This morning, I left the house in plenty of time to walk to my regular bus stop. But as I came down Armour, I saw Postman walking to the Armour & Gillham stop. He waved to me, and I waved back cheerfully. I started to round the corner to walk to Linwood, then gave a mental shrug, and crossed the street to join Postman, and the woman who works at Burger King and was waiting there today, too.
Postman was brushing his beard as I walked up. "Good morning," I said, to both of them, then added to Postman, "You're growing a beard!" I was sure he hadn't had one before.
He gave me a wry smile. "Yeah, just got tired of shaving it off."
"It looks good," I said. It was growing out mixed black and grey, and changed his look rather, but I think for the better, over all. It was a beard with character.
"I'm trying to get used to it." He scooted to one side of the bench under the shelter, making room for me, but I only set down my lunch bag and magazine, standing to brush my hair, and so I could face him and BK Worker while I talked to them.
I took a closer look at his bare scalp, noting the nearly invisible black dots of hair stubble. "You gonna get tired of shaving your head, too?" I asked.
He shook his head. "No, that's still okay to shave." He grinned. "Too much grey up there. I can't handle it."
I glanced at BK Worker, smiling. "Now, why don't women ever think of that? We could just shave our heads when we go grey!"
"Yeah, why don't we?" she said, smiling back. "Instead, we just deal with it. Go figure."
"You been growing your hair like that since you were a teenager?" Postman asked.
"Pretty much," I said. My hair is waist-length now. "I've been trying to get it to grow longer, but this is about as long as I've been able to get it. I'm still working on it, though."
"You gonna cut it off and give it to Locks of Love when you've got it real long?" BK Worker asked me. "Or just keep it for yourself?"
I chuckled. "By the time I've gotten it much longer, it'll all be grey and no one else would want it. I've got a few grey hairs in there already."
"Me, too," she said. She tipped up her Burger King hat and pointed to spots in her thatch of dark, kinky hair. "Here, and here."
I couldn't see anything but black hair. Neither could Postman. "You call that grey?" he said.
She laughed. "That's the thing with women. We know where it is," she told him.
I can't find my grey hairs without hunting around for them. Some times they break off or fall out, too, just like all the other hairs, too. We talked about hair and work and some other things, until the bus came. I'd just gotten my hair into a ponytail.
Postman got to his feet. "I'll ride with you today," he said. I couldn't quite read the tone of his voice. We got onto the bus, me first, and I saw the usual cast assembled at the front -- Paper-reading Lady, Knit Shirt Woman in another striped shirt, Little Lady sitting a seat back. The front of the bus was pretty full with people and their possessions, so I took a seat three back from the front, setting my bags in my lap so Postman could sit next to me if he wanted.
But when Postman was done feeding in his dollar, he turned to the bus and shook his head at all of them. "I know, y'all haven't seen me for a while," he said, sounding good-humored, as usual. "I'm goin' straight to the back, don't you worry." And he did, walking past them. Knit Shirt Woman and Little Lady laughed, and even Paper-reading Lady looked up from her paper, looking after him with an expression like she wanted to scowl, but couldn't quite help smiling instead. They talked about it, giggling, as he took a seat in the last row at the rear of the bus.
I couldn't help wondering about it, why he hadn't taken this bus in a while, and why he decided to catch it today. As we pulled up to my stop, I waved goodbye to him, warmly, and he waved back. I said good-bye to the women at the front, too, but I'm not sure they noticed.