Riding on the 112 from Lymington to Brockenhurst, we heard the following tale recounted from the rear of the bus…
“April stood timidly by the wall, thumbing the material of her dress, obviously uncomfortable with how her rapidly maturing body looked and felt in her old evening clothes. Her breasts, having long since budded, had grown ample and firm and her hips had begun to widen, giving her a womanly shape that even the most modest of dresses couldn’t help but accentuate. Yet even though her body indicated the impending bloom of her sexuality, April’s face was still young, and her gaze was downcast and self conscious.
When she looked up, her eyes briefly met those of Alistair, the new negro boy in school from Jamaica. Her gaze quickly darted back to her feet, as did his. Alistair, though, feeling an atypical rush of courage, decided to make the trek across the floor to ask April to dance. He nervously held out a clammy hand, which April nervously accepted, and they walked out on the floor together and awkwardly rocked back and forth together to a slow song.
With every timid glance they each became a bit bolder. April shot Alistair a coquettish smile, and Alistair pulled April in closer, bringing is trembling hand to rest more comfortably on the small of her back. Alistair’s heart pounded, and his thoughts began to stumble over one another. He was trying to figure out his next move. Should he kiss her? If not, then what should he do?
He grew more and more confused, eventually arriving at a rash decision.
He hastily slid his slender ebony fingers up her dress and then frantically poked and prodded between her thighs for the soft, fleshy opening of her nubile vagina. She reflexively screamed and pulled away, drawing the attention of nearly the entire gathering.
“This bloke tried to diddle my nether areas!” She screamed indignantly.
“Please April,” Alistair pleaded in his soft Calypso accent. “I am but an adolescent negro immigrant, I know very little of English standards of propriety.”
“Very little, indeed!” Scoffed April. “It would appear you know very little about the fairer sex as well!”
At this, all the other children cackled and poked fun at Alistair, who hung his head in shame, his sizeable half-erect member still bulging through his pants and leaving a large pre-cum stain. He pushed his way through the cruel, chiding masses with tears streaming from his eyes and left the gymnasium. Some of the more aggressive bullies followed him to the glass doors, and continued to taunt him even as he went outside.
April began to feel bad, and she found herself wishing she had reacted differently. What Alistair did was undoubtedly inappropriate, but at heart he seemed to be a decent gentleman. She wanted the opportunity to talk to him in private, and she certainly didn’t feel right about the whole affair becoming a public tar and feathering. She pushed her way to the door and called out, “Alistair!”
When he turned around she could see the pain of embarrassment on his face, but before she could say another word, Alistair was engulfed by a cloud of swarming hornets. The bees began stinging him mercilessly, and his cries of pain drew the attention of the head chaperon, Mrs. Cumdrops, who promptly shut and locked the doors.
“Wait, Mrs. Cumdrops, Alistair is still outside!” appealed April.
“I am aware of the situation, April,” Mrs. Cumdrops said snidely. “As head chaperon of this dance it is my responsibility to do what best for the most people.”
Meanwhile, Alistair, the Negro child, had run back to the gymnasium doors and was frantically pounding on the glass door. His face was grotesquely swollen from bee stings and every square centimeter of his chocolaty skin was covered in lesions. He sobbed and begged to be let in, pressing his face against the glass door. He then seemed to get tired and woozy from the bee toxins coursing through his blood stream, and he dropped to his knees dragging his face against the glass as he slinked down, and leaving a greasy trail of blood, puss and tears. All the while the bees continued to attack.
Mrs. Cumdrops, with arms crossed, looked down disapprovingly at Alistair from the other side of the glass. She then turned to address the crowd of middle school dance attendees who disquietedly looked on. “It is only natural for you all to feel empathy for this young negro boy outside, but it is important that we not allow our desire to help the ONE cause us to shy away from our duty to do what is in the best interest of the MANY.”
Alistair’s screams continued.
“If we were to open the door to allow him in,” Mrs. Cumdrops continued, “bees would come in with him, and that is a risk I’m simply not willing to take.”
“What if we do it quick-like?” Asked Mrs. Tumbledry. “Surely if just a few bees get in it can’t do much harm. I just hate to see the negro boy suffer this way.”
“Mrs. Tumbledry, unless you plan on abdicating your administrative assistant position, I suggest that you shush yourself,” Threatened Mrs. Cumdrops. “And if you can’t respect me, you can at least respect the position of head chaperone.”
“Yes ma’am,” capitulated Mrs. Tumbledry.
The whole group then watched as Alistair slowly lost consciousness, and then began convulsing and vomiting.”
Actually, all we heard was “Did’jou ‘ear? Yeah, ‘e tried to fingah April at the dahnce and she said no!” That said, many thanks are due to Ryan Moll for his rousing interpretation of the events in question.
But let’s hear more about that bus trip… And the one before that one.
It was nearing the end of our first week in England, and having recently purchased our £20 bus passes we were eager to explore the exotic outer reaches of Dorset (and possibly Southampton, if we played our cards right). Our first destination was a place that deluged photo albums from my childhood, Corfe Castle. Destroyed by Roundheads in the English Civil War, Corfe is now surrounded by pleasant meadows and charming tea shops and delightful sheep, making it the quintessential British tourist spot.
We took the 40 bus to get there, which over the course of a charming hour delivered us through villages and towns of increasingly pictorial charming-scenicness. After arriving at Corfe, we were deterred from exploring the ruins by a 6.50 entry fee, so we strolled around the surrounding hills and cemetery, taking a few “Mom” pictures and eating Jamaican Jerk Chicken flavored potato chips. We ambled back into town right as the 40 bus was leaving, so, stranded for another hour, we decided to splurge and get tea and scones at a National Trust tea shop. It was… well, lovely.
One hour later, at 5:30, we somehow found ourselves watching another 40 bus fly past us. With the entire village of Corfe already scrutinized, we decided to walk towards the next bus stop to kill time. This resulted in a 2 mile slog through nettle-strewn marshland, then a hair-raising stroll alongside a highway on which we tripped over a dead badger and started screaming. No photos of the carcass were taken – I still don’t know why.
Finally, around 6:00, we got to a bus stop in Kingston Mewes, a woody collection of cottages along a single quiet lane. After affixing a Danville Calendar to the local bulletin board, we sat down to wait for the next bus. After a few minutes, a man walking his dogs approached us,
“Waiting for the boos?”
“Uh, yeah. Yeah.”
“Then ye’ll have to coom back t’morrow, ’bout 9 in the morning.”
“Yes, the 44 only comes ’round twice a day.”
“Where does the 40 go?”
“(Turning around, pointing) Oop the top o’ that hill, ’bout a moile.”
And so, with 20 minutes to catch the next 40 – the last one of the day before we’d be stranded in the middle of grazing fields and stone houses, we sprinted up a giant goddamn hill. We had a few minutes to catch our breath before the next 40 revealed itself over the crest of a bucolic hill. As we were about to get on, Devon asked the most pertinent question of the day,
“Uh, where’s my bus pass?”…
So, the next day, and another £20 spent, we embarked on a grand adventure to the New Forest village of Brockenhurst, a place famous for wild horses that meander through the main commerce area, and the fact that they have neglected for several centuries to build a bridge over the creek that intersects the end of their main street. This bit of delightfully rustic civic planning means that, at the end of the day when you have tired of Brockenhurst’s tea shops and mini-Tesco, you have to drive your car through a large, perpetually flowing puddle, resulting in a winsome and whimsical splash.
Not having a car, we were reduced to traipsing through the fields outside of Brockenhurst. In the course of this adventure we secretly drank Carlsberg’s in a forest (to protect ourselves from angry, quaint locals), peed next to a creek, ate the last of the Jamaican Jerk Chicken-flavored crisps and started on our first bags of Kangaroo BBQ flavored crisps, and thought we saw a dead horse (merely dozing).
After two hours of this, we decided it was time to head back to Poole for another evening being alternately stuffed full of food and viciously insulted by Nana George. There were only two buses left in the day headed back to Lymington, where we’d have to catch the next bus to Bournemouth. 15 minutes later, we watched mouths agape as one of those buses sped past us on the main street. Some quick thinking took us to the main bus station in town, believing we’d never be able to miss the last bus from there.
Reclined in our aisle seats, sweating profusely following a brief foot chase after that very bus, we discovered in our reliable route guide that there would be no more buses leaving from Lymington to Bournemouth as of 5:00 that afternoon. Since it was 4:50 and we had another forty minutes to get to Lymington, we were distressed, and about to be stranded some 15 miles from our dinner plans. Frantic searching of the route guide showed us that, if we could catch the Lymington-Christchurch bus at 5:35, we would arrive in the center of Christchurch just in time to sprint four miles to the nearest Bournemouth-bound bus that would leave some 15 minutes later. It sounded crazy – but just crazy enough to work.
It turned out that it didn’t, so we had to pay several pounds to a different, competing bus company to get to Poole. But we did have a fantastic dinner, and we did get fantastically insulted. So all was well.
But that doesn’t mean that we weren’t wronged. A bus system, in theory, should serve people whether they’re smart and follow the timetable or whether they’re idiots, and the Wilts & Dorset system seems to hold nothing but contempt for the latter category of rider. Moreover, why would they stop their cross-county services at a peak hour? Which brings me to this long-winded point:
Like the propriety-bound April, the W&D bus system refused to go all the way. In doing so, both parties not only caused untold harm to those affected by their intransigence, but ultimately missed out on what could’ve been a memorable, if uncomfortable experience. We may never know what became of April, or the Lymington-Bournemouth schedule, but we do know this – when it comes to this trip, we need to go all the way. No hussing and fussing. No opting for the easy way out. No making excuses not to experience all that we can. No Fear. Big Dogs.
And that’s what we learned.