I’d gotten so used to riding the bus to rehearsal on weekday evenings when everything was quiet and sullen; the bus filled with people just trying to get through the week. People who only wanted to get home, make dinner, and go to bed so they could get enough sleep to get up and do it all over again.

I’d come to expect the suffocating weight of resignation and so I was unprepared for the excitement, energy, and dare we say “love” that was in the air Friday night as I traveled home.

It all began with a very special lady named Samantha. I know that was her name because it kept getting repeated by the two guys bantering with her.

I couldn’t tell which guy was interested and which was the wing man until finally one guy said, “So, how are we going to work this? Are we just going to keep running into each other on the bus or are you going to let me buy you a drink?”

Smooth. So smooth in fact that now I began to eavesdrop in earnest. This was exciting stuff. Something Hugh Grant might say, minus the accent.

Had he run into her before? Had he come up with this fabulous line all on his own? Had he just heard it in a movie once and had now found the perfect time to work it into his game?

Clearly their love was contagious as the old, drunk, possibly homeless guy next to me tried to get the attention of the young girl in front of me.

A bit too loudly he says, “Nice coat. Can I ask where you got it?”

The girl seemed unsure of herself. Certainly not as certain of her womanly wiles as Samantha. Or maybe she was simply unsure of how she felt about receiving this particular man’s attentions.

“Salvation army. That’s where I do all my shopping because I’m a student,” she lisped.

“Really? Well that’s a mighty good coat! It looks good on you too,” he yells.

This was rivoting! Two parrelel love stories playing out to either side of me!!

Back to Samantha. What would she say? Where would they go? How could she resist this romantic Hugh?

Samantha laughed and said, “Oh you’re sweet.”

Hugh understood what that meant. He was crestfallen but bravely responded, “Oh you have a boyfriend huh?”

Samantha replied in the affirmative but she clearly didn’t want this banter to end. “Do you shop at Trader Joes? I shop there a lot. Maybe we can run into each other there as well as the bus.”

Oh Samantha, you harlot!

Unfortunately the next stop was Hugh and his buddy’s.

“You have a good night!” the drunk guy next to me yells to Hugh. Slowly Hugh turns and gives him two thumbs up, that celebratory salute of men who while they haven’t won the affections of their lady loves have at least given it the old college try.

This was better than TV, better than the movies, better than theatre. It was happening all around me and I had the center seat!

The drunk guy leans into me and says, “You know with your red coat and that green bag, you look…you look…”

And suddenly I was no longer in the center audience seat but was thrust into the starring role.

“Like Christmas?” I ask tentatively.

“Yes, exactly!” he replies.

I guess I would have felt a little bad had he not even tried.

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