Whose line is it anyway?

I don’t know why I remember that particular line, but I do, and I think it’s funny. I think it’s funny that I remember it, and I think it’s a funny line. Maybe I remember it because I caught myself by surprise with my witty answer. It was almost as if I didn’t realize what I had said until I heard the words come out of my mouth.

Jäähalli.

Or maybe that whole trip was such an adventure and that’s the reason it stuck to my mind. Or maybe it’s a combination of things. Maybe the fact that I’ve told this story a few times over the years has made it a memorable one.

Anyway, as a kid, I was a regular at the Helsinki hockey arena. There are two teams in Helsinki and back then, they shared the arena, and Dad and I went to both teams’ games so I was there every week. Most often with Dad, or Mom and Dad – one season, Mom had tickets to every single game played in the arena – but hardly ever alone, or with a friend.

After all, I was just ten years old, and it was dark, and the games didn’t end until nine or so, and, well, Dad was going anyway.

But one time, this one particular time, I was at the game with a buddy of mine. He was my teammate and he was my classmate, so he happened to live in the same Helsinki suburb that I did. After the game, we took the bus home. It was easy enough. The bus stop was right outside the arena, and it was a short walk home from the stop at the other end of the line. The problem was that a few thousand people wanted to get on the same bus, but somehow we managed to get in, even if we had to stand.

I remember feeling mighty cool, riding the bus with a buddy, on my own. We talked about the game, and about our heroes, and about school – a little – and before I knew it, we were close to home, and even though I can’t remember why he would have stayed on the bus after me, but he was going to ride it one stop longer or something.

I was supposed to press the red button to let the driver know I wanted the bus to stop, but because I was standing in the middle, and because that particular bus only had buttons on the ceiling, and because I was short, I couldn’t reach it.

My buddy looked at me, amused, and then asked me if he should do it.

I said yes, and he pressed the button.

“Sometimes I wonder where you’d end up without me,” he said with a smirk on his face.

And that’s when I said:

“Apparently, the end of the line for bus number 69,” I said.

My friend laughed, and I jumped out of the bus.

So good. Still so good.

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