#651: I'VE STILL GOT IT

I was by the grill in the cafeteria waiting for my mozza burger, and everything was all normal like how it usually is when I stand around waiting for a dead thing to be served to me. Actually, because it was a burger made out of ground beef, it was more like a medley of quite a few dead things that I was waiting for, but that's beside the point. I was being very casual and leaning up against the wall while I surveyed the room. I was pretending to be very James Dean about waiting for my meat, minus the cigarette and the cool jacket, when a woman in her twenties took up a waiting position a few feet away from me.

She was cute in that I'm-an-artist-and-can't-keep-track-of-my-toque-with-ear-flaps kind of way and had funky glasses sliding down her nose while she fumbled in her pockets. She kept glancing in my direction, but surreptitiously, and so I was doing my best impression of someone who is oblivious to her surroundings. As you have probably guessed, this was not hard.

She was absolutely horrible at being surreptitious, which is why I think she gave up being coy and instead threw a dime on the floor by my feet. She tried to make it look like it accidentally flipped out of the pocket she was fumbling around in, but I saw the toss. She actually threw a dime by my feet. I must be so hot.

With her dime now fallen right next to my shoe, her only option, of course, was to come within inches of me and spend time on the floor at my feet, which she did. Watching her attempt to force a faux-accidental introduction was stunning, and I was impressed with her ingenuity. Her ear-flap hat fell off to reveal a crooked pony tail cobbled together from what bits of her jagged, home-jobby haircut fit into the elastic.

I'm not being critical. Her haphazard style was quite endearing. And that she threw money at my feet was weird and a little desperate, but sweet. And her ear-flap toque? Its flaps each had a brown partridge appliqué with buttons for eyes. And then her being at my feet? That was just plain odd. I stared at a bank of plastic cutlery in the distance and tried to ignore the fact that the pom-pom on her toque was nudging my knee.

If you think that the first half of our encounter was awkward, though, you have no idea. It was the rest of our encounter the was truly awkward as all hell, because after she picked up her ear-flap hat and her dime, she stayed where she stood up RIGHT NEXT TO ME. It becomes exceedingly difficult to affect a convincing I'm-an-oblivious-office-jerk-waiting-to-buy-a-burger look when the person to whom you are trying to appear oblivious is standing less than twelve inches from you. And giving you the peripheral once-over with her eyes.

My mind ran a nervous, knee-jerk commentary during those two long minutes: Why won't she stop checking me out? People are so weird. This wedding ring means nothing to people. If she were on the other side of me, she wouldn't have to see that new zit. Am I sweating? Oh gawd, I think I'm sweating. I never used to sweat! Where the fuck is my burger? I don't even like burgers. I don't even eat ground beef. What if she talks to me? I'll screw up and say something like "nice haircut". Why is she still looking at me?

I have rarely felt so relieved as when the fry cook yelled out Vegetarian burger, extra pickles!, and it was ear-flap woman's burger, because I am in high school, am still too afraid to shower after gym, and am totally crushing on Cyndi Lauper.

Even so, I've been mentally dusting my knuckles on my sweater all afternoon, because, baby, I'VE STILL GOT IT.