Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fills My Heart With Very Special Things

This is the true story of the only love affair I've ever had.  To call it a whirlwind romance may be a bit strong; it may have been little more than a sly infatuation, a gentle building of a relationship doomed to failure.  I suppose everyone has one of those in college, and ours was brief, but memorable.  

It started with the note on my windshield.  I didn't see it at first - I was in a bit of a mood that day, irritated by something I no longer remember, but it was really important at the time.  I'm halfway home before I notice the little slip of orange under my wiper blade, and I'm a bit put off that someone's put another advert on my window.

But when I get home, and can pull the little paper off my window, I can see it's not an advertisement at all.  It's a post-it, and there's a note written on it in extra-girly penmanship: 

Bug Love!  -Yellow Bug

Yellow bug?  And then I remember: in the space adjacent to mine, a yellow Volkswagen Beetle parked nose to nose with my grey one.  I noticed it enough in my sour state to think, "Aw.  It's like they're kissing," and then promptly forgot about it.  But clearly, I wasn't the only one to see it.

It's such a sweet gesture that my bad mood immediately disappears.  What a harmlessly thoughtful thing to do for a stranger, and how...frivolous.  It's silly little things like this that I cherish, because they simply don't happen.  The world is far too serious nowadays to dabble in whimsy like this, and I'm so warmed by it, I know I have to write back.

I get to school early the next day, and roam the parking lot before class, searching for Yellow Bug.  There are two yellow Beetles in this lot, but only one has a turtle sticker on the rear window.  I take a gamble on the turtle, and hope Yellow Bug remembers I'm the grey Beetle with the purple flower.  I slide my note under her windshield wiper, and cross my fingers for no rain.

Is this THE Yellow Bug, of Bug Love fame?  
Thank you for brightening my day!
Love, Grey Bug

That afternoon, when I return to my car:

I AM the Yellow Bug, and you're welcome!
I love making bad days better!

Ah.  Now contact has officially been made.

There's a brief period of post-it silence.  I don't see Yellow Bug for over a week, when suddenly there she is with an empty parking spot next to her.  All I have are index cards in my car, so I dash off a quick note on the unlined side.

Hey there, Yellow Bug.  Long time, no see!
-Grey Bug

I draw a pair of googly eyes in the corner, and stick it under her windshield wiper.  It's still there when I leave for the day, but the next afternoon, there's another orange post-it on my window.

What's up, Grey Bug? 

It may sound silly to get so much joy out of these anonymous notes, but there's something almost comforting about thinking of a stranger, and knowing that stranger is thinking back.  "What's up, Grey Bug," may not seem like much, but when's the last time you were moved to leave a friendly note on a stranger's car?  When has a stranger ever left kind words under your wiper blades?  It's a little thing, but every one lifted my spirits a little higher.

We met only once.  The truth is, our meeting is probably the thing that ended it all.

It's a Friday afternoon, and I'm ready to go home.  It's been a long day, but tomorrow's Halloween, which is exciting, because it means Half-Price Candy Day is almost upon us.  I fiddle with my key chain, trying to decide if I should run right out first thing Sunday morning, or risk waiting until Monday afternoon, when a voice rings out in the distance - "Hey!  It's Grey Bug!"

My head snaps up.  Four other students are walking my way, three young men and a girl with braided pigtails and her face painted to look like Heath Ledger's Joker.  The second our eyes meet, I know it's going to be awkward.  Like when you dance in your living room, and you think your alone, but then you realize that everyone you know and care about has been watching you from the doorway the whole time.  You feel great while you're doing it, but now that you've been caught being silly, you don't know anything else to feel but embarrassed.

We're parked right next to each other, so we can't just throw each other a passing wave and go about our business.  This is a meeting that can't be avoided.  

She waves tentatively as she approaches.  She probably wishes she weren't done up like the Joker right now.  Our conversation is as follows:   

"Hi.  I'm Yellow Bug."

"Hi.  I'm Grey Bug."



"Okay, bye!"

"See ya!"

And that was the end of that.

There were no more notes after that.  I'd still recognize her by her sticker, and I'm sure she recognized my flower, but now that the fourth wall had come down around our ankles the thrill had all but disappeared.  It was no longer cars talking to cars but people talking to people, and without the anonymity of our license plates to hide behind, the whole act of passing notes to a stranger felt supremely dorky.  The mystique had gone, and so had the fun.

I no longer go to that school, and I've long stopped checking passing Beetles for turtle stickers.  But I still think about you, Yellow Bug, wherever you are, and how a kind note from a stranger made a sour day a little sweeter.  I hope you're still passing around the Bug Love.  I'll try to do the same.  


Ro Magnolia said...

Oh, I love this story - random cheerfulness from a stranger. Isn't it sad that once we don't have the cars to hide behind, we have a hard time continuing? But it was fun while it lasted, wasn't it!

Makes me want to look harder for ways to brighten other people's days.

The Snide Server said...

This was incredibly sweet! Although it didn't last, you'll never forget Yellow Bug's kind gesture.

Kindness from random strangers can help bring a little brightness into others lives.

What a neat story!

Liz @ Perfect Chaos said...

This is a true love story,... the excitement of the first "encounter", the anticipation of the next one, the awkwardness of actually meeting, and the end of what could have been. So cute!
Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your nice comment :)

Purple Cow said...

That is soooooo pretty made even more romantic because of how fleeting it was. Sometimes the most romantic things are those that never happen.

Have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

Having owned a VW (a tan 87 Cabriolet that was my pride and joy...I may have loved her more than my children...) I can attest to the strange, wonderful people that often drive VW's. I often waved to strangers in passing simply because they were driving a VW. My actual friends and family thought I was nuts. My VW friends and family thought they (actual friends and family) were nuts. Thank you for the drive down memory lane and the little ray of sunshine on an emotionally cloudy day.

Robin said...

Found this on Purple Cow's blog, but it is so touching. Thank you for sharing:-)