Only love counts, thought Knuth, summoning up all his courage when he approached a reader on the bus. At that time, his heart almost slipped into his pants. We rediscovered Knuth's five-year-old text in the blog archive. We thought we'd bring it back for Valentine's Day. You can now find out how his flirtation turned out on the blog.
I didn't care if I was late for school. I was just waiting for the reader. For days I have been watching her on the bus. She was on time again now and got on. She always sat in the back of the bus in a two-seater right by the window and read. Nothing seemed to distract her, neither was she interested in the traffic, nor did the commotion on the bus upset her. Sometimes she pushed her hair slightly behind her ears and her lips moved slightly as she read along quietly with the words. There was something distinguished about her dark hair, her pallor, and her delicacy that intimidated me a little. She, like me, was still going to school and studying on the way there. She paid no attention to me, always passing me by and disappearing. She kept to herself and seemed unreachable.
In the meantime I had found out that we both attended the same school. I puzzled over what kind of woman she was, I imagined then that she was French or Spanish. The reader accompanied my thoughts, no matter what I did, she was always there. Weekends became torture for me because I didn't see her and I could hardly wait for Monday to go to school with her again. I could have just approached her, but my problem as a trained class clown was that something was missing from my repertoire: How do I approach a proud woman?
I just made a joke. She had to laugh.
As a class clown, I often found that women tended to go for the determined, successful or strong men. The cowboys, sports heroes, wolves, rebels or other cool dogs got the women. One stupid joke could have ruined everything. There was too much at stake, but I didn't want to give up on them either. I tried to put myself in the game as a "serious man," and since I also read a lot, I thought I could impress her as a reader. I was in my Russian phase then and actually believed I could impress her with Gogol. Nothing happened. Worked zero. No reaction. I'm not sure, maybe I would have had more success with Proust or with Irving at that time. I was at a loss.
One afternoon I was back on the bus with some classmates, using the ride home as our stage and fooling around. Among the passengers was my reader. I had spotted her too late and thought that was it. Over and out. No more chance. Now another cowboy will come and snatch her away, I thought. Some silent guy, sitting in the corner, standing up, carrying her out, protecting her from the bozos who were just entertaining the whole bus. But I saw how her book was lying in her lap, she was looking out of the window and kept smiling at us. The next day, I mustered up all my courage and finally approached her. I just made a joke. She had to laugh.
From that day on, things went better for me. We talked now whenever we saw each other, whether on the bus or in the schoolyard. Later, we dated, went out together and became a couple. The reader is my wife today. I love her. She is my savior. Without her, I might be working in a comic store today, eating cold pizza and performing as a fire-eater at medieval festivals.
Knuth Kung Shing Stein is a founding member of SoSUE and supports other brands. He himself describes his work as "something with media". The Hamburg native would love to move to a mountain with a beach. Learn more about Knuth on his website Collideor and Scope.