Thursday, August 23, 2007

Beautiful Stranger

"I looked into your face / My heart was dancing all over the place"

A recent article in National Geographic states, "Redheads are becoming rarer and could be extinct in 100 years." It would be a sad day if so-called gingers ever disappeared from this world.

During the summer when I was 17, I was obsessed with redheads, for no reason other than my summer obsessions generally have themes. The summer when I was 20, for example, was themed "Lifeguards from Central New Jersey". Not that I dated any redheads during Ginger Summer, but I did watch a bunch of Eric Stoltz movies. Too bad he tended to make movies like Mask. Eric was not so much with the yummy in that one.

I also had a GIANT crush on Mr. Busman, a redheaded cutieboy who was a fellow passenger on the #3 bus to downtown Baltimore. Sure, I was riding the bus to get to my terminally boring data-entry job, but every morning was a good one if Mr. Busman was on the #3. I never did find out his name, nor did I ever get the courage to actually talk to him, but oh was I smitten. I was in deep smit.

Mr. Busman could easily get lost in a Glasgow crowd. He had an honest face with a freckled puggish nose, hands that looked like they were made for farming potatoes, broad shoulders that defined a strong back. He must have been just about 6 feet tall, but nearly everyone is 6 feet tall from where I stand in Lilliput. And then there was his thick, wavy hair. It was the color of wildfire.

Every morning at 7:23, Mr. Busman boarded the #3 at the intersection of Loch Raven Blvd. and Cold Spring Lane. He must have had some sort of desk job, because he was always dressed in a crisp white shirt and smart tie, dark slacks, and sensible black shoes that looked like they had kicked a lot of shit. I was tickled that he always wore multicolored argyle socks.

One morning, the bus was packed and Mr. Busman and I ended up standing in the center aisle. He was standing right in front of me and the smell of Ivory soap and sunshine wafting from his direction was intoxicating. (Yikes! What a creepy little bugger I was, inhaling some stranger's shower-fresh scent.) The bus lurched forward suddenly and I crashed into Mr. Busman's yummily-scented personal space.

He turned around just in time to catch me before I fell to the floor. I came face-to-face with him as he held me by the shoulders and made sure I was standing upright. My knees did feel a bit weak... His eyes were a dark jade green, flecked with gold at the edges. He had full lips. And they were moving.

"Are you all right?" he apparently asked, brow furrowed with concern. I nodded mutely, meekly, so-not-Cookie-ly. Yes, I am all right, except for the part where I DIED A LITTLE BIT BECAUSE YOU WERE TOUCHING ME. Best. Monday. Ever.

For the rest of the summer, he would nod and smile in my direction whenever he got on the bus. I don't know where he is now, but I hope he and his Nobel-peace-prize-winning rocket scientist supermodel girlfriend are ecstatically happy.

The last bit of that National Geographic article begins, "If the gingers really want to save themselves they should move to Scotland." Brilliant idea! I will be in the U-Haul right behind them.
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