Her Chinese friend boards. Far more rounded face, mouth recessed. This is better. She smiles at the other and makes straight for the seat. She is directly in front of me. Black braided ponytail flaps over seat, inches from me. My face catches the breeze. Curiously I smell nothing, not even a light oiliness. Middle-aged, still retains some youth. Soft face fighting wrinkles, mostly winning except high on the neck. I know this problem. Some freckling. Some weariness. Average body. Could be good. Friendly, slightly addled maybe. Spoke to this woman for the first time last Friday (it is Monday now); a rainy morning. Rain starts conversations. Place was a bus station shelter; both of us waiting on transfer ride. “You ride your bike?” Not in the cold rain, I say. Summer rain, yes. She works where I do, she confirms. Enthusiasm seems overshadowed by preoccupation; or maybe a communication gap. She struggles with English. I struggle to hear. I nod as if understanding. I don’t. Don’t know if there’s a vibe. She spoke to me first, so maybe there is. Don’t care much, I guess.
Older red-headed lady boards; always sits near front in perpendicular row of seats. Catty-corner to me today; affords nice view of her. Tallish, lanky. Bony. Not old, per se; a hint of Desperate Housewives in her. Always provocative shoes with her. She likes shoes, I know; remarked last week on the leopard print pattern on the ancient woman’s shoes. She liked them. So did I. The ancient woman did not ride today; very erratic appearances by her. Too bad, I like her, smeared lipstick, greasy face and all. Could be her gigolo if she had the cash. So the redhead’s shoes today are pointed black boots; very hot. Really tiny points, long tapering. Red hair, darkish, slightly unruly, matted with spray; hardish. Business-like bearing. Black skirt. Dark red nail polish. Thin, lovely fingers. Not long, not wrinkled, soft. Hand model hands. Face thin, nose thin, lips average atop slightly jutting chin. Blue eyes; blue eyes and red hair. Unusual, fascinating. Balding a bit at the parted hair, white scalp drowns out the lingering strands. Betrays age. She reads through delicate frames; blueish-tinted frames, complements her eyes. Jowlish on neck, though. Could lose this; probably unable. Can’t be helped.
Would I? With her? Probably.
Men in back, the usual group, talking loudly. Well, just one—the opinion leader. Thinnish man with golden wire specks, light voice projects well. 60, 50; he counts down the likely trajectory of oil barrel cost. AIG, rated triple A, he exclaims, who saw that coming? He wonders. Manly talk. Very important.
Much blowing of noses today. Curiously, I haven’t this problem.
Last stop before the expressway. The big boned tall brunette. The one with the baggy tired eyes she tries to cement over with makeup. Hands and face made of Styrofoam. Odd complexion, texture. Not appealing. But her sadness draws me. Hair brownish with red hints, medium length. Smart enough, doted over, but accidental enough to appeal. Pudginess hinted all over, but mostly in hands and face. Solidly built lady, not overweight though. Face canine somehow, St. Bernardish, There’s a jowl but it’s solid, not turkeyish. Seems natural with her face, somehow. Not unattractive, this lady, but something transvestite-like about her. Mannish; the beefy jaws and hands emphasize… Much eyeliner on brow to emphasize femininity. Everything on the face slightly mannish somehow, yet unmistakably feminine. I wonder if she knows? Smartly dressed. Turtleneck sweater top, black. Pearlish necklace (more than one?) A lapel pin or delicate broach, perhaps, affixed over breastplate. Can’t tell, obscured by pearls. Large ring on left hand, a blueish stone in a hefty gold mount. She clasps a tissue in those stubby, mannish Styrofoam hands. She sits next to the redhead. They do not speak; they are not friends. Both business-like ladies. Both weary. I feel for them. I want to let them know it’s OK. Maybe they know better.
She rests her left arm on a smart little black purse. Can I see a gator-skin texture on it? Not sure. The handle rests down on her hard light tan skirt. The skirt stops above large knees. Her knees out, and below the bend a tantalizing few inches of a muscular, tannish lower leg. They rise out of high black boots. Stiletto-type heels, pointed toes. All of this very intoxicating. Could stare at this for the whole trip, and longer.
She grasps a metal rail with her right hand while the other rests on the purse. She crosses her legs. Too much. Skirt hikes up on beefy hard thigh. She knows, yanks it down a bit. She thinks, stares at nothing but her thoughts. Looks up, then down. Seems dissatisfied. Her mouth seems lazy, lips pursed. Have never seen her smile, I realize. I feel for her.
I vacillate on her. Would I? Probably.
I now think of a Venus-like quality to her face; stalwart, like something on a coin or bill, or Brigitte Helm. But looser, flabbier. That Styrofoam quality undoes it. She rouges over it, slightly too much.