We recently took a field trip to a museum in a nearby city. Our bus driver, Bob, has been with us many years and although over 80 years old, is quite active and sound in mind and body. He is a World War II vet and his stories of that time are fascinating. I secretly have always felt a little sorry for him since he lives alone and what must be a fairly solitary existence since his children all live out of state.
We arrived at the museum and were greeted by a well dressed woman who looked to be in her 70's. "I am Ms. J. (names have been changed) and this is my assistant docent, Ellie," she said. Ellie was another refined looking woman who was probably in her late 60's.
On our way in, we also met the retired woman who volunteered in the museum gift shop, Betty. Betty greeted us warmly as we filed past.
The students enjoyed themselves as we toured the museum with Ms. J. and Ellie as our guides. We found out Ms. J. was a widow whose husband had served in the diplomatic corps overseas. They had many adventures in their duty posts which she cheerfully shared. Ellie was also a widow who'd moved south for the eternal warmth we enjoy.
It was so warm, in fact, that Bob left his vantage point by the harbor we'd parked next to and came inside as the the kids swarmed the gift store.
He stationed himself near the gift shop and looked to be enjoying his conversation with Betty, the lady in charge of the gift shop. My co-teacher and I lost ourselves in monitoring the students and looking through the gift shop ourselves.
I felt a tapping on my shoulder and turned around. It was Ms. J.
"I...I want to ask you something, " she said with a bit of hesitation.
"Sure," I said. "What is it?"
"Well, I was wondering...your bus driver...is he..is he.. married? I didn't see a ring on his hand."
I was a bit surprised, but I answered, "No, Bob's wife died several years ago and he's never remarried."
Her face brightened with a large smile as she nodded her thanks and made a direct line to where Bob was sitting, talking with Betty.
I saw my co-teacher and whispered to her, "You'll never believe what Ms. J. asked me!"
She laughed and said, "Wait till you hear what Ellie just asked me!"
I told her what Ms. J had asked about Bob, and she replied, "Ellie asked me if Bob was taken! I wasn't sure what she meant, so she asked again if he was seeing anyone- I couldn't believe it!"
Our gaze turned discretely to Bob, who was now surrounded by Ms. J., Ellie, and Betty. They all looked like high school girls, vying for the attention of the captain of the football team. Bob was in his element, laughing, joking, and obviously enjoying the company of these three women.
Betty, the gift shop volunteer, commented after she returned to the counter to ring up my purchases, "Your bus driver is so funny!" Her eyes cast shyly downward for a moment. "He is such a flirt!" Her cheeks flushed with color as she grinned.
Even as we were loading the kids back on the bus, the women were still chatting Bob up, although he was trying to get out the door.
Later, after we were on the road and the kids were happily connected to their Ipods, I teased Bob. "You really had those ladies' attention!"
"Not to be bragging, but they were after me, " he confided.
I was about to agree with him that some women are shameless in their pursuit of men when he continued.
"In fact, I have a date with one of them tonight- with the one who led your tour. Then, Ellie asked me to attend a church dinner with her on Saturday night and Betty invited me over to her house for a home cooked meal next week."
He added, "It's kind of hard to squeeze it all in right now as I'm sort of seeing two other ladies, but it will be fun."
I won't be feeling sorry for him anymore.