Thursday, May 25, 2006

Awesome Wednesday Part I: Blue Angels and the Bus Stop

After spending over a week working in Virginia, I'm finally back in Annapolis for a while. I really needed a break from things down there, and I think Boss A knew it, so he let me take yesterday and today off and come back to Annapolis to see the Blue Angels flying over the Naval Academy. Every year at Commissioning Week when the Navy people graduate, the Blue Angels come and fly over downtown Annapolis and there's a big show. I had never realized that the Blue Angels are part of the Navy--it was pretty cool to think that the pilots were flying over their alma mater.

So I rode the bus downtown yesterday around noon and walked to the Naval Academy. I had never been on the grounds before. I had to show my ID to get in, and I had no idea where to go so I followed a crowd that was headed toward the river. I sat next to a nice married couple who told me about the tradition and the planes. I had never seen a Blue Angel up close--they had always just looked gray to me before when I had seen them in pictures. But they are blue--surprise!--with yellow lettering. I wanted to get a good picture of one of the planes as it flew by, but they go so daggone fast that the pictures were all blurry. Here are some of the pictures I did get. I eventually gave up taking pictures of the planes and just took some of the pretty boats.

As I was leaving the Naval Academy, I heard two guys behind me remarking how impressive the show was, and I turned around to agree. We started talking, and they invited me to hang out with them for a little bit and get something to eat or drink. They had biked downtown, so I knew they were OK guys, and I agreed. We went to Pusser's Landing, a bar/restaurant at the Mariott. Pusser's was the official brand of rum of the British Navy back in the pre-Revolutionary days--two 'tots' (whatever that is) was issued to every guys every day, or something like that, and more after a victory. Anyway, we sat outside on the patio, which is right on the dock. It's the only restaurant on the city dock where you can sit outside on the dock. Boaters can pull up, dock their boats by the restaurant, and come right in from there like it's a parking lot. I think that's very cool.

Anyway, I finally said goodbye to them and made my way back to the bus stop. The bus comes to the stop on the hour, and it was about 6:20, so I knew I'd be waiting a while for the next bus. Well, I walk down West Street toward the bus stop, and who is standing at the entrance of the Mexican restaurant I go to semi-regularly but the owner Jose? He inquired on whether I was coming in, and I said no--but he insisted that I come in and have a margarita. I halfheartedly agreed, and he brought me the drink and proceeded to sit down across from me. The pinnacle of the conversation's awkwardness was when he said, "Do you think you could go to a movie with me sometime?"--yikes!--and I agreed! Double yikes. I was caught completely off guard--I couldn't help it! This whole time I had been thinking maybe he was going to hook me up with the cute waiter who's always there--foiled again! Anyway, so I agreed to go to dinner and a movie with a fortysomething mustachioed Mexican restauranteur.

But I don't think I'll answer the phone when he calls. Sometimes avoidance is the best solution. If you have a better, more humane idea, tell me, unless it involves me actually going.

After fleeing the scene, I made my way to the bus stop and sat smack dab in the middle of the bench, next to Jay, a young black guy with corn rows and a wedding ring, and an older black man who remained silent the duration of the wait. I asked the young guy if he saw the Blue Angels, and he said he'd seen them from the Maryland Inn, where he works as a cook. He said they just let him go outside and stand there--that's what he always does anyway, when they're not busy. He said he eats free there, but the food's not that good. He's from Baltimore, and Annapolis is "too slow" for him. I laughed and, half-joking, told him it's too fast for me, being from Kentucky.

We waited, and waited a little more. At this point it was 7:15 and he had been there since 6:50. I had assumed I was going to have to wait for the 8:00 bus, but he told me the 7:00 bus had never come.

A few more people rolled in to the bus stop. A white guy in a wheelchair and an older bearded black man with corn rows and a backpack came to wait. I was talking to Jay some more, and the bearded guy looked at me and said, "You're Erin, aren't you!" I recognized him as a guy I had talked to about masonry on the bus about a month ago, after which we had exchanged phone numbers and company names because he thought my company's work was interesting.

I jumped up to give him a handshake, but he ignored my hand and instead gave me a big hug. He asked how I was doing, and to the people watching the scene he said, "I met this girl on the bus a while back when she was singing Marvin Gaye--and I thought, 'This girl's too young to know Marvin Gaye!' She said her parents listened to it and she knew the song--and I thought, man, this girl's got soul!" (I should note here that my parents don't listen to Marvin Gaye--the song was "How Sweet It Is to be Loved By You," which everybody knows.)

I saw that he had flipped open his little notepad to the page where I had written down my name and company name. He asked me to write down my email for him, and I did. He asked me what I was doing at the end of July and asked me not to make plans because his family has a big family reunion at Sandy Point State Park "with lots of food...venison, chicken, BBQ." (Venison.)

I told him I'd love to come and to let me know more details. He said I might like his nephew's friend Todd, and said, "I'll call Todd right now! And put you on the phone! He'll love this!"

While Bruce (he finally name-dropped himself, thankfully--I was thinking his name was Richard or Robert) was calling Todd, a black man who looked about 60 sat down where I had been sitting on the bench at the bus stop. I heard him say something about waiting for the bus, and he had a definite accent--sounded Jamaican. I asked him where he was from, and I struggled to understand as he told me he moved from Jamaica 50 years ago. He told us (anyone listening) that he had been born in Jamaica in 1915 and lived in a town called Suzy. Trying to get his story straight, I said, "So you moved from Jamaica 50 years ago" and he corrected me, saying, "I moved from Suzy 50 years ago."

Jay did some quick math and said, "You're 91!!" And the man said yes. He didn't look a year over 60, and Bruce, who was listening at this point, said, "That's due to a good diet! Lots of vegetables!" The old man replied, "And liquor. Drink plenty of liquor." We all burst out laughing. He said he drinks Tanqueray gin with orange juice every day, he says, and advised us to do likewise.

Awesome Wednesday Part II: The Bus Finally Comes is coming soon!


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