I Found Love On A MTA Bus…

BusI never saw her get on the bus.  It just rolled on down North Ave on its way to Harford Rd. The fumes irritated my nose and the shoddy suspension made my empty stomach queasy. The bus was packed tight on a Monday morning and I stared out of the window thinking only of how much I hated public transportation; its smells and passengers.

It was 1986; a transition period in my life and I was in the midst of an existential crisis. My mind fluttered back and forth between how and why I was occupying space and time and contemplating my few but significant shortcomings.

The carriage stopped around Greenmount Ave where most of its riders exited.  And as the bus thinned,  its then nearly hollow shell revealed a curious creature. She wore a tight short skirt and off-white boots decorated with paisley – a subtle nod to her favorite artist.

Her hair was tight, lips painted red, makeup neatly, tastefully applied. Her shit was together. The fitted skirt revealed womanly curves though one could easily tell that she was just a girl.  Legs smooth as frog skin.  Her plump, sweet lips clung to a face far too serious for her age and framed by dangling gold hoops.  She looked out-of-place on the MTA bus and nothing about her spoke of Baltimore. I peeped that from the start.

I wish that this was the part of the story where I could offer a tale of love-at-first-sight. One where we looked into each other’s eyes and saw our future. A story of rapid pulses and beating hearts. But I can not. The truth of the matter is that I saw chocolate thighs and she…well, she saw nothing.

I moved closer. Perhaps to get a better look, a whiff of perfume. I didn’t talk to strangers then. Not usually. I had no pick up lines at the ready. Two seats away I sat innocuously; eyes fixed firmly on her paisley ankle boots. My eyes worked their way up from ankle to leg to thigh and hip. And at the risk of sounding crude…noticed that she had a nice ass. A really nice ass.

Now normally, that would be the extent of my mental escapade. I’d admire a pretty girl and entertain a fantasy or two. Shyness was always difficult for me to overcome. But I noticed an “in”…a gateway to introduction. She and I happened to be gripping the same text-book. And I thought, “Surely it can’t get any easier than this.” So I spoke, “Excuse me. Did we have assignments to complete from that book”? Her reply was a cold, “yes.”  There was no look of “oh are we in the same class” or “I’m glad to make a new acquaintance.” “Yes” was all she said and she continued her blank stare out of the aquarium-like window of the MTA bus. I swung, I missed, I felt dejected.

I thought myself a charming fellow but she remained immune to my charms for a while. Yet I remained obdurate in my backdoor approach. Overtime, in class, I earned her trust and friendship. I finally smashed it half-way through the semester.

I still remember the first kiss. The sound of her voice when she first said my name. Walks to the corner store. The first time she used profanity. Me showing her my small slice of Baltimore. Getting off the bus at Lexington Market. Extravagant lunches at Burger King. Late night phone calls when one of us would eventually fall as sleep. Not wanting to be the first to hang up the phone. Painful times.  Fun times. Confusing times. Events and emotions that proved to be the genetic code of love and the foundation of our union.

Me and the girl from the bus played house. We made babies. We were the architects of dreams. But there never was a love-at-first-sight moment. No fantasy tale to tell. No eyes meeting and locking among the throngs of miserable faces on the MTA bus. Love is what you make of it and we chose to make something special.

I tricked MTA girl into loving me. Taught her how to love me, really, as she taught me to love her. 26 Valentine’s Days have come and gone. 26 Valentine’s Days have added 26 strong blocks to our foundation. And now, in retrospect, these 26 Valentine’s Days have given me a newfound appreciation for public transportation.

 

Valentine’s Day: Sun and Moon

My fortune in the wife department runs deep.  I am endowed beyond category.

Like the sun, she is the star that illuminates my solar system.  The star that gives light to the planets and moons that revolve around her.  She warms me.  Keeps me grounded.  Keeps me dreaming.  She is at the center of it all.

I am like the moon, dark and mysterious.  Moody and in need of anchoring lest I float aimlessly without light, searching for gravity and synchronicity.

The star of my galaxy
The star of my solar system

Like the moon, I appear bright on the surface, luminescent without cause.  My sun is the reason I shine.  My sun is the reason I continue to revolve and evolve into something greater than what I was.

While there are billions of suns in the galaxy, my sun shines brightest of them all.  She provides the light by which I see and the warmth by which I am nurtured.

Today is a day that I celebrate my sun, the star of my solar system; the one that shines brightest in the galaxy.

May your sun shine as brightly on this Valentine’s Day.

Can A Brother Get Some Love…On Valentine’s Day

Is there any dispute that Valentine’s day is a holiday for women?  Let’s mark the one year anniversary of Man Up by exploring whether or not room exist for men to be honored on the love holiday.

If it’s a matter of dollars and cents, the scale tilts toward women.  In 2013, men spent twice as much as women on gifts for V-day at a rate of $108 to $53. Flowers and jewelry tend to push up the cost for men while women don’t usually buys those items.  Though in one survey, 14% of women said that they would send flowers to themselves.  Interesting.

Known as a day when lovers express their affection with greetings and gifts, V-day has morphed into something that is less equitable among the sexes and far more commercial in nature.  So much so that spending is in excess of $18 billion annually.

How is it less equitable?  Among those participating in the holiday, 64% men will purchase flowers while only 36% women will do the same.  I mean can a brother get some flowers?  I like flowers.  They are pretty and they smell good.  I like pretty, good smelling things.

Perhaps the issue is that women just don’t know what men want.

I reached out to a few fellas to find out what they would like from their partners and here’s what they said:

“Some good ole fashioned booty with no excuses” (yeah, I promised anonymity and that’s what I got), “time alone to have some adult conversation”, “hot oil massage…maybe a happy ending” (you can’t make this shit up), “chocolate, a couples massage and cap it off with dinner” (my kind of date, maybe I’ll give him a call), “a hand-written note saying how much she appreciates all the things…listing out what I’ve done over the year…cooking my favorite meal…and a quiet night in front of the fire with a glass of Zin” (he doesn’t ask for much, does he?), “cook my favorite meal…and a pedicure” ( I kid you not.  He said that!).

The group conversation took an interesting turn to mani/pedis and  his/her mani/pedis and things got weird from that point on.

My point is that men are ladies too.  We want to be thought of, appreciated, loved, cherished and nurtured too.  And according to the men in my highly scientific study, a mani/pedi just might get the job done.

My wife Angela asked me over the weekend what I wanted for Valentine’s Day.  I was more than a little surprised since I haven’t received a gift since…never.  I was so shocked that I don’t think I even responded.  If I had, I might have said some flowers, or a slate grey narrow tie, or a bottle wine that she personally chose, or an evening of fire, wine and nibbles.  If I could have responded, I might have chosen any one of those things.  The truth is, though, “no excuses, no strings attached, good ole fashioned booty” sounds pretty damn good to me.

So how about it ladies.  Step up and do something nice for your man this Valentine’s day.  The she in him deserves it.