Years ago, when I was living in Houston, I took the bus every day from my apartment near the Houston Post building to downtown. It was a short commute and I almost always got a little reading in during the commute. Lots of people read and one of the most memorable was a guy I saw nearly every day. He was the kind of guy I'm most inclined to notice – big, muscular, always dressed in work clothes, blue jeans with a t-shirt or sweatshirt. He carried a lunch pail and he always had a book. I noticed him because a.) he was the sort of guy I notice, and b.) he read interesting books.
The first time I noticed him was one morning when we were directly across from each other. He had dark hair and heavy dark eyebrows and a tough-looking, sober face. During the entire ride he never looked up from the paperback he was absorbed in, On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I appreciated his choice. He got off the bus a couple stops before mine at a construction site. He stood up, stuffed the book in his hip pocket, picked up his lunch pail and jumped off the bus without ever glancing up. After that first notice, I saw him often. He always had a book and his books were always mass market paperbacks that looked pretty beaten up, like he got them in a thrift shop.
During the time we commuted on the same bus he read Herman Wouk's The Winds of War, James Jones' From Here to Eternity, a lot of James Clavell and Norman Mailer, some Henry Miller. I sometimes wondered if he chose the books specifically or if he just read what was available to him. Sometimes when I saw him reading a book I loved I wanted to talk to him but he didn't look like the talking type. The truth is, in the several years that we both rode that bus, we never said a word to each other.
I thought about this because there have been a lot of pictures on Facebook and other such sites lately of fine looking men, lost in a book. I appreciate them and they made me remember a guy on a bus from long ago. Reading is sexy. An attractive man completely lost in a great book is very sexy. And very memorable.
Thanks for reading.