The Man with the Handlebar Mustache

mustache man

(photo by Darrell Miller)

Ascending the escalator towards Gate 224 was a gentleman in a pin-striped navy suit jacket, lemony linen shorts and boat shoes. We stood on the same line for the express bus.

He turned around, looking in the direction of hopefully soon-to-be oncoming buses, and said, “What do you think will come next, a 162 or 163T?”

There was a mischievous twinkle in his eye, as if we were playing a game. His white handlebar mustache and round greenish-brown-tinted sunglasses added to his mystique.

I smiled and said, “I don’t know. I leave it to you.”

“I predict it will be a 162: they usually follow the 144.”

He had the mien of George Plimpton or Peter O’Toole: the height, the long limbs, the carriage, the comfort in his own skin. Underneath the jacket he wore a button-down dress shirt and delicately patterned pink bow tie.

Within five minutes, the 162 bus barreled through. The gentleman turned around at me and smiled. I smiled back.

“You were right!” I said.

No smugness in his victory, only playfulness and fun.

I wondered about him—did he own a yacht, why did he live in New Jersey, why would a man like him take the bus?

A young man standing between us on line turned to me and said, “Do you want to sit together?”

“No, we don’t know each other,” I said.

The gentleman exited the bus in Hackensack. I didn’t picture him as a Hackensack resident. He seemed more a Cherry Hill sort, but that’s another bus line. A Billy Joel line ran through my head, “Who needs a house out in Hackensack, is that all you get for your money?”

People continue to amaze me. I suppose that’s a good thing.