One of the best things I ever saw on a bus was on a late-night 9X from North Beach to Market Street. I sat up toward the front. The driver was a very pretty young black woman.
A scruffy white guy got on. No, not really scruffy. He was a beatnik. That was the way you looked if you were a North Beach Beatnik. Never mind that the Beatniks had supposedly died off about sixty years ago.
He was in his fifties, tall and skinny. He sat down just behind the driver and pulled a saxophone out of a plastic bag, shoved it into his beard, and played jazz riffs. He was good. He slipped into “Melancholy Baby.” When he was finished he asked the driver, “Is it ok if I play another tune?”
I thought she might have been tired, cranky, had already driven for hours, and didn’t need any more stimulation, thank you. Instead she tossed a beautiful smile over her shoulder and said, “Sure! What you got?”
The guy lit up. He jumped into “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,” “Night In Tunisia,” and something else I can’t remember.
The guy stopped and asked the driver again if it was alright if he played some more, and she nodded and grinned and said, “Sure!”
The guy was bubbling over by now and he asked the driver if she had a request. “I know ‘em all!” he said.
Well we all know by now what happens when a guy says that. The lady thought for a moment, then named a tune. Naturally, the guy didn’t know it and apologized four or five times. Then he brightened and jumped into “Let’s Do It,” a favorite of mine.
Wouldn’t you know it? Just as he started getting into it we had reached the BART stop and I had to hop off right in the middle of his riff. As I got out the front door I glanced at the driver. That lovely person was grinning from ear-to-ear.