Woman In White.

All kinds of people ride the bus I thought as she got on. She wore a solid white long-sleeve ankle-length dress and leopard-print shoes. When she sat down I could see she was wearing aqua-colored jeans, and she carried three purses: one gold, one silver, and one fuschia, which matched the frames of her sunglasses. Her hair was blonde, almost white, and in shiny curls.
What’s your story? I wanted to ask. Not just her, really–like I said, all kinds of people ride the bus, and I really would like to know everyone’s story, but I’m too shy to ask and I also worry it would be intrusive and rude to go around to people and ask them to tell me about themselves. I want to know people’s stories but I don’t want to make anyone feel pressured or uncomfortable. It’s why I have a problem with tabloids and celebrity gossip. People who are in the “public eye” still have a right to privacy. Once when I was a kid I rode along in the backseat while my parents took a visiting family member on a tour of Nashville. We went by Johnny Cash’s house which was surrounded by a high fence. The fence, my parents explained, was put up after a reporter hid in the bushes one night and saw Cash walking around his home naked. That’s probably far from the craziest thing that ever happened at Johnny Cash’s house, but why the reporter felt compelled to share it or, for that matter, to hide out in Cash’s bushes in the first place, is still beyond me.
Anyway there was something about this woman, from her shoes to her sunglasses, that seemed to invite conversation–as though she had a story she wanted to share. This is Nashville, and even though the recording industry has spread out, even though Music Row is now listed as one of America’s most endangered landmarks, there’s a reason it’s still known as Music City–people still come here to record albums, or just hoping to be discovered. I know someone who decided to go to a local karaoke bar on a whim and regretted it, saying, “I was the only one who wasn’t there for my career.”
Maybe I was assuming too much, though. It’s not fair to judge a person by how they dress, and I’ve since seen two other women carrying multiple purses which makes me wonder if it’s a new fashion trend and also just how much stuff they could possibly be carrying, but that’s another story.
Several blocks later she got off the bus without saying a word to the driver. At the next stop a guy got on and took her seat. He was wearing jeans, sneakers, a dark button-down shirt. From our clothes alone, I thought, we could be twins, except he was tall and bald. And I sat there wondering, what’s this cat’s story?

8 Comments

  1. grace

    I think it’s great that you want to know, yet also respect privacy. I don’t know that it is ever a bad thing to acknowledge people though, if you are really curious start with a hello? 😛

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      A hello sounds like a good idea, and I’ve thought about starting conversations that way, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m some kind of creep–and I have a feeling women on the bus have to deal with creeps all too often.

      Reply
  2. Tom

    If only people would wear a button with their blog address on it, then you could find out all about ’em without asking!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’ve thought several times about having some business cards with my own blog address printed on it to give out to people. That way they could contact me if they want to share their story. And funny enough just yesterday someone I was talking to mentioned in passing that they had a blog but didn’t mention the name of it so I had to ask. I think if someone’s got a blog they should promote it.

      Reply
  3. mydangblog

    I love how observant you are—except it raises more questions than answers! I always wonder about people’s stories too—makes for great stories 😊
    mydangblog recently posted…My Week 246: Buttons and BonesMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I think you must be very observant too–it’s just in the nature of being a writer to notice things so we can imaginatively recreate them later. One of my favorite lines is from Steve Allen who said, “A comedian is not someone to whom funny things happen but rather someone who sees the world in a funny way.”

      Reply
  4. Ann Koplow

    As a therapist, Chris, I get to hear lots of people’s stories. If you lived around Boston, maybe you could join my Coping and Healing groups and hear lots of cats’ stories. Of course, you would have to keep them to yourself. As always, thanks for sharing your stories here.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      In spite of my penchant for telling stories I’m very respectful of other peoples’ confidences. A coworker once got annoyed with me and said, “You never know any office gossip!” What she didn’t realize is that I knew quite a bit but I wasn’t going to share anyone’s secrets. Although if someone wants to share their story I’m happy to pass it on.

      Reply

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