“I’m a walking nightmare, an arsenal of doom
I kill conversation as I walk into the room
I’m a three line whip
I’m the sort of thing they ban
I’m a walking disaster
I’m a demolition man”
It was a bright and shiny Thursday afternoon and I was in my normal routine. I arrived at my Starbucks du jour prepared for my three o’clock feeding. My no fat, no foam, double tall decaf pumpkin spice latte was practically made when I walked in the door. There are advantages to becoming a creature of habit.
I had been talking with one of the many underage barista’s one day and the topic somehow led to her only accepting booty calls via text messaging. The learning never stops. Funny how people come to know and refer to you by a somewhat unique nomenclature…
“Text message guy!” – The level of cheer I was greeted with was slightly higher than needed – making it par for this particular course. “I’m assuming you want your usual?”
“I do Darlin’. Thanks. You know my theory – If it ain’t broken…”
“…don’t fix it!” She winked at me while nailing the punch line. Our little ritual seems to endear her far more than it annoys me, so I keep with it.
Ah Bill. If you were any smoother… Yeah – not so much. It’s a good thing that I amuse myself.
I looked around the room while waiting for my semi-frothy beverage of choice. There’s a couple sitting in the corner. Very professional looking. A late lunch meeting? An interview perhaps… The late twenties Asian guy that seems to be here more than I am. A chain smoking – Christian school girl with the tattoos on her legs. What is it about a plaid skirt and bobby socks that makes young girls wilder than they would be with out?
Then my eyes gaze upon a lovely young lady who, frankly would look out of place anywhere. She looked to be in her early thirties. Long, thick, flowing brown hair with broad athletic shoulders and distinctive cheek bones. Her deep blue eyes draw attention from across the room. She was wearing ripped jeans and a baggy Clemson sweatshirt that was not-so-effectively hiding a healthy torso. She was breathtaking in a way that you don’t see very often outside a college campus. Although she was dressing down, she was still the picture of class and good breeding – what my Mother used to refer to as ‘polish’. Clearly too old to be a collegiate, but youthful enough to sport the look with out looking out of place.
As I waited for my drink I found myself ogling. I think she was used to it.
I stalled by talking at the counter long enough for the table next to her to open. The bench at the back of the coffee house sat three comfortably, but just like every airplane on the planet, my shoulders were wider than the space provided. I had, quite literally, boxed her in.
She smiled and slid over against the wall.
“Sorry,” I said. “Close quarters in here, huh?”
She nodded and smiled again. This time with teeth. They were perfect. She looked a few years older close up, which made her look even more attractive – still firmly in ‘knockout’ territory. She was the kind of woman that all men want, and all women want to hate.
As I started to set up my laptop, she excused herself and headed for the bathroom. I fumbled like a pre-pubecent schoolboy getting out of her way. I could feel myself blushing for no apparent reason. It may surprise you to learn that I am rarely at a loss for words, but at this moment everything that came to mind seemed trite. So I used a trick that I learned far too late in life. I smiled and kept my mouth shut.
So I set up and started working. Everything has a place on these little round tables. Cell phone and headset at 9:00. Coffee at 2:00. Water at high noon. The semi-small laptop I use fits nicely in the center, but my shoulders & arms are wider than the table, which makes this balancing act a little awkward at times. The fluid to laptop ratio makes the odds not in my favor. There is little room for error.
At this point in my routine I usually plug a headset in and tune out the humanity around me. It seems like a conflict, I know, but it’s kind of like surfing in a wetsuit – you get warmed by the chaos while remaining reasonably protected from the elements. I wanted to leave the headphones off this time so I could chat with my new neighbor. Her stuff was still here, so I knew she’d be back. So I waited.. and waited. and waited. I shrugged and plugged in.
After a short time I felt a tap on my shoulder. There she was – front and center. She’s been gone quite awhile. As I stood up to let her in, I smelled smoke and saw the cell phone in her hand. Explains the delay…
What I should have noticed was the cord connecting the laptop to my noggin. The length of the cable I had was just long enough to hang myself. As I faced my muse and turned my back on my workspace, the computer slid off the small, circular table just as it ripped away from my ears. I swung around to catch it only to have my forearm smack into it with enough force to send the damn thing flying across the room. What could have been a ‘twist and catch’ had morphed in to a ‘scoop and sail’.
Up in the air it went… and down it came. Hard. I couldn’t help but notice the David Letterman-esque quality of the explosion. I can’t imagine that dropping it from the top of the Ed Sullivan Theater would have made it scatter into more pieces. Aren’t these thing supposed to be crash tested, or shock proof or idiot resistant or something? Shit went everywhere…
So there I am. Standing in shock. Gorgeous woman in front of me, destruction scattered on the ground behind her. I did what any sane man would. I looked her straight in the eyes, cleared my throat and said;
“So. Would you like to go out sometime?”
She gave me an apologetic pout and held up her ring finger.
“Just as well. You would probably have wanted to give me your email address anyway which, clearly, I can now do nothing with…”
She chuckled and moved out of my way as I went to recover the shrapnel. The base was in pieces, the keyboard was fifteen feet away from the screen. The screen which looked like it had been run over. I noticed her get up as I politely asked people to pick up their feet as I scavenged for parts underneath them.
She turned to face me as she left, opening the door with her back side.
“Sorry”, she said. And she left.
That’s alright – I gave up married woman for lent…
I need to start looking for the ring. Can’t they, like, wear a sign or something? I was sure, at that very moment, that there was a literary parallel between the shattered computer and the unrealized possibilities of a relationship that never happened. I was thinking that very thought as I came upon the section of carnage that I knew contained the hard drive.
I peeled away layers of cracked and broken electronics to reveal the drive still intact – and still spinning.
“Best I can hope for…”, I said out loud. My drive and my dignity are still in tact.
“He giveth, and he taketh away…” I mumbled. “C’est la vie”
While this is not the best example, it does help illustrate words I try to live by.
‘Every disaster is a yet unrealized opportunity’.
Since the opportunity was married, and had left, the unrealized portion of the opportunity screams a little louder than I’d like. My ability to close the deal not withstanding – still a good theory. But you need to run with the numbers. Sooner or later – its GOT to go my way.
‘Course, that’s just how it looked through my eyes. Your view may differ…