I never forget a face...
As I've mentioned earlier in the blog, I commute into downtown via METRO, Houston's mass transit system. I usually ride out to a regional transit center, and since there are so many routes that head that direction, I am lucky in that I can get on about 5 different bus routes and still get back to my car. Most people are tied into one commuter route, so cannot vary their routine.
Since I'm always hopping on the quickest or least crowded bus, depending on my mood, I rarely pay much attention to the fellow commuters on the corner of Louisiana and Rusk in the evenings. I knew quite a few of the regular commuters on the old 210 route, but after that route shut down, I haven't had the opportunity to get to know others, since I rarely see people twice in a week.
So, it's not too uncommon for someone at the bus stop to be a new face. Nor is it too odd to recognize someone.
However, I did not expect my past to return to haunt me...
I got off work a little late Monday evening, and it was a miserable muggy night. Damp and warmish, all I could think about was getting out of downtown as soon as possible and getting into some AC, just to dehumidify myself. As I'm waiting for any of the buses to appear, I catch a facial profile that's extremely familiar.
She's standing in the line for one of the far north Houston commuter bus routes. She's about my age, which is to say late 30's, wavy-haired brunette, kinda puffy squirrel cheeks, brownish-hazelish eyes and a perky nose. Getting a bit broad in the beam, (who isn't, at this age...) but she's still a looker. And I just KNOW I've seen this woman before.
I catch her glancing at me, as well. Obviously, there's some sort of mutual recognition, but the crowded corner and the etiquette of the bus waiting lines prevent an approach. Damn, I know this woman... where on earth from?
I'm puzzling it out when her bus pulls up. I snatch one last glance, only to catch her doing it too. Then she's on the bus and gone. It might be weeks before I see her again, due to my shifting hours.
It's not until I'm on the bus home that I begin to figure it out. I've ruled out the last 15 years, so she's no one I knew from my days in Dallas. She's not a high school friend, I knew everyone too well for that. Therefore, she fell into the 1987-1990 time zone, and those 3 years had a lot of questionable activities on my part. For some reason, I kept associating that face with a party, so it takes a long, long time to filter through all the alcohol-soaked "heavy metal vomit parties" ( to quote The Breakfast Club) of those years. Hell, just in the summer of 1988 alone there were enough ignunt-ass activities to guarantee me about 3000 years in Purgatory, if I believed in such a thing.
Finally it clicks... Party... Kegger... Nacogdoches... Rugby... DAMN!!! I can't believe I remember this. It was Spring of 1987. I'm well on my way to flunking out of my freshman year at Stephen F. Austin State University, in NacaNowhere, TX. I'm majoring in beer drinking, frat pledging, and playing cards in the dorm hallway at 3 a.m. I'm on the outs with my girlfriend once again, and someone talks me into going over to the kegger being hosted by the SFA Rugby team. They're a pretty hardcore drinking crew, but I'm well up to the challenge.
I remember meeting this girl who was highly amused that I wore a hunting vest with the big pockets for shells and dead birds. Pulling out several limes and a pocketknife from one of the pockets, I explained I was well-prepared for the worst examples of kegger beer, and would she like some lime in her beer to cut the nasssty Busch flavor? She said that she would, and off we went from there.
My memory gets kinda fuzzy after that. I remember getting cheered on as I raced someone in a beer-bong contest. I remember sitting on the porch outside with this girl, talking for a long time, both of us extremely trashed. I remember our faces getting closer and closer together, in the manner of truly fucked-up individuals trying in vain to make their slurs understood. I remember kissing her several times, and wondering how I was gonna chase off my roommate.
Then, of course, I remembered her uploading several pints of beer, lime juice, and semi-digested dining hall evening meal all over my lap.
Ah, yes... THAT woman...
I can't for the life of me remember her name, but I can tell you what she had for dinner that night. When I got back from hosing myself off, she had disappeared, perhaps out of shame, perhaps to stagger off to bed, perhaps to be the guest of honor in the Rugby Team's train del noche.
Well, perhaps it's best if we don't catch up on old times. If I do see her again, I'll probably have to ask if she's a Lumberjack alumnus, but I'll leave it at that. It's better that way, I suppose.