Cute Meet no. 3

Eliza

 

The queue hadn’t moved in several minutes, that’s why Eliza didn’t feel bad answering the call. She wondered if they were training someone new or if there was pretentious asshole up front being demanding. Having ashamedly been both, and on both sides of the counter, she knew how much that could clog up the system. There were only three people in the world she would actually answer a call from: Her Father, her best friend, and whomever may be delivering her food.

It was Rory. Her best friend.

“Morning cutie,” Eliza said. “Yes I went. I told you I would. I know, I know but y’know what I’m like. Hey, you little bitch. Not sure that was called for hahaha. It was fun, you were right. Not always, but, I guess I’ll admit, often.”

The queue moved forward once place. A young hipster with four coffees in one hand and two bags of food in the other walked past unsteadily. He almost tripped and she could feel the collective breath holding of the entire queue as he tried to balance the coffees again like a spinning plate on the end of a stick.

“Oooof, nearly witnessed coffee mass suicide. Hahahaha, I would have thrown myself on the ground to lick it up at this point, feel like I’ve been waiting a lifetime. Oh just down the road, y’know the one by the Station? No the other one, the other other one, yeah.”

She stepped forward again absentmindedly and bumped into the man in front who had merely bent down to take something from his bag that was placed at his feet.

“Oh shit, I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to uh, like that, ah, awkward.”

“That’s alright,” the man said, turning round. “Maybe I can return the favour sometime?”

Eliza let the silence hang in the air as she stared him dead in the eyes, phone still to her ear, and waited for him to turn back round sheepishly and leave her alone.

“Tell me about it,” she said, striking back up the conversation with Rory. “The absolute worst. Sometimes I think it’s a blessing y’know that I’m gay and don’t have to actually voluntarily deal with men.”

The man in front’s shoulders tensed, she could see his hands clenching into fists and for a flash of a moment she couldn’t tell if he was trying to control himself or if he was going to turn around and punch her. Her heart skipped what felt like a lifetime when he actually turned, brushed past her and left the building.

The queue moved forward again, more people filed in behind and the whole thing started to feel like a Sisyphean nightmare.

“Yeah, he just left hahaha. Didn’t die. Good day,” she said. “Right, where were we? Oh my god yes, so I uh, I think I met someone last night. Calm down calm down, it’ll probably end up in nothing. Because, that’s just how my life goes. Hahaha, yeah, like, what’s that about? Seriously? Anyway, yeah, she was cool and smart and like annoyingly funny but not like annoying annoying y’know. Exactly, yes. She could have her own Netflix special or something and I’d fall in love with her and repeat her jokes all. the. time. Oh yes, of course. I was super calm and super casual and just walked up to her and told her she was beautiful and then the lights dimmed and everyone around us moved in slow motion. Hahahahah. Don’t ask stupid questions then, have you met me?”

The woman in front of her, now the creepy guy had gone, turned her head as if to peruse the sandwiches but rolled her eyes.

“Excuse me, I’m trying to have a private conversation,” Eliza said to the woman, who turned back as if she didn’t hear a thing.

“Some people today honestly, it’s not like I’m shouting loud or anything, God. Huh, oh no, no. Totally fucked it. Tried to make a joke, but they were talking about something different than I thought and it did not go down well so I just like laughed maniacally as if they were the idiots for not getting it and backed away. Yup, classic me. I almost saw her a couple more times but there was a nice big houseplant that somehow just like kept getting in my way whenever she walked past.”

The queue moved forward again, she was finally approaching the end. The judgemental woman in front ordered a skinny cappuccino, double shot, with vanilla, chocolate on top.

“I need to get out of this city,” she said. “There’s nothing left for me here. I know but— yes. Yes. You make sense but— will you stop okay? Not that it matters because I’ll never see her again, and knowing my luck she’s not even into women, but, I don’t know. I’d tell her she was cute, but like cute in that way that’s not immediately apparent. Wait does that sound mean? Not like a Hello Kitty cushion but like a moody cat, no that’s worse. Her smile, I’d tell her it was beautiful. That’s basic, but safe. Okay, I’d ask her for a drink or a coffee or something and then see if she could pick the place because I just know she’d know somewhere a thousand times better—. Fine, I’d pick somewhere. Confidence. Oh, hi. Good morning. Black Americano please, to go. Thank you. You’re right you’re right. Okay, so if the Universe ever conspires to allow us to meet again, I’ll ask her out. I can’t, no. I can’t ask him for her number, that’s weird and then also, if she turns me down, more people will be aware of my humiliation. I’ll leave it up to the Universe. Small world and all that right?”

The barista handed Eliza the Americano. She felt like all the blood in her body had rushed to her face, turning her bright red and sweaty like a tomato glistening on the vine, as she turned to leave and saw her, two people behind in the queue.

The girl was looking at Eliza, smiling. ‘It is a cute smile’ she thought again. Eliza looked down, the hypothetical courage summoned during the phone call quickly vanishing. She was fully prepared to walk passed, mumbling nonsense into the phone and leave when an arm reached out from the queue.

“Hi.”

“Oh, huh, I mean hi,” Eliza replied, panic setting in.

“I have a serious soft spot for cute moody cats,” the girl said. “Fancy sitting down and drinking that coffee with me?”

Cute Meets no. 2

Nikki

 

Any chance Nikki got she would stand or sit right by the doors of the tube. She loved watching people rush to try and beat them closing, and fail. To her it was theatre; a shakespearian tragedy with a twist comedy ending, like if Juliet had all of a sudden sat up at the end and yelled psyche. It was honest, raw frustration. It was foreshadowing of humanities struggle against the machines. It was hilarious.

“I can’t believe you’re laughing at that poor person,” her friend said one day, genuinely shocked.

“Oh c’mon,” Nikki protested. “It was funny. There’s like a train every two minutes, there was literally no need for them to get so angry.”

“You don’t know what someone might going through, just, be nicer.”

“Jesus,” Nikki said. “It’s not like I’m going round intentionally tripping children.”

“I dunno,” her friend said, moving towards the door to leave the carriage. “Seems like a defence mechanism to me, and I’m not the only one. You’re kinda closed off, open up a little, you never know what might fall in your lap y’know? See ya later.”

Those words rattled around the now emptier carriage line a pinball ‘I’m not the only one.’ Such a subtlety devastating thing to say to a person, implying so much.

At the next station she was still rolling those words over in her mind, like an archeologist dusting a fossil for detail, meaning, answers. The beeps sounded overhead. Closing doors. She looked up and saw someone running towards the carriage. They looked almost superhero-like; their long coat trailing dramatically behind them, sheer determination on their face, arms loaded with a briefcase and water bottle swinging back and forth. And then, the trip. Not three paces away from being safely in the carriage, one foot betrayed them, getting snagged on the other, and, as if someone had lifted an invisible tripwire, they were sent flying; a superhero, nothing touching the ground, flight, if only for a second.

They sailed through the open doors just before closing behind them and landed, head first in her lap. She had dropped everything, dropped to her knees to catch them on instinct, like a fielder deep in the outfield finally getting the chance to do what they’d always dreamed of. A game changing catch.

“I’ve got you,” she said looking into their eyes dilated with panic and adrenaline.

A slow swell of applause rippled through the carriage.

(not so) Cute Meets no.1

Ben & David

 

None of the apps had worked, so he took a leaf out of the old school play book and reluctantly agreed to a set up via a work friend.

“He works with my boyfriend— Husband,” she corrected herself, the change in title still fresh and a little awkward on her tongue.

The way she described the guy made him sound like every boy he’d had a crush on since before he was able to understand any of who he was.

“He’ll be sat at the bar, wearing a white t-shirt,” she said, conforming the details of the meet. “He’s never not in a white t-shirt. I’ve always wanted to know why. If it comes up, ask him yeah?” she chuckled.

He saw White T-shirt the moment he walked in, amplified in the dim bar spotlight shining like a beacon calling to him. Dark hair, strong jaw, thin arms and slight but clearly strong, defined back muscles showed through the thin cotton shirt tucked tight into black jeans.

For a moment, he considered leaving but knew that any awkwardness would at least be isolated in this one night. It would be awkward at work for weeks if he bailed. Instead, he approached slowly, gauging which side to introduce himself from. White T-shirt was laughing at something on his phone when he leant in from the left.

“Hi, I think I’m your— oh my god.”

“Benji?”

“Just Ben now,” Ben said, pulling a stool towards him. “Hi David.”

“Damn,” David said with a sigh, “I guess it is a small world.”

“Too small.”

“Okay,” David said, eyes widening, faux insulted, maybe just on the cusp of genuine.

“No, I just—Sorry. I didn’t know uh, you were. I mean, guess a lot’s changed in—“

“Like, nine years?” David said. “You haven’t,” he added, his confidence and self assuredness seemingly undiminished since secondary school.

“Shit, nine years, really?” Ben said, ignoring David’s little jab for the moment. “Gross.”

“Right?”

“So, is this like happening? Are we gonna go through with this?”

“Hey,” David said. “I’m gay if you are?”

 

I’m coming back

After yet another long break from posting here, I think I’m going to try again in 2020. I’ve got some new things to share and, I’ll be honest, I miss this place, even if there’s only like four of you that read this thing. Hello to you.

I feel like I got overwhelmed with everything I was trying to accomplish and this blog was an easy thing to let go of in service of other projects. But, looking back over old posts I realise how much productive freedom this format allowed me and I think I need to make room for that again.

I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions which is why I am posting this now, mid December, because if you want to make a change in your life, why wait? Just change.

Let’s see what happens next.