Me and the Funky Bunch

August 31, 2009 | By | Add a Comment


There was a curious kid I rode the bus with when I was in seventh grade.  There was him and the most beautiful girl in the eighth grade, who, for whatever reason, loved sitting next to me during those long and bumpy morning rides.  And then, there was the music from the bus radio.  There was Jam’n 94.5 with Marky Mark and the Real McCoy and some young hipster singing about Rhythm being a Dancer.  There was the New England fall with sticks and swamps and meadows.  There were mountains and hills.  There was the morning dew on the countryside and streams and lakes and more water of all different sorts.  Everything about it was a variety of awesome that could make your heart a bonfire.  It could make you light up the room.

We had conversations.  The three of us did.  Actually, there were four of us if you count the music.  I motion that the music be counted.  It was as much a part of me as the air I breathed and water I consumed.  We were a little society.  We had a group so unique and wonderful.  I mean it when I say that we cared about each other.  I really mean it.  There were never any fights or arguments.  There was a quality so innocent and special that it could break your heart just thinking about it.  We never had to work at love.  It flowed like water coming out of a faucet.  It sprung up from some place deep inside.

Which is why, it is both bizarre and fascinating to me that I never even knew that dude’s name.  Don’t get me wrong, I asked for his name all the time.  Our conversations went like this:

me: What is your name?
him: Pudding-tang.  Ask me again and I’ll tell you the same.

After a while, I gave up trying.  His name was… Pudding-tang?  I suppose he might have told us his real name at one point, but Pudding-tang is the only one I remember.

It wasn’t long afterward that he told us he would be gone the next day.  He said that his family was moving.  It came so far out of the blue, we assumed that he couldn’t be serious.  After all, he was a bit of a jokester and we really hadn’t known anyone to just take off like that in the middle of the school year.  Besides, where was he supposed to go?

The following morning didn’t look too much different.  The most beautiful girl in the eighth grade was still there.  The scenery was the same.  The Funky Bunch had hung around.  I doubt anyone else on that bus even noticed someone was missing.  But, as for the most beautiful girl in the eighth grade and the shy boy so full of blessing and wonder – we felt the absence.  Pudding-tang was gone.

When she realized he had been telling the truth, the most beautiful girl in the eighth grade turned to me and said she was sad.

“Me, too”, I said.  “Me, too”.

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