Merging Buses Ahead


The sexiest of all signs is Merging Buses Ahead. There was such a sign, too, on the Hollywood Freeway. I noticed the sign one night a zillion years ago when my bass player, stoned out of his mind, was driving us to a gig. Looking for a shortcut he suddenly pulled into the bus lane. We whizzed past the mystified people waiting at the bus stop and gunned our way back into the slow lane, saving maybe three seconds. As he was holding at least a quarter ounce, was ripped, had an expired driver’s license and an unpaid traffic ticket or two I thought his act showed unusual verve. Had I known the car was unregistered I would have awarded him even more verve. He always was a lucky bastard, though, and those three seconds seemed important. His luck later ran out when be blew a tire while tripping on acid at the Grand Canyon. Without a spare, he stood staring into the vast and infinite beauty of the canyon. Dusk was falling and the sandstones glowed a brilliant red and the whole universe seemed full of color. A park ranger stopped to help, discovered his DMV rap sheet and cuffed him. A drag, of course, though with all that blotter it seemed at the time rather groovy. Like I said, he was a bass player. Anyway, as we zipped past the people waiting for the bus and muscled our way back onto the freeway I noticed the sign on the left. Merging Buses Ahead. It seemed tremendously funny at the time. It became my sign. Some hippie or lady at work would ask me my sign. I’d say Merging Buses Ahead. It had just the right mixture of randomness and disdain. Made a lot of sense in the punk rock eighties. I’d never explain. They’d usually walk away, or change the subject. I was big and mean looking, wore huge steel toed army boots and had developed quite a glower I’d use when annoyed. If asked my sign and I said Merging Buses Ahead and my wife was there she’d explain.  He thinks that’s funny, she’d say, he’s an Aries. Oh you’re an Aries…no wonder you said Merging Buses Ahead. I don’t know my wife’s sign–after 34 years I still can’t remember but it’s either Gemini, Scorpio, Aquarius or maybe another–but she knew mine. She doesn’t believe in astrology of course, not a whit (she’s into astronomy and the two can’t mix…she doesn’t believe in UFO’s either) but at least she knows the signs. But then I’m an Aries. You can always tell an Aries because we don’t believe in astrology. We’re arrogant and stubborn and skeptical and confrontational. Lively, though. Fun.

Somewhere in middle age telling people I’m a Merging Buses Ahead lost its zing. It doesn’t seem to come up much anyway. Recently, though, someone asked me my birthday. I told her. Then I told her all the cool people that have been born on my birthday. A whole bunch: Spencer Tracy and Gregory Peck and Bette Davis and Lord Buckley and on and on. Her eyes lit up. Then I told her it was a cool death day too and ran off Howard Hughes and Chiang Kai-shek and Douglas MacArthur and Kurt Cobain and Allen Ginsberg and Saul Bellow and Charlton Heston…. She looked appalled. You know who died on your birthday? Well, yeah, famous people die on your birthday and it’s in the news and it’s easy. She gave me a look–it’s the people who are born on your birthday that matter. The dead, well that’s just sick. She walked away. Wow. I’d just been dissed by an astrology freak. I didn’t even think that was possible.

I suppose it was too late to say Merging Buses Ahead..

"Merging Buses Ahead" is funnier.

Merging Buses Ahead is funnier.

My wife’s birthday

October 28 and it’s my wife Fyl’s birthday today. Never mind how many. We’re at that one-candle-will-be-fine age. Otherwise you’ll need a fire marshal on hand when it’s time to blow them out. I asked her where she wanted to eat and it was closed. So was her second choice. I said how about crab’s legs? She loves crab’s legs. As much as the crab did, almost. We thought where, you know someplace fancy? Hip? Gauche? She said keep it simple so we’re off to Cameron’s in Pasadena. And not even the right part of Pasadena, but the part east of Pasadena City College where the Rose Parade passes by in silence and shame, devoid of media coverage, bands blowing clams all over the place and people ripping the roses right out of the still living floats. Ghastly. My brother and his wife lived near there once till the heat drove them out towards Pedro and the fog. They had a living room that tilted. The whole living room off center, like the gravity was stronger on the other side of the couch. I weirded me out. Well it didn’t, but it could have, but that was before Facebook and inanity. Where was I?

Oh yeah, I just wanted to wish my wife a happy birthday and successful conclusion to a profitable birthday month. She sure can make the most of a birthday month. I remember when the birthday month was a birthday week. When we were newlyweds she got just the day, you know, her birth day. Hence the word. But over our three plus decades it’s stretched some. That gravity again.

She’s not on Facebook, actually. So instead of posting this I could just turn to her and say Happy Birthday Phyllis! I will, too. This is just practicing. Don’t wanna blow it again. She’s still pissed off about the Arbor Day thing. A tree is a tree, I figured. I was wrong.

Anyway, it’s been a good birthday month. I sure miss summer, though. Octobers are rough that way. Dark and if not quite brooding certainly chilly. I’ll adjust by November. Christmas comes soon after. I love Christmas.

And I love my wife. So she gets to feast on crab legs in the bar at Camerons. She said 7:30 so I ought to think about getting ready, instead of blathering on and on like this.