Paul Andersen: A hug that could end in wild sex
You never know what you’ll see on a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus.
On a snowy winter day, riding the bus to Snowmass for a day of skiing, I was gazing out the window and saw a bald eagle winging its way up the Brush Creek valley at about the same speed as the bus.
The eagle was pumping its wings, floating over a winter wonderland of snow-flocked sage and burr oak against a deep blue sky. The scene was majestic, and I was elated watching the national emblem in flight.
I wanted to shout out to everyone: “Look at the eagle!” But everyone was on their phones, heads down, eyes squinted, dialed out of the present place and time. I enjoyed the eagle in silent, solitary appreciation.
Later that week, riding a downvalley bus, I saw a herd of elk in a small meadow across from Gerbazdale. It’s always a novelty to see an elk herd, and my pulse quickened as I counted 23 cows and calves.
I glanced at my fellow passengers, hoping someone else might be marveling at the elk the way I was, a fellow rider to whom I could nod in mutual appreciation for a glimpse of what nature had provided.
But everyone was in their narrow digital worlds, eyes locked on their screens, fingers scrolling through messages, attention fully diverted into devices held like rosaries in penitent hands.
The best was yet to come. One spring afternoon, I was riding the BRT from Basalt to Aspen, enjoying the chauffeured luxury of free passenger service. Since I’ve been a senior and enjoy free access to the RFTA bus system, my car stays in Basalt and I let RFTA do the driving.
The bus becomes my library as I peruse a book or the newspapers, coveting the quiet time to read. If an acquaintance happens along, I exchange pleasantries, then politely excuse myself from conversation and turn guardedly to whatever it is I’m reading.
“I have my books, and my poetry to protect me,” sang Simon and Garfunkel in a musical lament about willful isolation. “I am a rock. I am an island.” Sometimes, it’s nice to shelter in a good book and to let all else fade away.
Still, I raised my eyes as a young couple took the seat directly in front of me. I noticed how they sat without talking, gazing intently at their phones as if the other did not exist.
“I have my phone,and my apps to protect me the song might go today. How strange, I thought, for this couple to isolate while sitting right next to one another. Suddenly, the young man thrust his phone into the girl’s face.
He was showing her a message on his phone that was large enough for me, the shameless, bus-riding senior citizen voyeur, to easily read: “I NEED A HUG THAT COULD END IN WILD SEX.”
I’ve used a lot of what I consider imaginative romantic lines in my life, but this was another dimension, a digital display of what an intimate relationship can be today. There was something amusingly outrageous about this young man’s candid, albeit lame, attempt at seduction.
Too bad it didn’t work. The girl rolled her eyes and pushed the phone away as if it were a lump of smelly cheese, and she being lactose intolerant. The dude took her rebuke with a shrug and went back to texting. She did the same.
This was their only communication during a 20-minute bus ride. Unless, of course, they were texting each other with digital indiscretions too private for prying eyes like mine, thumbing lewd characters instead of actually speaking the words of love that could have been passing in warm murmurs between them.
They got off the bus, and I resumed reading my book, immersed in the handheld device of my choice, created over 500 years ago by Gutenberg. I blissfully ignored everything around me, passing by eagles, elk, forlorn lovers and god knows what.
I was content to read, having glimpsed the world of high-tech romantic relations, where a hug can lead to wild sex — but only over the phone.
Paul Andersen’s column appears on Mondays. He may be reached at email@example.com.
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