I’m sitting in a crowded café with a travel brochure. By the end of the day I have to make a decision about whether to tour around Vietnam and Cambodia. The trip deposit is due and I’m assessing if my decreasing bank account can take the hit. An attractive dark-haired man in his late thirties is with a colleague at an opposite table. He’d smiled at me when I’d ordered my coffee and now I’m struggling to look like I haven’t noticed him glancing at me; I feel distinctly self-conscious and I’m certain it’s obvious. He calls out.
Him: Did you want the paper?
My heart jumps. Is he talking to me? I think so. I look up and see him smiling in my direction with the paper in his hand.
Me: No, it’s okay. I’ve got to look at this (gesturing to the brochure).
Him: No, seriously – take it, I’ve finished with it.
Me: It’s okay, really. I’ve got this.
In spite of my refusal, he gets up and brings me the paper. For the next twenty minutes I feel obliged to pretend to read it as he talks to his colleague – acutely aware that he’s continuing to glance over at me.
I look up at the sound of shuffling chairs. The two men are leaving. The dark-haired man smiles at me and speaks to his colleague, “I’m just going to grab another drink, you go on ahead and I’ll catch up with you”. He hovers uneasily at the counter until his companion is out of sight then he walks to my table.
Him (visibly nervous): Got the day off work?
Me (smiling, hopefully reassuringly): Actually, I’ve got a few months off work – it means I get to enjoy sunny days like this.
Him: Lucky you! …. um, I know this seems kind of forward, but I was wondering if you’d maybe like to go for a coffee or drink sometime?
[Okay what he actually said was, “Blah, blah … … this seems kind of forward, but you’re really beautiful and I was wondering blah blah …” I didn’t want to write the “beautiful” bit because it seemed arrogant – but it’s been soooo bloody long since someone commented positively on my appearance, so I’m letting you know. Sod modesty! Anyway, back to the story].
Me (smiling, I look at my cup and back up at him): Well I can’t claim I don’t like coffee.
He laughs, allowing him to release some of his nervous tension. We exchange names and he puts my number into his phone. Both of us will spend the next few days excited and anxious in anticipation of the phone call, imagining the future conversation and the date that’ll be organised during it.
He’s made my day – I’ll be living off his flattery for some time. Suddenly decisions seem much easier; I’ll book the trip to Asia. What’s money in the big scheme of things? Laughably, one little instance of mutual attraction has made everything brighter and trouble-free. Nothing can hold me back when I’m in the buzz bubble. The mild euphoria makes me feel unstoppable, but I’m aware that it’s both ridiculous and temporary.
Like a caffeine hit, sexual attraction provides energy. Unfortunately this is followed by an inevitable slump and the buzz bubble will burst. It’s likely this potential new flame won’t last and possible the ending will be awkward. At least the only thing I have to lose is my local haunt; having been a regular in this café for weeks, I might have to relocate to another coffee-house. It’s an insignificant price. In the meantime I’m going to enjoy my fleeting moment of elation.
So the holiday decision is easily settled but replaced with another quandary – what should I wear on the as-yet unmentioned and non-existent date? I don’t know if it’ll be a coffee or a drink, during the day or at night, on a weekday or weekend. Each option alters the appropriate level of displayed skin, heel height, and hair style. Heaven help me if he suggests an active date; jodhpurs or a wetsuit are definitely not making it to my short-list. Ugh. And world leaders think they have stressful decisions ….