Thursday night: the 9:45 bus home from the fair. It’s a party and it’s standing room only. Coveted midway prizes– giant stuffed bees and Rastafarian bananas the size of small children– spill over onto neighboring laps. We’re all squished up next to each other, knee to knee, shoulder to shoulder, but nobody minds, it’s all part of the giddiness of the night. Swabs of cotton candy, the last hopeful slurps of sweet lemonade are held tightly between sticky fingers. In the back row, a Mom wearing a hot pink Nike hoodie, hot pink Nike hat. Long burgundy shimmer nails. Younger lady (Sister? Cousin, neighbor?) sits next to her, infant son in her lap. Under a year old, fuzzy hair, eyes too close together. So cute. “Let me hold him,” you think. Hot pink momma gives him sips of water from a plastic cup. Puts her finger over the end of the straw to hold the water in, drops the water in his mouth. Each time, she puts the straw back in the cup, he puckers for more. Suck, pucker,”Aaaagh!” he yells. More!
Suddenly, the bus swerves– tires thump on the threaded shoulder of the highway. “Yo, man, stay on the road!” someone yells. The rest of us giggle–no one is really frightened; we’re on another ride at the fair. The tires thump thump again. “Stay on the road, man! Slow down!” Loud laughter. Suddenly a woman’s computerized voice comes over the loudspeaker: “No profanity allowed on the bus. No profanity allowed on the bus.” Now everyone is laughing—the tired old man, the little girls who are up too late on a school night, the church lady. The driver, too, he’s laughing. Back on the highway, we slip through the darkness, the empty road smooth sailing at this hour. Someone starts to sing the anaconda song-
My anaconda don’t, my anaconda don’t
My anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hun
It’s like we’re on the bus to camp. Everyone who knows the words joins in
Baby got back!
The driver, our ringmaster, looks in the mirror, pushes a button. The computer voice comes back on: “No loud music allowed on the bus. No loud music allowed on the bus.” Everyone keels over, laughing, bellies full.