Bus Dwivah! Chapter Nine - My Savage Darlings

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Day of celebration on Bus #30

Submitted: October 13, 2008

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Submitted: October 13, 2008

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My Savage Darlings

 

I don’t know where spring began in your neck of the woods, but today marked the official end of winter on Bus Dwivah’s route. I should tell my boss to deduct today’s pay from my check, because it’s criminal to accept further compensation for a day so rewarding. (I won’t, of course, I’m grateful, not crazy.)

 

The spring sun peeked like a ripe yellow lemon over Bruster’s Hill as Bus #30 made the curve and sped along the immaculate white-painted fence that edges the lush pastures of the horse farm, where the paints and the Arabians graze fetlock-deep in tender spring grasses. I hadn’t seen the new filly yet, and like any prima donna she made a fine bit of theater out of her entrance. A horsewoman would call her a grey, although she’s white. (Old joke: Question: What color was George Washington’s white horse? Answer: Grey.)

 

The Arabian filly rose out of the dawn mists by the creek and cantered up the hill into the sunlight, her white hide gleaming like mother-of-pearl, her grey mane and tail rippling in the breeze she made. At the top of the hill, she paused a moment, backlit by the rising sun, her delicate dark nostrils flaring as she drank in the morning. She lacked only a sparkling spiraled horn between her wide-set eyes to convince me of the truth of unicorns.

 

All along my route, new calves or colts were rollicking about the fields, kicking up their heels and racing the bus. The farmer on Wetson’s Road keeps sheep and spring lambs pogo-ed around the field as though they were relatives of Tigger (their tops are made out of rubber, their bottoms are made out of springs).  I laughed like a loon to see the first offspring of the Oreo cows (see ‘Belted Galloways’ on line, they’re black on the front and back, with a broad white band in the middle) and the Hereford bull (russet brown with white markings). The calf tugging at the udder of the Oreo cow was a Whoopie Pie (brown on the front and back, with its mother’s trademark white band in the middle).

 

The bus celebration began at the second stop, where I pick up the Spanish kids, frankly my favorites. They are a passionate, beautiful, quarrelsome bunch who smell like cinnamon and fried corn, and all six of them go at life with zest. They are not all siblings; their two divorced mothers, sisters themselves, rented a duplex, and in the morning, the harried mothers stand in the doorway handing out lunch money and sweaters while the children burst into their day like kernels of just-popping corn. I have struggled all winter to convince these kids to use caution when crossing the road to the bus, with varying degrees of success. Endless lectures have been directed at them about the necessity of checking traffic both ways before crossing.

 

Today, in order of age and size, by design or accident, they stepped down off the porch and one by one, stopped and scanned both directions for oncoming cars. As they came up the bus steps, I cheered them, bouncing in my seat and pumping my fists in the air, and they laughed and dispersed to their seats.

 

The youngest, tiny exquisite Elena said to her sister, “Hey, Juanie! She didn’t have to yell at any of us today!” She started singing, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands [clap clap]…” Her sister and then a cousin and then the rest of the bus joined in and the party was on.

 

It was a Monday, and as newcomers slouched wearily and Monday-morning-bluesishly up the steps, they were met with the rowdy sound of music and clapping hands. By the time each child reached the designated seat, he or she was singing along.

 

When we reached the stop where Papa Loogie puts his five charges on the bus, some of them his grandchildren, some not, the bus was almost literally rocking as the little savages stomped their feet or clapped their hands where called for in the lyrics.

 

Papa Loogie’s eyes widened and he looked in the bus windows to see the children clapping their hands over their heads, stomping their feet on the floor, and singing, and he put his hands on his hips, threw back his head and laughed. I laughed back at him, and he put his tanned hand to the bill of his cap in a smiling salute and I drove on.

 

One of the children on our bus moved last weekend, and since we no longer have to make the detour down

Schattner Road

, our route is five minutes shorter. For the first time in my bus-driving career, we were first to arrive at the school, #1 Honcho Bus in the Conga Line. Somebody yelled, “HEY! We’re FIRST!”

 

Little Connor Bains (here’s my numbah, call me, we’ll go to McDonald’s) sang out, “If you’re happy and you know it, yell BUS DWIVAH!” The rest joined in quickly, and my morning’s work ended with six dozen savage darlings singing, “If you’re happy and you know it, yell BUS DWIVAH!”

 

The most glowing job performance review I’ve ever received.

 

They piled off the bus, and one of the last was Justin (I’ll just stay here then, I don’t trust myself). I called his name, and he turned, his shoulders slumping like an about-to-be-chastised puppy.

 

“I just wanted to tell you I’m proud of you. I haven’t had to yell at you for a week!” I told him.

 

He stared for a moment as though he was struggling to process my meaning, and then his face split in an ear-to-ear grin, and he said, “If you knew how long I’ve been waiting to hear that!” and bounded off the bus.

 

Happy Spring.

 

Bus Dwivah


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