I used to catch the 7:10 bus. There was no need to get this obscenely early bus to school when we only lived one suburb and train ride away but it was a habit I got in to early and one that stayed for the entirety of high school.
The bus driver’s name was Les but every one called him Harry, as in Harry Butler. In the Wild. Of course you never said this to his face, that would cause such instant rage in him that he’d kick you off the bus. And possibly give you a shove with his boot, just to help you down the stairs.
There was three of us who religiously caught that bus. Me, Alexis and the younger of the two Buddy brothers. You can totally see where this is heading can’t you. Alexis went to the same school as me but was a couple of years ahead of me. She was a complete brainiac who was quite the left wing feminist. She was scary and funny and while she lived just a few blocks away, when she finished school we never saw each other again. Just like that.
Buddy Brother the Younger was my high school crush. Yep. Just him. The whole time. He lived even closer to me than Alexis – probably about six houses down the street so we got on at the same stop. It took four years to work through the stages of secret glances, to staring longingly at the back of his head to smiling at each other to, breathe, saying hello.
He had blonde hair and every Friday wore his Army Cadets uniform. He was also in the pipe band so you could, on weekends, hear bagpipes drifting on the air down the street.
For reasons I do not know one day we said hi AT THE BUS STOP (as opposed to once on the bus) and then, THEN, sat in seats next to each other and SPOKE.TO.EACH.OTHER., not just on the bus but onto the station AND onto the train.
OH my stomach was in knots and all a flutter all at the same time. I walked from the station down to school with a big goofy grin on my face. He spoke to me! We laughed! He likes me.
And then I went to the bathroom. As I washed my hands I looked up into the mirror, goofy smiling all the way.
And there it was.
A white ring of Amway Glister toothpaste around my mouth. The whole way. Some sort of perverse albino minstrel act. My reaction was one you can only expect from a 15 year old girl, vomit and tears.
I never really spoke to him again, not like that day.
Damn you Amway, damn you to hell.