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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

12.21.2005

Sunday, December 21, 2003

I was sitting in a breakfast diner waiting for the door to open. I'd seen his picture already (a studio-portrait, sort of "Love Connection" cheese -- coat thrown over one shoulder, big smile) and the sound of his voice had infiltrated my consciousness over the last month of hours-long phonecalls. I smiled every time I got one of his emails. Still, I hadn't sat in the same room with him; watched the way he interacted, observed his cues and unconscious mannerisms, grilled him on literature, movies, theology. Things had been progressing quietly, peacefully, but this could be the deal breaker.

I was dressed a little better than normal for a church day; elegant top, my favorite wide-legged, black dress pants, up 'do. I was tired after having sung my guts out in choir, but ready. Hospital and her husband were sitting at a pushed-to table beside me, perusing their menus. I made nervous small talk and tried to keep my eyes off the door. The diner was thick and crowded; the din of syruped forks and knives rose above the coo of sticky babies and clipping waitress talk. I wanted to look at my menu, at the floor, my silverware; I failed.

Hospital's husband, Foodie, talked in regular tones about the quality of fare and the prospect of a good cup of coffee. I smiled, vaguely aware I was being spoken to. Damn that door.

Then, without drumbeat, there he was. Unceremonious: just another guy in a turtleneck walking through a diner on a sleepy December morning. My stomach did not jump. My heart did not leap. I examined him and knew he did not know me. His eyes scanned the crowd, searching for a look of recognition. He looked right at me. And kept walking. He would have passed had I not stopped him.

I said his name in a question. He questioned mine back. He reached to shake my hand. I reached up to hug him. He smiled. Big. And sat down across from me.

I introduced him to Hospital and Foodie, and them to him. We ordered.

He and Foodie talked and Hospital added her portion, I could only nod and pluck two words a piece. I was present but not present. My mind was running, rushing, trying to think, and not to think. I couldn't decide if I liked him immensely or cared nothing for him. His voice bloomed in my ear when he spoke. I had only known it disembodied, coming through the phone. How strange to have it right here with me, a mouth forming syllables, a tongue laughing l's. I suddenly became very bashful. We had talked so long... about so much. To have him here in front of me, a stranger, was too surreal. I couldn't look at him. Couldn't. He attempted to engage me; I could only look at the table. Hospital and Foodie intermediaried.

Then he asked me a direct question. I looked up. Clear green eyes were asking into mine; honest, happy, wise, inquiring. I blushed. "Okay," I said. And after he'd paid for all our breakfasts, we bundled up and walked to the bookstore.


Happy Anniversary to us.

3 Comments:

Anonymous karen said...

Happy anniversary to you, WG and Teflon. Thank you for the inside of your heart today. :0).

6:56 PM  
Blogger WordGirl said...

You're welcome, doll! Haven't heard from you in awhile! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! Hope you're doing well and all is at peace.

9:40 AM  
Blogger worshipnaked said...

Awww, beautiful.

6:06 PM  

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