Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Get On The Bus


Today was a slice of little Benny heaven: warm temperatures, big dinosaurs and four very noisy buses. Spring fever hit me with a 2x4 this afternoon and sent Benny and I rolling down the sidewalk.

Our mission: the No. 8 bus to downtown Ann Arbor. Benny, who'd spent his entire naptime singing songs in the bedroom, was hyped up on apple juice and cookies. He rode in his stroller, eyes rolling, yelling "Bus! Bus Stop!" at the top of his lungs. Even after three years in San Francisco and one year in Prague, I still can't read a bus schedule properly. Somewhere a pack of map designers cackle madly as they sketch route drawings placing north on the bottom and east on the left. "This'll get her," they snicker.

But lo, a bus arrives precisely at 2:07 and we're on our way. The crowded bus forces us to sit near the back on the left-hand side and Benny now insists on those exact seats each time we board a bus. We stop at the bank, the post office, the book store, with Benny providing a running commentary like Howard Cosell. I just nod and try to remember that we wanted him to talk.

We stop for pastries at Cafe Felix -- well, I eat the pastries. Benny sneers at his blueberry muffin and demands Goldfish crackers. So I eat the muffin and the chocolate tart and the squishy jam thing. "Have another cracker," I tell Benny as I lick icing off my fingers.

Newly forified, we catch the No. 2 to the University of Michigan's natural history museum. It's dark and dusty and bereft of "hands on" educational strategies, but we like it. No kicky videos or foam dinosaur nests, but it's got some big mastadon skeletons and a giant freaky fish fossil with fangs and armored plates. Benny counts the toes on the allosaurus and stares at the triceratops skeleton half-buried in the sand, felled by a predator. "Look, it's sleeping," Benny says.


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