I don't know why I was surprised to see her, sitting like a giant fur-covered mountain on this evening's rush hour bus. I guess maybe I thought she ceased to exist after I escaped her fuzzy largeness the last time. (Do we all do this . . . live so in the moment that once someone is out of our sight, they leave our consciousness, ceasing to exist?) You know who I'm talking about . . . the mangy Fur Coat Lady.
It wasn't even her lumpen wooliness that first caught my attention. It was that smell. Have you ever been so moved by a familiar smell that you were transported back to the place and time where you first smelled it? That's what happened here (and yes, this was the most dominant smell on the already aromatic bus). The smell hit me and I raised my head from my magazine to see her, in all her mangy glory. I had a flashback to the first time I saw her, smashed between her and the end seat, her special smell filling my nostrils. There she was again. Only this time she had on a hat. Not any ordinary hat, either, but one of those big tube-shaped Russian hats covered in fur. And not just any old fur either, but the same roadkill German Shepherd fur that was on her coat. She matched! It was an ensemble!
FCL was sitting a seat away from me, with the seat between us empty. The bus was quickly filling up, and yet the seat between us remained empty (go figure). Finally, some woman made the tragic mistake of squeezing in the small area not taken up by the FCL's mountainous rear. This poor woman didn't know what she was getting into . . . but as soon as she sat down, she started to sniff and look around. You know how it is. You smell something bad, and you swing your head around, blame in your eyes, trying to find the culprit. I tried to catch her eye, let her know that I wasn't the offending odor, but I think she figured it out pretty quickly.
My stop arrived, and I got off, looking back at the poor woman wedged in next to FCL. And as I walked home, I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps this other woman walked home and regaled her friends with her own tale of the German Shepherd coat.