Dear Very Handsome Man,
"Whatchya workin' on?" is really a pretty great opener to a conversation with a writer. Engaged, listening - all the things writers appreciate. That was a very, very good start. And I do love the irony of you asking me to join you for a cup of coffee, since we were in fact sitting in a coffee shop when you popped the question. Well played.
Also, thank you for asking me. The actual "ask" is kind of a lost art, and so many relationships casually slide down the talking-texting slope and somehow into a date without a story of how it started. I applaud a man who asks. I really, truly do. It's very attractive.
I'm kind of old fashioned that way, I suppose. Or maybe I'll just forever be in love with a good story. The best relationships have them. Very well done.
I'm afraid, however, that I already know this isn't going to work out. What you don't realize is that you already showed me who you are.
An hour before we talked, I was tidying the lobby at the end of my shift at that very coffee shop. I was emptying the trash, stocking the napkins, clearing the tables, and sweeping under them.
I accidentally did that thing that I hate -- instead of lifting the chair, I slid it out from under the table and it accidentally made a horrible screeching sound that's only a little bit better than unfolding an ironing board. Screechy and horrible.
Still, it only lasted a couple of seconds, and it was only one chair. And I now know that sometimes a person can just inadvertantly get in the zone and not realize the noise she's making. It was just a mistake, and just a little loud one. I'll be more careful next time.
But you, very handsome man, looked at me with big, annoyed eyes. You outright scoffed at me. Scoffed. All huffy and annoyed.
I was quick to apologize. "I'm so sorry, sir. I hate when people do that, and I just did it myself. I'm so sorry," I said.
You didn't answer me, and I'm not sure you even heard me. You had your headphones on, you were working away at your computer, and you really just wanted me out of your space. That's fair, and I moved along.
Fast forward an hour.
I finished working behind the counter, took off my apron, took down my ponytail, put in my own earbuds, and set up my computer to do some writing of my own before I picked up the boys from school. I was no longer a Starbucks employee, but one of the patrons--a role I've long loved.
And that's when you struck up conversation with me, showing your interest in me, my story, and hopes for more conversations over more coffee.
You didn't recognize me, the one who had served you.
The thing is, on a first date, I watch carefully how a man treats the server and staff at the restaurant, because I feel like you can tell a lot about a person by the way he treats those who serve him. You, sir, already showed me.
There's a difference between choosing to serve and being treated like a servant.
No, I really don't think this will work out.
Thank you, though. You're truly very lovely to look at.
* * *
Ooh! I wish you had said something to him.
I have a picture on my iphone of my husband, about a month after we started dating. He's at the gas station, chatting with the gas station attendant. The main reason I took it was to remember why he had picked me up and taken me to get gas: because I had called him from the side of the road, where my car had run out of gas. (Might as well let him see the real me from the start!).
So number one, he picked me up immediately and took me to get gas without acting put out or irritated AT ALL.
Then he asked the guy pumping our gas (in Oregon they do it for you) how he was doing and actually listened.
Sooo.... naturally we had to get married.