to myself. Then, in a weird twist of fate, the bus driver announces we’re making a stop. Understand that I take this bus all time and we never make stops. It’s unusual, exciting, indulgent. Like caged animals we’re released into Burger King, only to stomp back to our seats with our prey: vanilla milkshake, extra large fry.
Except I’m back on the bus before Bus Boy so when he approaches he’s going to have to talk to me. I suck on my milkshake and nervously wait for the top of his head to appear as he ascends the stairs. Not him, not him, definitely not him, spotted. I take a big gulp and stare intensely at a single phrase on the page of the poem titled “On Turning Thirty”: I wish I thought I’d be married by now.
“Sorry, can I get in there?” He says.
“Of course,” I say, then immediately regret it. Should I have just said, “Yes”? How about a slightly passive aggressive “Okay”? Then I remember that this is the reason I haven’t been on a date since there was snow on the ground. Luckily he takes over. Maybe it’s my purple leggings with the neon printed flowers, but he looks over and says,
“Want a French fry?”
“I’ve got some, thanks,” I say, then take a huge handful and stuff them into my mouth as evidence.
“Can I use your phone charger?” I finally blurt.
“I’ve been wanting to ask that for the last two hours,” I say, in a tone that plants the seeds of what will hopefully be many conversations thick with endearing self-deprecation, strange flirtation, honesty, desire, etc.
“No worries,” he says. “So where are you coming from?” And as the bus pulls away from one of a thousand depressing establishments on the road between two fine cities, our romance begins.