Hello, young man! By all means, up the stairs you go. You may sit either thah or thah. I’m your new school bus driver, Jeremy Irons. You may call me Jeremy Irons. Or, if you prefer, Sir Jeremy Irons, as you might as well become accustomed to it now. Yes, I’m permanently replacing Miss Suzie. No, I have no idea what happened to her.

Can you feel my breath?

Say, let’s get to know each other a little. What do you like to do for fun? You seem like a chess man. Or maybe fencing. Neither? Hmmm, curious.

What do I like to do for fun? Well, how much time have you got? Seventeen minutes I suppose. Ha! I do enjoy a rousing game of badminton of course. And for reasons that should be obvious, I’m also a passionate supporter of the theatah and cinema. But mostly I like to silently peer out from the shadows. That’s my favorite.

I can sense that you’re experiencing an imperceptible shift in your school-bus experience since you climbed those stairs. Imperceptible to everyone else, that is, but not to me. Do you think you’ll have trouble sleeping tonight? Just curious.

No, no, please don’t move towards the door whilst the bus is in motion. That’s not safe.

At this point you might be feeling an inexplicable desire to understand me while at the same time never wanting to see me again. I can tell that you’re being whipsawed by revulsion and curiosity, a confusing seesaw of emotion if ever there was one. At the same time you probably wouldn’t object to me reading you a story about a bunny family that just can’t seem to stay out of trouble, correct? This is all to be expected. It’s perfectly normal.

Do you like school? I for one only enjoyed school when I could focus on Shakespeare or my equestrian skills. Do they have that sort of thing at your school? What in God’s name is speed stacking? Sounds dreadful.

I’m guessing your little heart is beating against your rib cage right now, as if you were a frightened common swift that I was holding gingerly in my hand. But don’t be afraid. I’m not as strange as you might think. Or am I?

Look, not to get ahead of myself, but when we find ourselves at the end of the school year, please don’t invite me to your class field day or barbecue. As mentioned previously I prefer to constantly be in shadow—as I’m doing right at this moment. Although the luxurious red velvet curtain that I’ve installed on my side window here and partially across the windshield is undoubtedly against safety regulations and is placing us all in grave danger, it’s crucial that I have it.

Also: I have the utmost confidence that my agent included this detail in my school-bus-driver rider. “Driver rider.” That’s funny, no? Ha!

What’s that, dear boy? What’s an agent?

You. Have. No. Idea.

Back to my original point, any parties that take place in full sun are out. And I will not be available for chaperoning field trips other than those that are directly to the theatah and back and without side trips to foolish places like ice cream stands or playgrounds. Thank you in advance for understanding.

You seem like you’re in a hurry. Are we late? Shouldn’t you wait until we’ve come to a complete stop in front of your school? Oh, okay, off you go. See you tomorrow?

Say hello to your mother for me! No, she doesn’t know me. But she will.


Illustration by Robin Holstein