As I walked over to her I noticed two different things that my action had created. One- the lines from the Boss’ “My Lucky Day” kept running through my mind and specifically besides the chorus the line “life’s a game and to win we must play/ Honey, you’re my lucky day”. Second – Tessa noticed me and while she had a smile on her face her eyes displayed something close to fear. The short walk over seemed to last a full minute (Have you ever noticed how far you actually walk in a full minute? Go ahead and try it, I know I travel at my normal pace 99 feet in a minute. Now consider she was maybe 30 feet from where I parked. See! Almost a wormhole effect, but I digress…) and I was able to notice what I had recently noticed about her, she is beautiful in a simple, warm way. I fought the flight drive and decided to fight through it because I knew I needed to win.
“Hello Tessa, do you have a minute?” She looked at me smiled brighter and the look of fear began to fade from eyes. “Hi, sure – are you okay?”
“Yes, everything is good I wanted, needed to give you this,” and I presented the package to her. (Now you have to remember this was not a gift wrapped box because I had intended to mail it to her. The box of candy was wrapped in purple tissue paper so it wasn’t like a “product order”.) She put her hands out to receive the box, she looked at it, looked at me and said, “Um, sorry, but I don’t understand. Do you need this shipped…”?
“No! No!” I exclaimed. “It is for you, I want you to have it.” She tilted her head to the left and looked at me and at the same time I felt the flight drive really kicking in. (Seriously I had to have looked like Michael Jackson doing “the lean” move from “Smooth Criminal” because every ounce of body embraced the “flight drive” but my feet were resolved to “fight” for the win.) “Thank you,” she said, “um, should I open it now?”
“No! No!” I exclaimed, “Please open it at home,” at that moment I could feel my toes breaking free from the pavement.” “Really?” she asked, “You want me to wait to open it?” She looked at me and I think she realized at the moment I was becoming unglued and her special heart and kindness had mercy on me. “Ok, I will open it when I get home” and she tucked it under her one arm.
“Great!” I said (noticing much of what I had said so far was one word exclamations) “um,” looking around and noticing it was just us standing in the parking lot and my car, “um, do you need a ride home?” (What the heck was I saying?) She looked at me; surprised was what I was reading from her – heck I was exuding it myself! “That is sweet but I live just around the corner. It is at least a little exercise I can get in today.”
What happened next has to be one of the stupidest things I have ever said, in fact immediately after said it I could feel one of my feet break completely free of the pavement.
I said, “Exercise? You look great.” (Ahh!) Tessa looked at me and she knew what I meant and that I realized what I said was a surprise to me – she smiled and had pity on me “Thanks but I enjoy the few minutes of walking outside” and with that she began to walk past me and she touched my hand and our eyes connected “Thank you for stopping by tonight” and she walked away.
30 to 1, that is not ratio of girls I had asked out and how many accepted. It is the statistic that reveals how many post-it note sheets it took me to write in order to get the one I was happy with, placed on the box of candy. I am not sure if it was because I made it too difficult on myself or that it was a difficult task to complete, but an hour and half later I had finally assembled the gift inside the box and sealed it. When I went to address the box my mind reacted and body followed – anxiety and sweat. What I wanted to do at that exact moment was take my head and repeatedly strike it against my dining table. Where was I going to send the package to?
Being the computer literate person I am I quickly recovered and thought of Peoplefinder.com. Then – in what I can only claim to be an act of God – I considered what if she asked me how did I know where she lived? Again anxiety and sweat returned because I knew that my answer would be truthful and that would have to sound creepy to her. In fact it would probably open the door to questions along the line of “was I researching her on the internet?” I quickly closed my internet browser. I knew her last name because that was the name of the grocery store so I thought of a phone book. Guess what I do not have in my home? (Really – how many of us actually use a white pages anymore.) I grabbed the package and jumped in my car and went hunting for a pay phone. Do you know what else I learned this evening? Pay phones are not everywhere anymore. Guess where I did find a pay phone; correct, at the grocery store.
I pulled into the parking lot and the lights were still on but the store was closed. The pay phone, located on the left corner of the building, away from the entrance. I pulled out my little note pad and pen and looked up her name only to realize she was not listed in the phone book. I looked up her father and he was listed with his home address. I jotted his address down and jumped back into my car. I was about to write the address on the box and stopped. What if she had her own place and was like me, just had a cell phone? If I sent it to her parents would they open it? Was her father the overprotective type? Her mom the nosy type? I stared at the store and got a glimpse of her in the front customer service area. She was putting on her jacket, looking as if she was getting ready to leave. I just watched her. The way she flicked her hair out from under her jacket. The way she tilted her head when trying to get her bangs in the right place. She moved elegantly but simple. Fluid, very comfortable in her own skin. She was talking to a woman, an employee, and they were both laughing. Wow – her face beamed with radiance. They got to the doorway and the lights went out. That is when I jumped out of my skin and slammed my head into the roof of the car. My mind finally broke through my daze “She is coming out!” I started the car and was about to put it in reverse when I watched my hand – or what use to be my hand – reach for the keys in the ignition and turned the car off. My eyes looked at this strange hand and then to doors where Tessa, a woman, and a man were coming out the front door. Tessa was locking the door. My eyes frantically looked and pleaded with my strange hand but it was busy scooping up the package off the passenger seat. WHAT?! Anxiety and sweat returned to their norms when the unlikely happened. My mind which has been with me all my life, which has done its best to watch out for me and guide me along life’s journey – relinquished the anxiety. My eyes (clearly the only part of me that was actually “me” now) stared in terror as the other hand became an accomplice to the strange hand and opened up my car door. Thank God my legs reacted faithfully to my eyes because they lost all strength as “the mind” worked vigorously to remove the body with package in strange hand out of the car.
My eyes then looked over and saw Tessa and again what could only be claimed as act of God (since “I” was running around inside this now foreign body screaming “run away” like in Monty Python) my body got out of the car – package in hand.
Once I entered the store I saw her in her usual checkout lane. I did not have to worry about time since the store had 55 minutes till close and she was still here. I headed to the card aisle and browsed for a “thinking of you” type of card that was nice, courteous, not feminine, and not gushing with love. Do you know how hard it is to find such a card?! They had 14 cards of this theme and I had quickly rejected the first 12 I looked over. The 13th card had a huge a guy with a thought bubble and it was filled with red hearts. Down to 1 card and it was dripping with feminine gooeyness that once I placed the card back into its spot I wiped my hand on my shirt sleeve. I paced the card aisle browsing and re-browsing the genre labels: sympathy, anniversary, love, birthday, get well, and then the so-called “cool” cards which were jokes, slang, etc.
I left the aisle to look for the candy. In the candy aisle was bags of candy, candy by unit for sale, and that was it. For crying out loud what is so freaking hard – I yelled in my head. I found someone stocking the shelves and asked them about boxed candy the type you give as a gift. He told me it was at the end of the card/gift aisle in a refrigerated box. Huh? Well I learned that they sold Esther Price candy and it was always refrigerated and placed in the gift area. In other words I paced back and forth in front of the darn thing and did not see it because I wasn’t looking for it and more than likely if I was looking for it I would not have found it because I did not know what “it” looked like.
I get to the aisle and just as he said it was there. Gold boxes, black writing, and some with a red bow. I picked a box and then walked back and forth more slowly in front of the cards figuring what I was looking for was right there and I did not see it. After two passes of the aisle I looked up and saw that the store was going to close in 2o minutes. Like I really needed the pressure!
What to do? After stressing for five minutes I realized I did not have to buy the card here. In fact I realized maybe a simple post it note with a hand written message from me to her would be the best approach. I rethinked it and felt confident about the approach so I went to the checkout lane – and despite what you may thinking – she was at her register and there was no one in line. I strolled up trying to be casual [which if you have to try to be casual doesn’t that mean you really aren’t casual?].
“Hi, did you find everything ok?” she asked.
Don’t worry I did not tell her about the drama. “Yes, thanks.”
“These are great chocolates,” Tessa said and then followed with “aren’t most chocolates?” She chuckled, I smiled and said, “Yes I think your right. I am getting them for someone who means a lot to me.” (I know, I know – I pushed it but fortunately it worked out).
She told me the price and then said “well that is very nice of you, I am sure they will enjoy it.” She gave me my change and thanked me for the purchase. I told her, “Sure, have a nice night”. “You too” she replied. Still – no one in her line. I walked out and passed in front of one of the big windows and she was standing there wiping the area. I knew right then I had conceived of the perfect plan to let her know of my interest in her.
I had successfully procrastinated for two days any action in reference to Tessa. I had allowed work, the internet, and errands to consume my daily life. That is not to say that she had not crossed my mind. It was now Friday I had an hour left before being forced to face a weekend of free time which meant more opportunities to think about – her. I decided to make a to-do list for the weekend and I would fill it with things that would keep me occupied and distracted. Laundry, cleaning, pay bills, go to a movie, and I stared at the paper seeing the obvious implication of the list – loneliness. Laundry meant plenty of time for thinking so I would clean – which what did that mean about me that I would prefer to clean over talking to a lady? Rather pay bills too? Heck – go to a movie – alone – gads what a dope! I crumpled the paper up and was about to throw it away when I thought about “those” people – the cleaning crew. I have a theory that they look through our stuff, not because they are wicked people – but that it provides them a sense of adventure while performing a tedious unthankful job. I got up and shredded the crumpled list.
After work I got in the car and headed home. My mind started wandering about what to do. Just go up and ask her if she wants to go to dinner? My pulse jumped and I started sweating at the thought so I turned on the radio and rolled down my window and took a deep breath. A few minutes later I was in my apartment looking through the mail. Five pieces received, four straight into the garbage can – of course the one piece was a bill. [Whatever happened to correspondence? Second thought – who would ever write me?]
That is when it hit me.
People love to receive mail – scratch that – people love to receive gifts or packages in the mail. That is how I would approach Tessa. I would get her a small box of chocolates and put a card with it letting her know I thought she was special. I would not mention a date – more of a “thinking of you”/”thank you” kind of thing. How in the world did I come up with such an idea is beyond me but I liked it – and now – now, I was resolved. I grabbed the car keys, got in the car, and headed to store. I would buy the candy & card where she worked and go through her check out lane. I was certain she would remember the purchase when she opened the package in the mail and I knew that she knew my name after a couple years of almost daily purchases. I was relieved, resolved and happy when I parked in the store’s parking lot.
Setting my drink on the table I opened my backpack and removed the latest edition of The Week magazine. (Great weekly magazine by the way – and no I am not on their payroll.) I always start with section that is usually around page 10 which is a “people” section. I am reading and enjoying my iced coffee while also thinking to myself how fortunate celebrities have it. (I won’t digress about that now.) In the background the door dings off and on as people enter and leave the shop. The music – wait – “music” they have on now is really annoying and a couple people have sat at a little table in front of me and have determined that I and the others in the shop want to hear everything they are talking about. However they do not realize that they are dealing with a “professional café dweller” – mwah. I roll my eyes and reach into my backpack and pull out my pair of ear plugs (not your average ones – since I am a professional – mine our something like 90% noise reduction) which once I have put them in my ears I no longer here the two “people”, nor the dings, nor the “music” – just the ever-present ringing in my ears.
I turn to the front of the magazine and now am in the world of “The Week”. Time disappears with every page I turn and I eventually look up when I am near the end of the magazine to see that an hour has passed (so has the two “people”). I removed the ear plugs, got my stuff together and was heading out the door when I bumped into Guy who is a guy from work. He is one of the few (can count on three fingers) that I could refer to as “normal/friendly”. We gave each other the nod (different from the coffee nod) and exchanged “see you on Monday – unfortunately” and parted ways. (Communication that guys can do that sum up fifteen minutes of uncomfortable female conversation and have a more beneficial result when it is over than many female exchanges. I know this to be true because I have a sister.)
Subconsciously I decided to drove the long way home (adding maybe 2 minutes) so I could pass the grocery store(Please note the word “subconsciously”). I was almost at the store when I realized what was happening, I looked at the clock – relieved that it was past their business house and then began to rebuke myself for this side track and subliminal sabotage. She was suppose to be a dead issue and I was suppose to be okay with that. I looked in the rear view mirror into my eyes and said “stop it idiot” and then glared at myself. All the good I had quietly harvested for myself since my reasonable decision and coffee time was quickly unravelled. I pulled in front of the apartment building, shut off the engine and once again looked at myself but this time I said nothing – my subconscious though decided to inform me “your reasons suck, just talk to her”. I looked away and got out of the car.
After mulling, worrying, fretting, and every other similar defeating action I decided that I would put aside the notions of asking Tessa on a date. I successfully reasoned with my self that, first – I did not need all this stress and anxiousness in my life and most certainly these feelings explain a subconscious omen to keep me from making a huge mistake. That is certainly reasonable. Secondly, I did not know enough about Tessa to ask her on a date or “just for coffee”. She could already be seeing someone or “her type” is anti-me in every way so that it reflects we would not get along in the first place. After all the anti-me would have to be an athletic, pompous, know it all, who is constantly looking at himself in a mirror and is a belligerent liar. (See, you now have a good idea of what type of person I really am.) Third, I am not interesting in the least which translates into when she asks me questions about myself I will stutter and give the deer staring into the headlights look which by severing any opportunity of a second date, relationship, etc.
Thankfully reason won out and now I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders, heart and mind so I went to the café for a celebratory iced decaf Americano which reminds me of something I noticed recently. I have in the past couple months went to a Starbucks in the afternoon and evening and ordered a decaf coffee only for them to tell me that they do not make decaf at either time but if I want to wait four minutes they will brew me a cup – translating into a French Press concoction of strong dark brew that will actually peel my eyes back simply because of its strength. Now am I missing something here? I would think caffeine is something one should start adding to their daily intake by no later than 3 p.m. so exactly when do they make decaf coffee? In the morning?! When you need the caffeine – that makes absolutely no sense. Again, I digress….
I entered the coffee shop which was a bit slow in business at the moment (ever noticed the herd mentality in a coffee shop?) as a couple tables had people gabbing and the two squishy chairs were unoccupied. (Why is it that you hardly ever if ever at all here good ol’ classic rock and roll in these places?) I placed my order and they want your name – I provided my coffee alias as usual – Ian (sounds more classy and interesting than my real first name – why don’t parents ever consider this kind of stuff before naming their child?!). After a couple minutes I hear the worker exclaim “Ian – order’s up”. I grab the coffee, give “the nod” (you coffee drinkers know what I am referring to) and head to a squishy seat.
I stewed over the ordeal for a couple days. Having to work for a living and the type of drama that often unfortunately plays at work kept me from getting out of my cell on time to pick up something at the store before they closed at 6. I guess that added to my exasperation but also in the back of my mind I knew it also kept me from either screwing something up or making a complete fool of myself.
Why is it “co-workers” (note the quotation marks) feel it is required to be a nuisance? From talking loudly on a phone so you can hear their conversation, to interrupting you at your cell (“cube”) by just walking in, having their cellphone sitting on their desk and then walking away and leaving it there so we all have to endure their lame ringer going off and not shutting up till the fourth or sixth ring default kicks the call to voicemail, and the king of rudeness – knowing some of your co-workers don’t wash their hands after relieving themselves in the bathroom? If I would walk with latex gloves on I would be considered the freak yet the gross idiot who doesn’t wash their hands is “ok”. But I digress…
I have been thinking about Tessa and trying to come up with a way to gather the guts to ask her out for coffee after work. Really the drama involved here is that I really she would be taking “a big step down” if she answered ‘yes’ while the opposite is true in my case. But that is not the problem, see if she would dismiss with an eye roll, laugh, or a lame excuse (“my cat died…”) it would shatter the picture I have of what type of lady she is. Losing that would be devastating, but of course she would be none the wiser about the whole thing but I would be crushed. So the delay in trying to speak with her can be seen as protecting me but in my heart of hearts I know I am protecting my vision of her.