It was 80 degrees even well after midnight as I drove in to the city. Above my head, the stars were twirling madly, or anyway that’s how they looked to me: like gymnasts tumbling and climbing, then stopping to land Ta-DA! with their little arms thrown high.
But if the stars were happy, then so was I. I was more than happy in fact to be meeting the 1:00am bus that would bring our youngest briefly back to us from his little apartment above a dry cleaners well north of Central Park.
This trip in to the bus station takes about 15 minutes without traffic and at this late hour I was expecting it to be as quick – until two miles down the highway, I rounded the bend and saw the brake lights of 100 cars. Cars as far as I could see, stopped dead in their lanes.
Sometimes you don’t actually MIND being stopped if you enjoy looking at people. Now, for me, here were dozens of people all at close range.
Cell phones began lighting up like glow-worms as people called to communicate the delay. Then car windows went down, letting out laughter and strains of music.
Arms holding soft drink cans emerged.
Cigarettes dangled at the ends of fingers.
When I saw many bare legs begin appearing from car windows I realized I was among mainly young people. Of course! Who else is out and wide awake at almost 1:00 in the morning?
And then I heard The Voice.
“H-e-e-e-y” came the insinuating sound from a round male face in the back seat of a car full of young people.
“Hey, let’s go get drinks!” it said in my direction.
I acted like I couldn’t see the young guy addressing me, his head like a toy balloon bobbling alongside us all in our barely moving cars.
“Come on, Cupcake! Time to Par-TEE!” he said three minutes later. Good Lord, I thought to myself, eyes ahead on the still-stopped traffic.
“I have sexy mu-u-u-u-u-scles!” he yodeled, five minutes after that. Still, I stared straight ahead.
It went on like this for 15 minutes as the cars inched forward.
Then suddenly with my lane some 50 feet ahead of Bobblehead’s, he got out of his car and starting walking toward mine.
“Let’s end this,” I thought, when he was about 20 feet away from me.
I turned to look him full in the face and smiled with what a kind of rueful, what-are-we-going-to-do-with-you-Son smile.
“She looked at me!” he yelled back to his companions. “She looked at me!”
Then to me he said, “Is your name Mary? We think your name is Mary.”a
“My name is Terry,” I said and I could tell by a slight hiccup in his voice that he had by then gotten just close enough to me to see that I was out of his age range. Way WAY out of his age range.
‘Oh! Well, hi, Terry,” he said, and then meek as a schoolboy, turned, walked away and got back in his car.
There was a lesson for us all in this I know but I’m not sure yet what it is. The stars saw it all though, so maybe they know; and not for the first time I wished those distant old fireflies could talk, and explain to us all that they have seen.
Now a quiz. My round-faced friend didn’t look much like this guy but who IS this guy anyway? Great year for movies when this was made!