May 14, 2009

Judging a Book By Its Cover

I caught my usual bus the other morning and squeezed my way to the back. As usual most people chose to stand at the front of the bus leaving the back empty. I found a seat, settled in, opened my backpack and pulled out my book.

I read for a few minutes, then looked up, checking out where we were and the new arrivals. As I brought my eyes back to my book they settled on a woman sitting across from me. She was staring at me, and she smiled when she saw me looking at her. Whatever. I grinned back and resumed reading. Another few minutes passed. I looked up again, this time in the direction of the staring woman. But the woman next to her was now staring at me. She smiled. I smiled back -- and continued reading.

A few more minutes passed and you guessed it, I looked up and both women were staring at me. When they saw I was looking at them they turned, looked at each other and smiled. Then they both looked back at me and smiled. I was starting to get a little weirded out. Who is this happy first thing in the morning while riding on a crowded bus? It's not normal. And why were they including me in their little giddy party? I went back to reading.

The androgynous bus voice said my stop was next. I read to the end of a paragraph, tucked a bookmark inside and as I was putting the book back inside my backpack a voice said, "that looks like a really good book." I looked up and the two women were now smiling broadly.

That what this was all about? They had been smiling at my book, not me. I paused, turned the book around to look at the cover again and said, "It is a really good book."

"I'm going to have to get it," said smiling woman number two. "It looks like a really good book. What a great cover."

Considering that the number one bus rule had already been broken (Do not, under any circumstance, make eye contact with anyone on the bus, and if you do, do not, I repeat do not smile), I figured there was no harm in breaking rule number two (Do not, under any circumstances, strike up a conversation with anyone on the bus, especially a stranger).

"It's a series of personal essays and the author used to write for Letterman. She's really funny and there's a lot of truth in what she writes. I should be finished the book in a couple of days. I'll give it to you if you like."

And as I got off the bus I saw her smile.

I should be finished the book in a day or two. I'll carry it around with me for awhile, hoping to see the smiling woman again because a book with a cover like this deserves to be shared.


Dan Johnson said...

I have kind of a weird thing I think when I see certain pictures of dogs and this is one of them. It's a catch phrase I've had with me for years and it probably won't make ANY sense but the dog looks like he's saying, "Oh. Hi Man!" You really had to be there.

Lianne said...

I totally know what you mean and as a person who speaks dog I can tell you that's exactly what he's saying!!!

drollgirl said...

what a cover! and what a story! the whole not-talking-while-on-a-bus rule is usually one i follow. :)