In 1992, the morning rush hour commute from my stop in Brooklyn, to Mid-Town Manhattan took an average of an hour and a half. On our bus, we worked as a team, to make sure that we sat together and amused each other on the way to our jobs.
At the last stop in Brooklyn, before we got onto the Prospect Expressway, we stopped a the 'check point,' where all the other busses came in. Lots of passengers would transfer onto our bus, if we had available seats.
One of my 'bus buddies' noticed a behavioral pattern between two people and pointed it out to the rest of us. The man would get off the Mill Basin bus, and wait for the woman to get off a bus that came in from the Canarsie line. On the sidewalk, waiting to get onto our bus, they pretended to not know each other. When they sat down at the seats right across from us, they got very cozy.
He was a greying, rather overweight man, with a mean face. His mis-placed ego was as large as he was. Judging from his ultra-trendy clothes, he was obviously going through a serious mid-life crisis.
She was slender and much younger, with beautiful long, dark hair. She never spoke much, but when she did, it was in the form of 'baby talk.' That's what we named her, 'Little Miss Baby Talk.'
She always brought coffee and Danish from 'Dunkin' Donuts, for the both of them. He provided the New York Times. During their breakfast, he did all the talking. She hung onto every word, clapping her hands at everything he said, like a little baby girl.
He spoke very loud, as he went on and on about himself. He bragged about his impressive career and his impressive life. Everyone listened, whether we wanted to or not. When he showed her photographs from his family vacations, we craned our necks to see them. We wanted to know if his wife was in any of them, and what she looked like. She was in most of them. Somehow, they managed to gloss over the fact that she existed.
Once breakfast was over, and we were well into a traffic jam inside the Battery Tunnel for the next 45 minutes, things would get even more interesting.
They would take the New York Times, and build a sort of 'tent' to hide from the rest of us. Under their tent, they would make out all the way through the Battery Park and Wall Street areas. By the time we weaved around and along the FDR, going north to Mid-Town, passing the Brooklyn Bridge, he would re-appear. She, however, would be mysteriously missing!
We looked around at her empty seat and asked each other where she went. Finally, we decided that perhaps they had a basement in their little 'love nest,' and that's where she would go, unless she crawled through the floor and left the bus. Our group was amazed at his talent in making her 'disappear,' and so, we named him, 'The Magician.'
One day, 'Miss Baby Talk' was in the basement, and the 'Magician' was engrossed in the news article that he was pretending to read. An old woman had just stepped onto the bus and payed her fare. She was delighted to see what she thought was an empty seat, and she hurried down the aisle to claim it. She sat down for a second, and sprang to her feet, very confused.
'Miss Baby Talk' suddenly popped her head out of the newspapers and sat on the seat. The 'Magician' was annoyed that the disappearing act was abruptly interrupted. The rest of us clapped our hands and cheered at the performance, yelling, "One plus one equals two, after all!"
At 'check point,' from then on, we saw them meeting to get onto a bus together. They never bothered to ride our bus, ever again.