A simple man sat next to me on the bus one day and blew in my face.
I was a 19 year old Sophomore attending Brigham Young University. I lived at Rain Tree Apartments which was quite a trek to campus on especially snowy days. So I rode the bus.
I had never ridden a public bus before. I admit I was nervous. The crowd on the morning bus to The Wilkinson Center was nothing I had expected.
How can I politely inform you the bus was littered every morning with retarded older men?
I had nothing against the men. I tried not to stare. They did not offer me the same courtesy. I smiled at the men if they stared too long. Sometimes they would laugh and slap their hands over their mouths. Sometimes I would compliment a super hero lunch box and receive a smile in return. Yet other times my smile was returned with an angry glare and a snarl.
Day after day I rode this bus to school.
I became accustomed to my morning commute and fellow passengers, as we become accustomed to all things at first uncomfortable in this life.
One fine day a creased and ageless blue-eyed man in a grey beanie sat next to me. I never discovered his name but today we shall refer to him as Bob. Bob was a regular.
Bob was one who generally stared and glared when I entered the bus. I felt uneasy around Bob. His eyes were piercing and fixed upon me for the duration on any given day.
Except, of course, for the day Bob puffed up his white whiskered cheeks like Red Riding Hood's big bad wolf.
I entered the bus that fateful morn in a cheerful mood. I sat in my usual spot. Bob stood from his usual seat and made his way to the seat next to mine. Bob sat. I was surprised but smiled kindly.
"Good morning," I said.
Bob turned to me suddenly, his cheeks filled with air. I could not help but turn my face more surely toward his. His mouth was inches from my nose.
How has this happened?!
Without warning Bob puckered his toothless mouth and blew.
Bob blew his putrid eggs for breakfast extra onions refusal to brush teeth for many moons breath directly into my startled face.
WHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, went Bob's breath.
He blew my hair back.
My eyes watered. For many reasons.
"Why did you do that?" I asked once I had gathered my wits.
"Because... I... like... you..." he said in a belabored manner with a thick Utah drawl.
I felt very calm here.
He liked me! He really liked me!
I smiled, "Well. I like you too. But next time you should just TELL me you like me. I don't like it very much when you blow air in my face."
Bob scowled and looked at the floor. Then he growled and pulled his beanie low over his eyes.
Bob never blew hot air in my face again.
Tonight I thought about Bob because I went to a church function.
I always wonder if people (women) at church functions like me.
I'd like to think they do. But some maybe don't.
Women are fragile creatures with fragile egos sometimes. My ego. Their egos. Fragile.
There must needs be a ridiculous invisible pecking order detested but subscribed to by most all of us.
One never really knows where she stands, does she?
Both men and woman can be known for blowing hot air. Insincerity and mistrust are far easier than vulnerability and raw honesty.
So we smile tight lipped smiles, shake hands with without full eye contact and blow hot air.
But it is not the honest, warm blue cheese for lunch flavored breath of friendship air, is it?
I wish it were more often.
I say we become more like Bob in our sincerity.
I say we blow surprise jalapeno hummus breath in the face of an acquaintance teetering on the edge of Good Pal and say,
"I like you."