My bus was super crowded this morning, and I was squeezed in the center aisle, standing all the way downtown. So much for reading on my way to work. I didn’t even have room to maneuver my bag and get my headphones out so I could listen too some music.
Good thing. Left my ears open for some conversation:
“I have always been someone who knows what they want,” asserted forcefully by a beautiful girl who was maybe 17. “I always say what I want. I’m not confused. I’m complex.”
“Listen,” from a stern-voiced woman to her 9- or 10-year-old son, “you want me to change colors right now?* No? Then sit still and keep quiet.”
“Driver, you were supposed to tell me when we got to Flatbush.
“You were supposed to tell me. I asked when I got on.”
“I will tell you.”
“We haven’t gotten there yet.”
“Thank you, driver. I still need you to tell me when we get to Flatbush.”
And then the best of all:
Seated near me was a little girl who was focused quite intently on a book. She was tracing across the page with her index finger, going over each page at least twice before moving to the next. I couldn’t see what she was reading because it was down in her lap. She was maybe six years old, so I was pretty sure she wasn’t working through War and Peace, but I was curious.
Then her mom leaned over and asked her to read aloud. “I like hearing how nicely you read,” she said. (And yes, how much do I love her for saying that?)
The little girl smiled and squinched up her face, concentrating. She turned the pages back to the beginning and started reading. I couldn’t hear her at first, but after a few lines, she felt more comfortable. She lifted her chin and read out, not loud but strong. And then I heard it, knew what she was reading.
“How I wish we had something to do.”
I’d know that line anywhere: The Cat in the Hat!
“Too wet to go out, and too cold to play ball,
So we sat in the house. We did nothing at all.”
I edged a little closer so I could listen in. The little girl was wearing a Jayne hat** with an adorable, extra large and puffy pom-pom. Her skin was such a beautiful deep, dark brown. Her voice was quiet, happy. Her face was serious as she focused on the words. She sat up straight, but her mom leaned in a little closer, almost snuggling against her shoulder.
I will admit, I’m only a lukewarm fan of the Cat. I find him a bit creepy. More than a bit. (He shouldn’t be trusted, not one little bit.) And he triggers that thing I tried to describe yesterday. The Cat is all about things that are just not right. Too much Cat and I think my head might explode!
“No, no! Make that cat go away!
Tell that cat in the hat you do not want to play!
He should not be here! He should not be about!
He should not be here when your mother is out!”
Hmph. Tell me that’s not right. Don’t get me started on Thing 1 and Thing 2.
But my mistrust of the cat notwithstanding, I was utterly charmed by my bus ride reader. And equally by her mother’s clear pleasure in listening to her baby display her new skill. An excellent way to get my morning off and running.
Eavesdrop on the rest of today’s slices at Two Writing Teachers!
(“I saw her — your mother — your mother is here!”)
* I’ve never heard getting angry described in this way. I kind of like it. And I have to admit that, when I heard her say it, I really wanted to see her change colors. That would have kept things lively on our commute!
** Oh, that. You know, a Jayne hat. That was a Firefly reference. The hat, as knit for and worn by Jayne:
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