BUS DWIVAH! Chapter Ten ...The Coronation

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Another story of driving an elementary school bus.

Submitted: October 10, 2008

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Submitted: October 10, 2008

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The Coronation

 

For nearly a week, I had been trying to recover from the depredations of a combination of pneumonia, strep throat and a sinus infection. I missed two days driving, but over the weekend improved enough that I felt ready to tackle the route again on Monday morning.

 

My savage darlings had become accustomed to my fey and light-hearted rule as Bus Dwivah, and were taken aback by the pale and quiet woman who picked them up on Monday morning and wearily dropped them off on Monday evening. The general atmosphere was subdued, as though there had been a small death in the family – the gerbil, maybe. No tears, but a pervasive somberness.

 

The kindergartners tried on the noon run. Elena called, “Hey, Bus Dwivah! Knock, knock.”

 

“Who’s there?” I asked absently, flicking on the directional signal to make the turn onto

Whoopeeville Lane

.

 

“Pickle!” (When small children discover the “Knock, knock” convention, they don’t actually get why knock, knock jokes are funny. They just know they are. They think that anything following “Knock, knock” will get a laugh – and it will, from their compatriots.) The bus driver will be treated to an endless string of non sequitur punch lines.  “Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “Fence.” “Foot.” “Cow.” The five-year-olds within earshot will be rolling in the aisles. Do you think the funny bone is like the palate, and develops later in life?

 

Normally, I encouraged the joke-teller in my kids, and even though there is no reason why “Knock, knock,” “Who’s there?” answered by “pickle” is funny, I would laugh anyway. I didn’t have the energy today and Elena got only a pallid smile in answer. She settled back in her seat looking puzzled. If “pickle” was hilarious last week, why was it not amusing today?

 

When I glanced in the rearview mirror at the front seats, I caught small heads bent together and heard the tiny mouse like chirps of kindergarten whispers. There were no other signs of insurrection, and I was content to slog through the run, offering only a quiet “See you tomorrow,” as each child descended the bus steps to a waiting parent.

 

On Tuesday, silent little Mairzy, wan and thin as a spirit, stopped by the driver’s seat on her way off the bus. She stood there wordlessly, fixing me with those delft-blue platter eyes. “What is it, Mairzy?” I finally asked.

 

Mairzy’s voice was rusty from little use, and squeaked when she spoke. “You okay, Bus Dwivah?”

 

I managed a reassuring smile. “I was sick, honey. I’m getting better. I’ll be okay.”

 

Mairzy frowned. “Aw. Poor sick Bus Dwivah.” She wafted off the bus like the wraith she was.

 

On Wednesday I was feeling a little better. When I fetched the busload of morning kindergartners at noon, instead of straggling on in ones and twos, they congregated at the foot of the bus steps and sent Elena ahead as their emissary. She climbed the steps awkwardly, holding her hands behind her back and looked at me. “Cwose you eyes.”

 

Cwose my eyes? It was bad enough I had to turn my back. “Why?”

 

“Jus’ cwose you eyes,” she repeated sternly. “Foah a supwise.”

 

I slid the keys out of the ignition and dropped them into my jacket pocket. Me and Reagan. Trust but verify. I closed my eyes. I heard the clank of little sneakered feet climbing the metal bus steps and smelled the signature scent of Eau de Kid – peanut butter, finger-paint and sunshine – all around me. There was a peculiar sensation of being mugged by butterflies. Tiny tugs lifted my shoestrings, my hair. Little fingers pulled at the buttonholes on my jacket, at my watch band, my wedding ring. I heard Elena’s voice, musical with suppressed giggles, saying, “Okay, open you eyes now.”

 

When I obeyed, I saw the dozen eager little faces smiling at me. Elena was holding a dandelion crown, already limp, in her hands. I looked down at myself and saw more dandelions, plucked from the schoolyard, tucked into buttonholes, watchband, shoestrings, wedding ring. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw more threaded through my hair, over my nose under the bridge of my sunglasses.

 

Elena said formally, “We cwown you Queen Bus Dwivah!” and ceremoniously placed the limp dandelion wreath on my head. The kids giggled and clapped. I gave them the first genuine smile they’d had from me in a week and thanked them with what I hoped was royal grace.

 

When they were all safely seated and I was easing the bus down the exit lane from the school, Mairzy, for the second time ever, voluntarily spoke. “Bus Dwivah!”

 

“Mairzy! You talked! What?”

 

“Knock, knock.”

 

“Who’s there?”

 

“Bus Dwivah.”

 

Now, THAT one was funny. We all rolled in the aisles.

 

We are pleased. You are dismissed.

 

 

Queen Bus Dwivah I


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