April 29, 2010
It's been a while since I attended my last writing group and I miss it. Came across this little exercise today:
She walked into the coffee house not knowing what to expect. She’d seen a photograph of him online, but it was slightly out of focus. What did stand out about this one, and what made her answer his emails, and later, the request for a meeting in person, was his smile. No matter how dark and fuzzy the snapshot online appeared, she could clearly make out a wide, bright smile, one that reached his slightly out-of-focus eyes.
She ordered her Americano and then poured in some cream before sitting in the big easy chair in the center of the room. She was, after all these months, finally excited to meet”The Smiler”. His online profile listed things that were ideal and important in a friend and mate, and he emailed that he was a good listener and loved to cook. She imagined him smiling while they cooked together after work, offering quick shoulder rubs to help ease the kinks and knots in her back after a long day of kneading bread in the bakery she worked at next door. Online dating, so far, had proven to be disappointing, but today she had reason to be hopeful. She had a system: she skipped over all the profiles of men in baseball hats, without their shirts on, or if their profile picture had other women unceremoniously and jaggedly photo-shopped out.
“I said ICED CARMEL Macchiato, EXTRA soy and EXTRA caramel. Double soy-WHIP.”
The tense, short-tempered voice interrupted her musings. She looked up to see a man in a pilled tan sweater with micro suede elbow patches sauntering toward her. He was gripping an embarrassingly large iced coffee drink as he smiled lewdly, focusing in on her chest, honing in as though it was the radar signal guiding his approach and landing.
“Well hey there, Cupcake. That’s my nickname for you... Cupcake. You know, because you work in a bakery and everything.”
He gave an overly animated wink, laughed at his own joke, and cascaded his long, lanky body like a rag doll into the vacant chair next to her.
“Nice sweater, Cupcake.”
She crossed her arms protectively. The Smiler’s grin, which I’d imagined and grown attached to, suddenly changed from charming to smarmy, making him look like a long-limbed version of a perverted Cheshire cat.
“I come up with them all the time, you know, nicknames. Good ones, too. Hey Cupcake, didn’t I tell you I’m lactose intolerant? Well I am. Lactose in-tol-er-ANT. Crap like that there milk and shit tears me up inside like a son of a bitch. You DON’T want that, Cupcake. Hell, they don’t even serve the right kind of God damned soy milk in this place. Now Starbucks, the one next to my apartment… good ol’ SB’s -- that’s my nickname for them -- now THEY serve the good stuff. West Soy. WS. Gotta love that crap.”
Without pausing or taking a breath, he jerked his head toward the window and pointed with his thumb to the parking lot.
“Did you see my ride? It’s a Chevy. Ya gotta love them American made VE-hicles. Those trucks are where it’s at, Cupcake. Where it is AT. Know what I mean?”
He winked again, grinned even wider, and checked out the woman sitting next to them to make sure she’d been listening.
Posted by Heidi von Tagen at 3:51 PM