After a night battling insomnia, my only desire was catching a 10 minute catnap on the M86 crosstown bus.
“Welcome to the party bus!” bellowed the bus driver on the microphone before I even found a seat. “Anyone want to drive?”
Excuse me? As the other passengers roared with laughter, I wondered if I was in a post-Ambien stupor. Tired and grumpy, this was the last thing I needed.
“All seated? Great! Now everyone turn to the person on your right, say your name and a cheery hello!”
Get lost. That’s my name.
“Mike,” I grudgingly whispered to the over-eager geek beside me. “Alan!” he beamed, shaking my hand much too vigorously.
I quickly turned away from him and saw about 20 people waiting at the next stop.
“Welcome to the party bus!” repeated the driver, clearly in an altered state. “Now everyone move to the back of the bus– in a conga line!”
And most of them actually did. “One-two-three-kick!” encouraged the daffy driver.
Maybe I should hop off and take a cab. The doors shut. Too late.
“OK, who’s having a birthday today?” the bus driver inquired. “This week? This month? In the next two years?” he continued, as the riders chuckled at his wit.
“My birthday’s tomorrow!” Which happy child was this? My 30-something seatmate Alan, that’s who.
“Great–let’s all sing Happy Birthday to Alan!”
And all the passengers (except one) did, as Alan grinned and blushed. What fun!
“Ok!” roared the driver, continuing the levity. “Ready for a riddle?”
“Yes!” roared everyone else. Was I the only New Yorker on this bus?
“Tom’s mother has three children,” began the driver. Was he even watching the road? “The first one’s name is Penny. The second’s name is Nickel. What’s the third one’s name?”
“Dime!” cried out the yokels.
Nope–it’s Tom! Remember, Tom’s mother?”
Wow, he got us! We were crossing Central Park, and the driver decided it was time for another singalong: The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round…
If I jump out the window now and time it just right, maybe I could land in the soft grass and roll…
“Next stop–Coney Island! No, I’m not serious!”
You think? The next stop was Central Park West. Only two more to go…
As the passengers left the bus, they thanked the driver for being such a fun guy. I never thought I fit in particularly well with other humans, and this trip just reconfirmed it.
A hand reached out to me.
“It was great riding with you,” grinned Alan.
I shook his sweaty hand.
“A pleasure,” I lied, as he merrily waved goodbye and hopped off, no doubt his mom waiting for him with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Don’t worry. Be happy. Don’t be a party pooper, and go with the flow.
Perhaps I should give it a try?