I met The Bus on my first trip to Tecumseh. Parked next to a pole barn/garage, which later successfully served as a wedding reception venue, it wasn’t immediately visible from the road. Yet, it was certainly Jeff’s pride and joy and the perfect vehicle to gather friends and family. The bus’s main function was to provide lodging in the Michigan International Speedway infield during race weekends. Although, it did also serve as a wedding shuttle, once.
My tour initiated with an abrupt, boot-heel push- in of the rusty accordion door and a push out of a strong odorous something… a little… hmm… Dank? Rotten in Denmark? Wet dog who’d just taken a 12-hour hot beer bath? I hesitated, but Jeff barely notice the sharp tang. Not wanting to be rude, I held my breath. Then, when I had to breathe, it was with a hand over my mouth and pinching my nose until my nostrils were sealed. “Oh!” Jeff exclaimed. He wasn’t, however, moved by my predicament or by the many fragrant forgotten un-treasures.
That first, and relatively only slightly assaulting smell, turned out to be a loaf of petrified, hideously green bread hiding beneath on of the liftable storage/seat benches. Jeff amused himself by rapping his knuckles on it and scientifically wondering what he might find inside of it if he were to break it. I requested he not experiment in my presence by squealing, “Oh. My. God! Don’t you dare!”
Deeper, near the back of the bus where the trouble-makers usually sit, the real, abusive attack began when Jeff pried open the off-white lid of an insulated cooler. The reek that jumped out and slapped us turned out to be a half-dozen half-leaky or fully exploded beer cans encased in the previously well insulated blue bottom of the tub. Two six-packs of bow-lidded and likely skunked beer cans were hanging out in there, too. Jeff just shook his head, lamented, “Well… that’s a shame.”
Adding even more moldy atmosphere were numerous sets of soggy shoes and one stray, randomly strewn clothing and a few moldy towels. “Oh. My. God!” I said, backing away as fast as possible. “Yeah,” Jeff shrugged, and followed my retreat path.
As we reached the front of the bus, Jeff suddenly smiled widely. “I’ve been wondering where that shirt went to! It’s my favorite!” He was, in my opinion, unsoundly, and deliriously happy as he grabbed at a wadded ball of crunchy fabric resting on the window ledge next to the driver’s seat.
“Um, I don’t think that can be salvaged…” I ventured.
“Nah,” he replied, still grinning. “It’ll be ok after it’s washed.”
I remember thinking, “I hope he’s not serious…” I must have not hidden my doubt well, because he laughed. “I’ve washed stuff worse than this before!” He shared, waving it at me, adding,…”at least, it’s not dried cow-pocky! That stuff’s haarrddd to get out!”
Even as a city girl unfamiliar with cow-anything, I got his drift. Somehow, I forgot to remember to not use my nose. I let go a laugh, followed by a gag. I tripped a little on the tiny, awkward half-spiral stairs that were more suited for school children sized feet. I wobbled, recovered, wobbled, got one foot on the ground, wobbled some more and saved myself from a complete side-plant by settling into a one-knee tucked under me, sitting position.
After he stopped laughing, and wiped his eyes, Jeff looked back at the bus. “Yeah,” he scrunched up his nose, “I guess it’s gonna need some cleanin’ up before the race.”
I told him, I’d be glad to help with the cleaning, but he’d have to get rid of all the stinky stuff, first – without my help.
“Ok,” he agreed, amicably. Then, with a twinkle in his eyes, and hands on his hips, Jeff chuckled a tongue-in-cheek question. “Do you always fall like a ballerina?” I rolled my eyes. “Because,” he continued, “I’d kinda like to see that again!”
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