Vogel: Magic bus? Not for this cantankerous rider
Grumpy after a night battling insomnia, my only desire was to catch a 10-minute catnap on the M86 crosstown bus.
"Welcome to the party bus!" the driver bellowed on the microphone before I even found a seat. "Anyone want to drive?"
As the other passengers roared with laughter, I wondered if I was in a post-Ambien hallucination.
"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 overeager geek beside me. "Alan!" he beamed, vigorously shaking my hand.
I quickly turned away from him and saw about 20 people waiting at the next stop. "Welcome to the party bus!" repeated the driver. "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. "OK, who's having a birthday today?"
"My birthday's tomorrow!" Which happy child called this out? My 30-something seatmate, Alan, that's who.
"Great -- let's all sing 'Happy Birthday' to Alan!"
All the passengers (except one; guess who?) did, as Alan grinned and blushed. What fun!
"OK!" roared the driver. "Ready for a riddle?"
"Yes!" roared everyone else. Was I the only real 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! If I jump out the window as we cross Central Park, maybe I could land in the soft grass and roll.
As passengers left, they thanked the driver for being so fun. I never thought I fit in particularly well with other humans, and this trip 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.
Don't worry. Be happy. Don't be a party pooper, and go with the flow. Perhaps I should give it a try?
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.