I know lots of em at the neighborhood joint. Jim, the deep thinking guy from up the street, sultry Sarah behind the counter, the guitar playing carpenter, the freshly graduated former school gal and her friend, couple other folks. I say I know them. I don't know them, but I know them ... here at the neighborhood joint.
Eight o'clock in the evening-my workday is done and done well, and on this jewel of a warm humid, comfortable, 70 degree second night of the summer of 2010, at the neighborhood joint, I order my favorite; macaroni and cheese with ham, extra applesauce, hibiscus tea, and, a fudgy brownie. Could an evening be more delightful?
Youngish girl I don't know, slim, tight, dark, pretty-out of my league, comes in the joint, looks and walks directly at me and sits in the seat to my right. I exaggerate making counter space for her, acting like I'd be as accommodating if she were a he, or a not so good looking she. She orders a beer. She's waiting for someone to join her, I think. She must be, pretty gal like her.
Guy who works at a ski shop in town I bought socks at yesterday, tells me a coworker recognized me, says she was excited cause she thinks I'm a celebrity, says she was scared to say anything. I tell him I remember, she was a petite gal, pregnant. I tell him to tell her hey, to tell her I'm flattered.
The ski shop guy and my exchange put the pretty girl wise, and half a minute later the pretty girl does the improbable. She addresses me.
"Are you the guy in the television commercials?"
I raise my attention from my macaroni and cheese and offer her a, if it's possible to be both these things at the same time; perked up, subdued: "Yeah, I am."
She hardly watches T.V., but watching last night with her boyfriend one of my commercial's ran and he said "check this guy, he does Vermont really funny."
I smile, she continues "It was the one where you eat the apple, the 'Sunday One,' one. And I walk in, and here you are."
I act unimpressed while doing my best to fabricate what I can of a faux embarrassed smile "oh yeah, the one where I eat the apple." She nods. I return attention back to my bowl of noodles.
Humans regularly define complete truth by what they see from a distance, and at the neighborhood joint, a church, gas station, theatre, fish market, baseball diamond, hospital waiting room, or anywhere really, me chatting up, or in this case I define it as, me being chatted up, by a women, will more than likely be defined as Me hitting on the women. I don't need to fuel the reputation I have for hitting on the "young," ones. (Reputation completely cultivated for the purpose of selling tickets to those watching from a distance, proven effective I might add) So to skirt presumed guilt, I play possum. I eat more, but don't say more. If the pretty gal and I are going to continue our relationship, it's all up to her.
I consider the odds, and past experience tells me it's over between her and I.
Then, improbability strikes a second time, like lightening.
"The Vermont thing is great, I like it. I'm from New Jersey." She speaks, and I'm so surprised, my right leg twitches, sending my knee into the underside of the counter. It hurts. But it's a good hurt.
Macaroni done, applesauce gone, still enough tea left to wash down a brownie, the pretty girl and I dive head first into small talk.
What part of New Jersey ... I like the macaroni and cheese here too ... yes, it's just the right amount of cheesy ... the guitar player is good, I know him ... aren't these long days beautiful ... Jersey just gets too hot ... .
Small talk goes well. We're good at it. We take care to space each change of topic with the appropriate amount of time that would allow either of us to shift our bodies as a sign we're done talking. But you know, neither of us shifts.
To be continued.
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO or visit his website at www.thelogger.com