When I was in college, I had the bright idea to become a schoolbus driver. For this unfortunate career decision, I blame hairspray and sex.

It was my freshman year. I lived in Oklahoma City at the time and went to a fundamentalist evangelical university. I was 18, had been dating my boyfriend for four years, and was technically still a virgin. I say “technically” in a Bill Clinton sort of way. I might even still have the dress to prove it.

The reason it was important for us to stay virgins before we got married was that premarital sex was wrong. Thinking about it was wrong. Planning for it was wrong. And doing it was definitely wrong. We were supposed to be on fire for God, not each other.

There was only one way around it: Marriage.

In marriage, we could make sweet monkey love every night and it was OK. We could stop feeling guilty for all of those crazy, out of control desires that sent us parking in a steamed over car at the edge of the Nature Reserve night after night.

Yes, Oklahoma has a nature reserve. There is nature there.

The problem with our marriage plan was that we had no money. Neither of us had jobs.

Destined to become a teen bride so that I could stop feeling guilty for wanting to have sex, I discussed the issue with my roommate, who I shall call Gloria.

Gloria was a good southern girl. She dressed in flouncy blouses, had big hair, candied nails and wore Cole Haans loafers on her feet. I was not a good southern girl. I was from Colorado. I wore flannel. I had flannel sheets. I think I even had flannel socks on under my Tevas.

On the day I moved in with Gloria, I pushed open the door to walk into a windstorm of Aqua Net.

“Oh, sorry!” called out the intended recipient. I squinted into the haze as she slowly began to take shape. “I hope I didn’t get y’all in the eye!”

I checked behind me, unaware that I wasn’t alone. With no one in the hall, I proceeded forward with caution.

I attempted to make small talk for the next several minutes while she put the finishing touches on her tightly permed chestnut locks, which basically involved repeatedly blasting them from a spectrum of angles – angles, which I knew theoretically existed from my science geeky boyfriend with whom I longed to make sweet monkey love, but perhaps in a different plane or dimension.

“Y’all should drive a school bus like I do,” she told me one morning soon after we announced our engagement. It was morning and she was getting ready for her own route. The “bus barn” was just down the street and apparently had a lot of college kids on the payroll. Good pay and good hours for students.

She whipped out the can and got to work freeze-framing her locks as she talked. I did the math. It wouldn’t take much to live on if we got a small apartment with student housing. At the time, we could get a place for $160 a month on campus. Sure it was 300 square feet and had a view of the cafeteria dumpster, but we could put up curtains. Curtains to shield us from the prying eyes of the cafeteria workers, friends, our pastor and possibly even God himself so that we could skip from room to room wearing nothing but garlands in our hair.

Lured by the thought of being able to afford a life of marital bliss, one in which coitus came freely and without guilt, Scott and I both signed up for bus driving lessons.

The leader of the bus barn – a Mr. Trumbell – took us on and led us through a workshop on how to drive a schoolbus. Mr. Trumbell was old, had Marlboro stained creases on his face and appeared to have a lifetime of red meat stored in his gut. He walked slowly and with a limp and never failed to have a plastic mug filled with Folgers within three feet of him.

Mr. Trumbell was filled with bus driver wisdom. He taught us about lug nuts and airbrakes. He taught us how to park one of those SOBs backwards into a space with only three feet on either side. He taught us how to keep kids in their seats and quiet under threat of his Folgers breath of doom.

I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift, so he assigned me to a couple of other drivers who went to our school. There was a girl and a guy. The girl was blond, beautiful and sang constantly. She was the Cinderella of the bus driving world. When she stepped outside the bus, all manner of woodland creatures whirled admiringly about her, but when she was on the bus, she was all business. My other teacher doubled as a security guard on campus where he could be seen patrolling from the front seat of a golf cart. He was a large man and went by the name “Duck” for reasons unknown to me.

“Now put it into third,” she would say before trilling into an arpeggio from the seat behind me. “Good.” Somewhere behind her, Duck would crack a joke about a driver picking her nose in the car beside us. I would grab that giant stick shift that came up out of a shaft on the floor and grind it into submission all the while thinking about how I could use that move on Scott once we were married and in our $160 a month student apartment with curtains.

Over time, I learned my new craft. I could perform a complete safety check on the engine, replace those derned lug nuts when needed and park that SOB backwards into a space so tight it would require a tub of Crisco to dislodge it. Scott and I got our CDLs, passed our busdriver tests, and started our intern routes. Everything was going along smoothly until one day, Scott was turning left at an intersection and crunched the car next to him like a can of grape Fanta.

Mr. Trumbell was level headed about it, but explained to him that he couldn’t have brand new drivers on his payroll who had already had an accident involving kids. He let him go. Scott was real cool about it. He never let on for one second that this might postpone a chandelier swinging encounter or two. No worries, I thought. Scott would get something else by way of work, and I would pick up the slack. With only one month before we could strap harnesses onto ourselves and swing naked like Julianne Moore in The Big Lebowski over the canvas of our love, we were not about to let this little roadblock stop us. Finally, the day came for Mr. Trumbell to hand out our route schedules for the following year. He called me into his office and had me sit facing him, his Marlboro scented Folgers breath reaching out to me across his desk like tentacles.

“We just ain’t got nothing for you this semester,” explained Mr. Trumbell. “And anyway, I got plenty of drivers on a waiting list already. Ones who ain’t been in no accidents, neither.”

I sat breathing through my mouth, blinking at him.

“But I wasn’t in an accident. Scott was.” He shrugged.

“If I can’t give him a job, then I can’t give you one, neither.”

I was stunned. I walked away, tears burning in my eyes. Our teen wedding was planned and waiting for us upon our return home and we weren’t going to be able to afford peanut butter, let alone oysters. It was a disaster. What was I supposed to do with all that training? What use were lug nuts and stick shifts without curtains and a front door?

This was all Gloria’s fault. Gloria, with her nails that looked like Fun Dip and her huge hair that had to be held into place by industrial size hair spray cans. I had tried not to inhale, hiding under the sheets in the morning while she got ready to filter out the fumes, but those sheets were only 100-thread count because I couldn’t afford higher.

And who is to say that better sheets would have helped, anyway? Would they have truly filtered out the madness? Would Egyptian cotton have saved my soul? 

TAGS: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ERIKA RAE is the author of Devangelical, a humor memoir about growing up Evangelical (Emergency Press, December, 2012). She is editor-in-chief at Scree Magazine and nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown. Erika earned her MA in Lit­er­a­ture and Lin­guis­tics from the Uni­ver­sity of Hong Kong and to this day can ask where the bath­room is in Can­tonese, although it is likely that she will not under­stand the answer. In her dream world, she fan­cies her­self a kung fu mas­ter clev­erly dis­guised as a gen­tle moun­tain dweller, eagerly antic­i­pat­ing dan­ger at the bot­tom of every latte. When she is not whipping one of her 3 children and denying them bread with their broth, she runs an ISP with her husband from their home in the Colorado Rockies.

91 responses to “I Smell Sex and Hairspray”

  1. Irene Zion says:

    Erika Rae,
    I had a plan like that so my high school boyfriend and I could get married and have sex. We would take the old couch from my parent’s “sun parlor.” Actually, that’s as far as we got. He was already in college and I went to college and actually, I totally forgot him. Lucky we didn’t get married for the sake of sex, eh?

    Your sex plan was ever so much more interesting. Driving a school bus and the target of your love doing the same to make enough money for a place to stay. I never even got to thinking about a place to stay. I just wanted the couch. You really thought it through. I’m impressed. Mr. Marlboro and Folgers Trumbell was not fair at all to fire you because Scott had a wreck.

    I’m curious. Did you end up with Scott?
    (You can erase that part, if you don’t want to say.)

    • Erika Rae says:

      And…where were you going to take the sun couch?

      And yes, stayed with Scott. 16.5 years of marriage that drivers license has earned me thus far.

      Sidenote: I went into HR at some point in my career (after the schoolbus driving aspirations, that is.) Mess with me now, Trumbell. Hehehe.

      • Irene Zion says:

        Wow! Erika Rae!

        You and your High School boyfriend stuck it out!

        This is both rare and impressive.

        Wait. Now that I think on it, my best neighborhood friend is still married to her HS boyfriend, and one of the girls I really liked in my school is also. Humn.

        I was WAY too immature, as you can see by my plan only including a couch that we really didn’t have permission for anyway, and no place to put it. I did have the sex planned, however. Never happened though, cause we weren’t married, (the prerequisite.)

        • Erika Rae says:

          Um, yeah. We were also way too immature. If any of my kids announce intention toward a teen wedding, I am buying them a box of condoms, a Barry White album and a weekend for two in Cozumel. And if that doesn’t get it out of their systems, I am moving them to Canada in full shackles immediately.

  2. Anon says:

    Oh, Erika. I don’t even know where to begin (aside from the usual but sincere “Thank you for sharing it.”). I grew up in a large, New England metro area, in a Roman Catholic family. Religion to us meant just another box to check on a census form and access to a private school system instead of the public one, which was little more than gladiator training for the prison system. “God” was a Mafia don. You showed respect, you did like his lieutenants told you and – most important – you paid your vig every Sunday and nobody had to, like, maybe accidentally fall in a lake of fire for eternity. Sex? He didn’t care, as long as you weren’t using the weekly offerings budget for condoms.

    And, speaking if which, I saw your previous comment re: jinxing yourself about no further pregnancies. There are certain procedures that be performed, you know. Granted, it cuts into (no pun) the swinging monkey love for a week or two but it’s well-worth it, in my book. You can compensate for the time later. Like, everywhere. Any time. Just sayin’.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Good idea, but we STILL don’t have any money. Can’t afford said surgery. Why don’t writers have patrons anymore? I need a patron.

      • Anon says:

        Sigh. Well, I *was* saving up to help Zara drive “Alice” completely out of her gourd but vengeance takes a back seat to sex. Actually, vengeance sex in a back seat…. Ah. Never mind. Digressing again.

        Get some bids, post a mailing address and I’ll see what I can do for you.

        • Erika Rae says:

          I’ll bet vengeance sex in the back of a school bus is even better.

          Actually, no. I take that back. Ick.

          I’ll be in touch.

        • Anon says:

          I’ll be standing by, incredibly annoyed that I typed “speaking if” instead of “speaking of” in my initial reply. That’s what I get for commenting from a netbook while sitting in the sun outside a café – couldn’t see a blessed thing half the time.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Shithole life you lead, sir.

          As of!

        • Anon says:

          Ha. The grass is always greener, you sex fiend. Having the most gloriously appointed cell on death row does not change your status of “prisoner”. But it allows me to provide for my family and to offer patronage to artists so I shoulder my burden and trudge on.

          Though it was pretty friggin’ nice out. And the double-espresso was on the house (I can be quite charming in person). Meh.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Sounds like YOU have a patron.

        • Anon says:

          Nah. Just a charmed life. Kinda-sorta.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Are you always online?

        • Anon says:

          Only when I’ve been drinking and am desperately looking for some “I am a grownup, dammit!” time. Or when I’m at work.

          Um, this is the former case, in case you were wondering.

        • Anon says:

          Thanks for asking.

        • Erika Rae says:

          So, what do you drink when you want to be a grownup, dammit?

          I can’t remember what I drink when I want to be a grownup. I can’t even remember what I do when I want to be a grownup. I think it involves sleep, though. And even then, the under-four-feet-tall brigade shakes me back to reality at some point.

        • Anon says:

          This evening, it’s a nice chilled Chateau St. Michelle… after the earlier bottle of Le Cinciole chianti. My son is in “screaming nightmare mode” so I figured I’ll just wait him out – online, for my entertainment – until he settles down for hopefully a two or three hour block of sleep before he starts up again. Regardless, he’ll be up for the morning ~ 0500. Yay, parenthood.

        • Anon says:

          Oh! I am getting a little fuzzy, aren’t I? The Chateau St. Michelle is a chilled sauvignon blanc. I know mixing red and white is supposed to be a no-no but I worked out between them so I think that makes it okay or something.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Ha! Red and white makes rose, which is also a kind of wine, so I think it’s OK. You’re good.

          How’s that head this morning?

          Dammit, though. I love Chateau St. Michelle. I also just so happen to love chianti. Send me some virtually?

        • Anon says:

          That head, since you asked, is wretched – though the wine had nothing to do with it. My son, the male banshee, was kind enough to give me four whole hours before launching into his standing-in-the-crib-shrieking-to-wake-the-dead routine. Sleep was pretty elusive for me after that – although the little bugger is napping peacefully as I type. I suppose I should mention that my daughter has decided that this is the morning to try bowling for the first time, too.

          Yeah. Funny. Thankfully, “Mrs. Anon” is taking the tribe to Costco tomorrow morning ~ 10:00ish to give me a few hours to myself. God willing, those hours will pass without my conscious presence.

          Is it permissible to send something to the email that announces your replies in my Inbox? Virtual vino is tricky.

  3. Matt says:

    You know, I was about to say “That’s a lot of work for some sweet monkey love,” but that’s really not a true statement, is it? Doesn’t matter what kind of hoops they are, we all cheerfully jump through dozens of them just for a little time in the sack.

    I’m glad, traffic accident aside, that everything worked out for you two.

    Also, Mr. Trumbell was an asshole.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Yeah, he was!

      And repression is good for stamina and perseverance, at least.

      Surely you’ve been through a few hoops in your life? Hm?

      • Matt says:

        Oh, yes. Since I think–with the litany of new posts we seem to get on a daily basis–you might have missed this when I put it up the other week: http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/mbaldwin/2010/01/the-first-time-before-the-first-time/

        And I’m sure I’ll be jumping through a few more. Ringling Bros. ought to hire me.

        • Erika Rae says:

          I DID miss that one! I’m going there now…

        • Erika Rae says:

          That was an awesome post. Loved it.

          Since you brought up the traffic accident, I should mention that the reason I wrote this little piece in the first place was that Scott hit wrecked another schoolbus the other day. This time, however, he was not driving the bus (which was actually a white Suburban acting as a mountain schoolbus). He just slid on down the ice cascade that is our driveway and plowed right into the rear left fender. He’s had exactly two accidents in his life (if you don’t count the mailbox incident) – both involving schoolbuses.

          Children, be warned.

  4. Zara Potts says:

    The road to true love and marriage started with a bus! I love it.

  5. Her nails looked like Fun Dip!! hahahahahaha…. Oh man, I learned how to drive a stick shift in a factory. There was this little three-gear car and a whole train of cars. It was crazy. I was driving the Fiberglas train!!

  6. I love that ‘sweet monkey love’ is a tag on this post. You have no idea how much I love that.

    “Lured by the thought of being able to afford a life of marital bliss, one in which coitus came freely and without guilt, Scott and I both signed up for bus driving lessons.”

    I wonder if that’s why all school bus drivers get into it?

  7. josie says:

    Doggone that Gloria. Just think of all that bus stuff taking up space in your brain where you could be storing the advanced positions of tantra. What a waste.

    Funny how powerful sex can be at motivating you to take avenues you wouldn’t have otherwise taken. I think that’s why the church tries to keep it on lockdown. God only knows what crazy monkey sex having people will do!

    At least you didn’t take Gloria’s fashion advice.

    • Erika Rae says:

      I credit repression almost entirely for any creativity I now possess.

      Gloria was quite the fashion maven. I remember her and her friends sneaking through our room before the sun was up so they could pick out their outfits for the day by sifting through each other’s closets. They rarely even opened mine to peek inside. One time I heard my door being opened in the dark and then some whispering. “Well, she’s from Colorado,” was all I heard. Heh.

  8. wood romper says:

    It’s funny to think about our shared memories of that time and place. Here I thought you were driving buses to save for missionary trips – not positions! um yeah. and there I was, dappling in flannel-wear, guitars, and indigo girls way before I knew where THAT would lead me…ah, nothing puts the ‘evil’ in EVangelIcaL like extreme sexual frustration and repression. keep up the great writin’, lady!

    • Erika Rae says:

      HAHAHA – I never even earned a dime from schoolbus driving. Had I, I would have put everything I had into my plan to have sex. And I was right there with you all the way with the flannel, guitar strummin’ and Indigo Girls. I’m guessing my plan for marital bliss must be what kept me straight, ‘cuz Lord knows all the other signs of the pendulum were there. I was just too dang *distracted* to think about making out with my best friend. Which, you know, you would have been the first had I been so inclined. Heh.

      Wood Romper. If it burns…

  9. Richard Cox says:

    I know I’m reading excellent prose when so many good lines jump out that I don’t know which one to pick. For now I’ll go with “…crunched the car next to him like a can of grape Fanta.”

    I’m sorry you lived in Oklahoma at some point. I’ve been here longer than I care to admit, but it won’t be forever. My list of next destinations is short: Austin, New York, Phoenix, Carmel, and Boulder (really!). Although I’ll admit that Tulsa is surprising and nothing like Oklahoma City. There is actual beauty and culture here, if you can believe that.

    You have a lot of old posts, and I’m sorry to say I haven’t read them all, but I’ve worked my way through a few. I’m fascinated by evangelical Christianity and belief systems in general. I was raised Catholic, the intensity of which ebbed and flowed based on my mother’s guilt at the time. I don’t know how “recovered” you are, but my beliefs began eroding quickly by age 14 or so. All I did is apply the same logic as when I was eight and worked out the math for Santa Claus. You know, something just didn’t add up.

    All of my family and many of my friends are religious in varying degrees. I identify with their beliefs even if I don’t personally share them. I recently finished my next novel, Doubting Thomas, where the protagonist has a sort of reverse religious experience and begins to believe he is living in a simulated world where he is the main character. Or he’s schizophrenic. In any case, the idea of a possible simulated world gave me a lot of free reign to explore the idea of an a Creator (“The Guy,” I call him) who isn’t really God the way we think of Him. And his wife is named Gloria. Haha.

    Thanks for the post. I love reading these stories from your evangelical past. They’re well-told and informative. And congratulations on 16 1/2 years of marriage. That’s fantastic!

    • Erika Rae says:

      I would love Doubting Thomas. It sounds like I am the perfect demographic for it, too. Is it out in print?

      As for Oklahoma, I lived in OKC for a total of 8 years. Crazy! I was there when the bomb went off, I’m afraid. Southern Nazarene University. May the Lord have mercy on my soul. Tulsa is just as you say – superior in every way. I have a couple of friends who still live there.

      It’s funny you say you’re fascinated by evangelicalism. I’m fascinated by Catholicism! Write me when you come through Boulder. I’d love to meet up with you over coffee.

      • Richard Cox says:

        It’s not in print yet, no. I just finished the most recent draft a week or so ago.

        Southern Nazarene, eh? Did you have any friends from ORU? Did you ever drive over to see our giant, praying hands?

        I guess whatever you’re familiar with doesn’t seem interesting or exotic, because Catholicism seems boring to me. I’ll fill you in the next time I make it to Colorado. Feels like I’m there right now with all this snow.

        • Erika Rae says:

          I remember meeting ORU people, but I can’t really say I had friends that went there.

          Oh those hands. It’s been years since I’ve seen them. They make an impression.

          Funny, we’re a bit low on the snow right now. And I’m at 9000 ft!

        • Richard Cox says:

          We’re heavy with the snow, and only at 770 feet. Must be something with the 850mb jet stream and moisture wrapping around the back side of the low pressure system. Or something.

          Or it could simply have been the ORU hands of God.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Good Lord. Are you a meteorologist? You know too much. I believe those hands are big enough to mess with the weather patterns. They probably cut through the jet stream like an atmospheric wedge.

    • Scott says:

      It really did feel like crushing a can of grape Fanta.

  10. Stefan Kiesbye says:

    What a funny and smart piece, Erica! This “technically” business is really hilarious. Christianity is such a funny religion of finding ways around all the rules and taboos. Such mad creativity!

    • Erika Rae says:

      Thank you kindly for the compliment, Stefan.

      Definitions have always been important to me. It’s probably why I ended up studying linguistics. I was a pain in the butt in my Bible classes because I was always trying to deconstruct various verses and ideas. At some point, it occurred to me that every single uttered or written word is colored by the speaker/writer, the translator(s) and the reader. This was a revolutionary idea for me coming from a background in which each word of the Bible was considered infallible. Which version? Which interpretation? I’ve never been the same since. It’s quite freeing, actually.

  11. Angela Tung says:

    so many things made me laugh – that you were technically a virgin in a Bill Clinton sort of way, a liftetime of red meat stored in his gut, the Cinderella-like driver. terrific!

    • Erika Rae says:

      She was seriously straight out of a Disney movie. She was constantly singing. And she really did have an amazing voice – it was just, um, weird.

      Glad to give you a chuckle.

  12. You know I have a special fondness for your husband because of the “I love my geek” post, but I had no idea you guys were h.s. sweethearts and each other’s first! Goodness, this gets cuter by the minute. I think I have to go lie down.
    And again, I can’t wait to meet you for TNBLE: Denver!

  13. Don Mitchell says:

    This is a great piece, Erika. And it does pair nicely with Matt’s.

    Freeze-framing her locks. No girls dorm for me, but I know what you mean. Can see it and smell it.

    I like the “technical” part very much. It took me a long, long time to understand that when my high school girlfriend would take off her bra but not her pants, or her pants but not her bra, that it was so that, technically, she could say she had never been naked with me. I though it was just a quirk.

    In Pat Barker’s WW I Regeneration trilogy (Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, The Ghost Road) there’s an absolutely wonderful scene in which Billy Prior and his girlfriend (both quite adult) have managed to get a condom and are trying to use it — they have almost no time before a mother (or aunt?) comes home. I think it’s in The Ghost Road, but I’m not sure. It’s hilarious.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Technicalities are very important, Don – especially when attempting to avoid the fires of Hell. When Clinton made his famous statement, I totally got it. Understood completely. One question about the girlfriend, though – wouldn’t it have worked to leave on a sock or something?

      I hate condoms.

  14. D.R. Haney says:

    If only I could’ve had you driving my school bus, Erika. That would’ve made the experience almost bearable.

    One of my aunts, now dead, drove a school bus for a while. She was enormous, and I imagine she could have crunched a car like a can of grape Fanta simply by stepping on one.

    Meanwhile, I trust your chandeliers are sturdy.

    • Erika Rae says:

      When I was training, I distinctly remember stopping to pick up some kids. The regular driver (Cinderella) was in the seat behind me. One girl in the pack stopped halfway up the steps when she caught sight of me in the driver’s seat. “Uh-uh!” She said. (She was probably 8 years old) “How old are you? You’re not old enough to drive this bus! My sister’s older than you, and she’s only 13.” She then backtracked to stand back down on the curb until Cindy finally convinced her that I was, indeed, “older than her sister.”

      I was a miserable failure as a bus driver.

      Funny you should ask about the chandelier. Fastened to the supporting beams above the bed by steel posts. Ha!

  15. Can’t wait to read your book.

  16. Ducky Wilson says:

    Really funny, Erika. I love your description of Mr. Trumbell.

    “He taught us about lug nuts and airbrakes. He taught us how to park one of those SOBs backwards into a space with only three feet on either side. He taught us how to keep kids in their seats and quiet under threat of his Folgers breath of doom.”

    Folgers breath of doom – I wish I didn’t have experience with this.

    My Grandfather uses SOB a lot. He whispers it, too. He’ll be talking in a normal tone, then he’ll get to that word and lean in really close and whisper it. Cracks me up.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Oh, that’s funny. He whispers SOB. Like he’s got a library friendly version of Turret’s. Ha! I’m going to try to bring that acronym back into my daily speech. That and “sumbitch,” which Slade Ham so graciously brought back for us recently.

  17. Lenore says:

    you know, sometimes i think i was lucky that i grew up in central illinois, because there wasn’t a single person in the entire town who i wanted to have sex with. if i’d have grown up in a bigger city, i’d probably have like seven baby daddies.

    but also, you are too pretty to be having sweet monkey sex. that sounds yucky, and you are not yucky. just thought i’d throw that out there.

  18. As soon as I read ‘Aqua-Net’ I could smell it. Now I’m going to be smelling it all night. Such is the curse of being from the Aqua Net generation. I instantly recalled a few college girl friends who bought it in six packs. Wow. Despite this setback I enjoyed your piece very much. I came to the conclusion that God is behind all bad teenage marriages. Thank goodness I was raised by atheists tho I suppose if I’m wrong and there is a vengeful God, I’ll be toasting for awhile in the afterlife.

    But don’t despair, I don’t think bus driving is all it’s cracked up to be. It’s just been glamorized by Hollywood and dime store novels. Thanks for that slice of life.

    • Erika Rae says:

      That’s because Aqua Net molecules embed themselves permanently in one’s nasal cavity. They are never truly gone. Oh, that stuff was (and is) hideous. But it was a requirement for that tidal wave of bangs that we all needed in the late 80s to early 90s. Well, maybe YOU didn’t require it, but you know what I mean.

      I’m laughing at the glamorization of bus driving by Hollywood. Hehe. Have you ever watched South Park?

  19. jmblaine says:

    I really love the way you tell your stories
    and there’s a sweetness to the crunch
    and I’ll tell you the rest later

    • Erika Rae says:

      I was granola then, and I am granola today.

      I liked the rest. It was nice. It’s good to laugh at our embarrassing and shaky pasts. The key is how to lift ourselves from the rubble. How to retain faith? How to redefine faith in many cases? How to not become jaded or bitter?

  20. Marni Grossman says:

    When I was a camp counselor, I was in charge on bus 8. And, believe me, nothing’s worse than being stuck on a bus with a handful of adolescents.

    Have you ever put your bus driver’s license to use?

    • Erika Rae says:

      Bus 8! There are stories there, I’ll bet. And oh – you had adolescents…I feel for you. That just sounds *shudder* horrid.

      Nope. I never put that CDL to use. Not even once. I even offered to drive the church bus once, but no one would take me seriously.

  21. I so love that you married Scott. I mean, the bus story is amusing and all, sure, but I read the beginning and was thinking, “Ah, yeah. Monkey love. The relationship that ends shortly before 21, so that either party can take full advantage of drunken one-night stands.”

    And ah, religious guilt. I’ve become less fascinated by religion as by belief. The ones we hold and what shapes them. So much feels like myth, and I’m not sure that’s bad except for the literal belief part of it. It’s obvious the stories are important.

  22. “We were supposed to be on fire for God, not each other.” Oh man, how I looooove that line. You made my morning start happy…

    • Erika Rae says:

      So much of our games in the Youth Group were sex-replacement oriented, I’m quite sure. After Sunday night church, we’d even go out to get ice cream or something – an activity we called an “Afterglow.”

  23. Gloria says:

    “This was all Gloria’s fault.”

    I think that’s going to be the name of my new book.

    Erika, this was so much fun to read. Your Julianne Moore/The Big Lebowski reference made me chuckle heartily.

    Your description of the Marlboro-Folgers Man at the end made me think of Randy Quaid’s character in Brokeback Mountain.

    Out of curiosity, how long after this story did you guys actually get married.

  24. […] ERIKA RAE: Sex & hairspray […]

  25. thea longley says:

    Hi Erika – guess I’m a few months late with this comment but just come across yr piece on the schoolbus driving – some great writing there but also some great comments.
    But it strikes me the bosses were so sexist – that guy claiming he couldn’t give YOU a job cos of Scott’s accident?
    I’ve done my share of minibus and campervan driving and I may not be the world’s best driver (“may not be” haha) but I know I cope a lot better than any guy does.
    When I was changing the stick down going up a notorious local hill and it grinded [ground?], some stupid little boy said “Russell’s a better driver than u Thea, he doesn’t make those noises”. I pointed out that Russell has had 4 accidents in the minibus, including a write-off in the centre of Philadelphia. The kid went quiet!
    Good luck Erika!

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