The girl on the bus was inquisitive. She was not the girl pictured, but she embodied the reality of the girl pictured: she was a girl, sat on a bus.
Sat on the seat directly in front of me, actually. As soon as she had placed herself there, I sensed she’d done so with a purpose. She started by asking,
“What’s in the bag?”
Or something like that; I can’t really remember. The bag she was referring to however was my overly-large Argos carrier bag filled with new pillows for my bed.
“Oh, just pillows,” I replied.
“Wow, it’s really big!”
She studied the bag further.
“Where is Argos?”
By this point I’d picked up she had an accent, an American one. It still confused me why she wanted to know where Argos was though; it was as if she was really milking the conversation.
“Oh, you know where Sainsbury’s is?”
“Well it’s not too far from Sainsbury’s.”
She could’ve just turned round and ignored me for the rest of the trip or jumped off the moving bus given how unbelievably ridiculous my response was, but instead she said,
“I might have to check it out sometime.”
To which I replied,
“Yeah you should, it’s like the best place for pillows!”
I, should’ve turned round and ignored her for the rest of the trip or jumped off the moving bus given how unbelievably lame my response was, but instead I remained seated, shrugging off my awful attempts at conversation with a smile.
“So what do you do?” She asked.
Then it hit me: she was talking to me. Not talking, but talking. I’d given her plenty of opportunities to shun me but she continued to take an interest. My mind clocked what she looked like: auburn hair, creamy complexion, dazzling teeth… It doesn’t matter what she looks like, this girl just started randomly talking to you on a bus - just get her to marry you already! Instead of asking for her hand in marriage, I continued by saying,
“Actually, I just graduated from university so I’m just living at home with my parents now.”
“Oh cool, what university did you go to?”
I pointed to my shirt, branded with my university’s name. “University of Surrey. That’s what my shirt says.”
Of course that’s what the shirt says, you pointed at it! You don’t need to mention it again! Idiot!
“Oh okay, and where is that?”
“It’s in Guildford, so not too far from London.”
That attempt at directions was far better than the one before.
“That’s nice! So obviously you said you graduated, what are you doing now?”
“Well, now I’m thinking of doing a masters, but I’m also just looking around for jobs.”
The two of us were just talking and smiling at each other. I couldn’t believe that what was happening, was actually happening.
“That’s really cool… Oh, I don’t think I got your name by the way.”
“My name is Ayo.”
“It’s nice to meet you Ayo, my name is…”
I’d rather not.
In my mind, this conversation couldn’t have been going any better. Once I clocked on to what I thought was happening, my words were flowing a lot smoother and I was actually forming some decent sentences. This never happens: girls approaching me in public places and starting a conversation.
“So, do you have a belief in God?”
That question could mean one of two things:
- She’s trying to figure out if I’d be a suitable father for our mixed race babies
- She’s trying to convert me to something
“Actually, yes I do.”
“Well of course you do, you’re so kind Ayo!”
I doubted her angles.
She continued, “And so, what do you believe in?”
“Oh well, you know, I believe in God in that He exists in three Persons: Father, Son, Spirit and that He created the world. Just what I would call the basic fundamentals of Christianity.”
Obviously my beliefs go further than the ‘basic fundamentals of Christianity’ but that was all I could come up with on the spot. My answer to that question has never been that great, spontaneously.
“That’s cool and so how does that help you?”
Okay, we get it now! Can we just wrap this up and move on with our lives? You’re clearly not interested in going out on a date with me as I previously thought, that was my mistake, so let’s just move on!
Reluctantly, I answered,
“Well, as we look at the world around us today, it’s pretty obvious that things are bad. My belief in God gives me hope that one day (when He returns) we won’t be going through these same troubles anymore and the world would be a better place.” That response was generic, but that is the hope of my belief. It gives me the confidence to look at the recent terror attacks, earthquakes, international hostility and global poverty through a different light. Yes, it’s pretty much pitch black darkness outside, but yes, there is Jesus. And He’s real! Alive! That’s what I believe. And when He comes back, justice will be dealt, tears will be swept away and the world will finally have its peace… Why didn’t I tell her that?
She didn’t grade me on my answer like I was expecting her to. Instead she asked,
“Have you heard of the Book of Mormon?”
I have. Three years before all of this, we had two Latter-day Saints knock on our door and give us a copy of the Book of Mormon. I promised them I’d read it, but I never have - which I do regret (making the promise).
“I have. Actually, we had some visitors previously give us a copy of the book.”
“Oh great! And did you ever read it?”
“No, I… didn’t get around to doing that.”
We definitely weren’t getting married anytime soon.
“Well, we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we believe in the Book of Mormon and x, y and z.”
When she said ‘we’, she pointed to her friend who was sat opposite us. To be honest, when they both came on the bus, I suspected they were sharing a purpose, but I got played. And obviously she didn’t say ‘x, y and z,’ my mind had just switched off.
Everyone believes in their own thing and I completely respect that. What I hate is when someone who believes in a different interpretation of the same God and same bible I believe in, feels the need to educate me. I’m a Christian and I don’t enforce my beliefs on anybody. That’s not the point of this religion. Of course, I might tell you what I get up to at church and even invite you along, but I will never and have never assumed any position of higher enlightenment than those around me. Why would I? We’re one and the same.
“I would love to continue this conversation,” she started as she reached her stop. “Can I get your number?”
You’re just rubbing salt in the wound now aren’t you?
Alas, I really need to work on saying no.
We exchanged numbers. There was no point giving her a fake one. She called my phone right in front of me so I would get her number too.
“Well Ayo it was really nice talking to you and hopefully we get to continue this conversation sometime!” She reached into her bag. “Oh and here’s another copy of that book. Read just the first chapter.”
“Thank you… it was great talking to you too. Have a nice day!” In all seriousness, I did actually enjoy the conversation.
The girl left the bus with her friend. I was left on the bus, alone and single.
I couldn’t have been more gracious with my response to her text later that day. Her, “how do you spell your name again, haha?” was met with a, “you spell my name like this and I don’t want to talk you anymore.” I laid the butter on thick though: my text was wrapped up in a bow of grace and gentleness.
On reflection, perhaps I should’ve accepted her invitation for conversation. But at the same time, I don’t want to be talked into situations I’m not comfortable with. This relationship I have with Jesus is not something I’m not going to let anyone else influence. Not even the girl on the bus.