I'm watching wild game from behind a blind, observing the natural order of things, the hunt and the kill, the feeding -- all of it.
A young Sacramento State co-ed is seated just in front of my elevated position in the rear of the No. 82 bus. All of the seats have at least one rider as the bus arrives at the Watt and Wal-Mart stop.
The guy who chases co-eds boards, shows his pass to the driver and starts down the center of the coach. He walks past several seats -- past the young lady with an infant, past a guy on his way to Sac State, past another guy who will stick around until the bus arrives at the 65th Street station -- until he reaches the seat with the young co-ed.
He looks down and then he looks around, wary. He doesn't see me behind my blind. I'm still, silent as I watch. The guy then asks the co-ed if he can sit next to her.
She quickly agrees and rearranges her backpack and an open textbook on her lap so that the guy can sit.
From my position behind the blind, I'm able to hear the guy who chases co-eds for the first time.
The guy talks in a slow, awkward way. I imagine the woman has a limited choice of reactions: be insulted that this weirdo wants to chat, perhaps frightened by his obvious diminished capacity, or play along and assume he's just another harmless guy, albeit one with a valid excuse for sounding slow-witted.
He manages to get the co-ed who is reading a textbook to admit she is a student at Sac State. He tries moving the conversation to something about religion but starts getting single-word answers. Our hunter is clearly losing the game. His prey is slipping away, putting her nose deeper into the textbook to signal her displeasure.
I'll give the guy credit, he tries. It is early in the hunting season, and the summer was particularly harsh. Puzzled about where to take the conversation next, he rubs his scalp slowly. His hair is cut in a classic flattop, a fashion I thought went out of style for young men back in 1959. Still, it fits his work uniform -- black casual shoes, ecru Dockers with a black apron tied at the waist and a white, short-sleeve shirt with the collar askew. His plastic travel coffee cup is also apparently part of the uniform. The only post-1950s part of his attire are his glasses, which are a stylish widescreen model, the lenses narrower than they are wide.
The bus is standing room only by the time it nears the guy's stop on Howe Avenue. As he leaves the bus, a tall, handsome young man takes the vacant half of the seat next to the co-ed. There is no conversation between the co-ed and her new seatmate. It is all a delicate silence masked by the rattling noise of the bus and the conversations among the regular riders.
Then when the bus is stalled in the turn lane from J Street to the Sac State campus, the guy points to the cars stuck in traffic and the pair start an animated discussion, presumably about the joys of not driving to school. The co-ed has put away the distraction of her textbook. Her hands are now an active part of her communication, gesturing and cheerfully flying about.
A woman, having endured the confines of a conversation with a child, experiences the joy of adult communication.
I turn the page in my notebook and continue to scribble my observations.