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?