How it goes…
She never saw him coming.
But isn’t that the way it usually goes?
Girl is oblivious. Boy appears before her very eyes…
OK. Maybe this scenario sounds more like the opening for a bad romance movie. The kind where one half of the very cute couple dies at the end, and everybody cries because we’re all so used to Hollywood-happy-endings that we just can’t cope with the real stuff every once in awhile.
But this is how it happens for her: she never sees him coming. One day she’s eating her lunch, reading a book about how some successful husband killed his wife and tried to fool the gorgeous FBI agent, while simultaneously trying to get into her pants.
Yeah. It’s not the greatest meet-cute. But it’s the truth.
He walks up to her, where she’s sitting, eating and reading at this little cafe. Her hair is a frizzy mess (thanks New York City humidity. Thanks a whole lot), and her glasses are slipping down her nose because it’s so hot out, she’s literally sweating bullets. Seriously, she feels gross. Her cotton shirt is damp from perspiring and her feet feel like they’re swollen inside her TOMS.
But he walks up to her all the same and says what every book nerd hopes to hear out of a guys mouth, “Hey…whatcha reading?”
She’s so stunned that she leaves her mouth hanging open as she stares at him. It dimly registers in her partially summer fried brain that he’s cute and asking her a question, so she should attempt to answer him.
And thank God he’s patient and seems intent on getting her to talk to him because he puts her out of her misery.
“Oh, that’s a good one,” he gestures to her book. “Mind if I sit down?”
It again registers in her brain that he reads (!) and that the cafe is empty apart from her, and that he could sit anywhere else.
And knows that somewhere, her mother and her grandmother are feeling like their worlds have tilted a little on their axis because she has just invited a strange man to sit down with her.
She reasons with herself that it’s in public and that she’ll be fine because her boss is expecting her back in…oh shit, 15 minutes.
“So, what’s your name?” he asks.
She tilts her head to the side, smiles a little and says, rather cleverly, she thinks to herself, “No…I don’t think I’m ready to give you my name yet…Why don’t you tell me what you think of the book I’m reading? I just started and haven’t made up my mind quite yet.”
He only smiles, and indulges her, she supposes. He doesn’t ask for her name again, and they pass the next 10 minutes bantering back and forth about books.
She thinks he might be perfect.
“Sorry,” she says, as she filters out some cash for her meal, “but I have to get back to work…”
He doesn’t stand, and she’s partly relieved because she’s not ready for him to know where she works either.
“That’s fine,” he says, “I actually have to get back too.”
She swings her bag over her should and puts an unused napkin in the book to mark her place.
And as she turns to walk out the door, he asks her that question that started their whole 15 minute encounter,
“What’s your name?”
“It’s nice to meet you Maggie,” he says, “I’m Mark.”
It’s just a feeling
When he sees her sitting just outside the cafe, even though it’s 85 degrees and climbing, with 75% humidity, he feels something…shift…inside of him. And he knows that he just has to talk to her.
But how to get her attention?
He tries walking past her on the sidewalk. He tries walking past her on the sidewalk, talking loudly into his cell phone at a pretend business associate.
No go. She’s totally immersed in her novel.
He tries entering the cafe. He tries entering the cafe, buying something, and then going back outside. He tries sitting near her; tries sitting in her sort-of line of sight; tries coughing, sneezing, anything to get her attention.
This has never happened to him before.
He has to know who this girl is.
So he does what he probably should have just started with in the first place: he gathers his nerve, slaps his most charming smile on his face and walks over to her, and says, “Hey…whatcha reading?”
And he can’t help but like the way her face goes into complete shock. This girl who has her crazy-curly looking blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail; whose glasses have slipped down her sweat shiny face, and who is gaping at him like a fish.
She’s cute, he decides.
He decides to be a gentleman and save her. Also, if she keeps on the way she’s going, he’s going to start laughing.
“Oh, that’s a good one,” (thank God, he’s read that), “mind if I sit down?”
He thinks the Gods must be smiling on him because she nods.
She won’t tell him her name, this mysterious reader who has captivated him and distracted him from his morning. She asks him his opinion on the book, and he can see the skepticism in her eyes, and knows that she’s waiting for him to disappoint her.
He’s honest: he did like the book, even if it was a little slow for his tastes…
The answer seems to satisfy her, and he seems to have passed because she doesn’t run, screaming from the cafe.
He can see her eyes darting to her cell phone that is placed on the table. And he can see that she’s twitchy. But he pretends it doesn’t bother him and keeps her talking, until…
“Sorry,” she starts leaving money on the table, “but I have to get back to work.”
Oh. So that’s why she was antsy. She has things to do this afternoon that don’t involve sitting around talking books with him.
He lets her do her thing and is making a promise to himself to always come back here, just in case she should be here, when the forbidden question slips out,
“What’s your name?”
She surprises him and gives him enough hope to drag his sorry ass through the rest of his afternoon, and that maybe he’ll see her again,
“It’s nice to meet you Maggie,” she smiles at him, a faint blush creeping into her cheeks, “ I’m Mark.”