Monday, February 11, 2008

A little more sweetness

Y'all nauseous yet?

(I had to throw the "y'all" in there. Aspen called today and said, "Listen to you! A week in Texas and you get your drawl back!" But I digress....)

As I opened the door to the restaurant, Greg opened the other door. " can only stick around about an hour, hour-and-a-half. I got my ass chewed for having tickets open for more than that, and the 'firing manager' is here tonight. He's watching."

I must have frowned. His looked melted at me. "I'm sorry...."

He talked quietly as he led me to a table. "I'm off at 9:00, but I have plans I can't get out of. My buddy has been counting on me going to this thing with him for four weeks."

I sat down and turned my best sad eyes on him. "Don't be pissed," he said. "You can't be pissed at me." He was more pleading than commanding. I gave him a smile, and let him get back to work. He seemed very stressed, watching for that manager.

They were slow. It was early on a Monday. He had two tables when I came in, and the other just left. They tipped him well and his mood brightened a bit. His eyes still darted around, watching for the "firing manager" while he talked to me on the sly.

I threw him a curveball and ordered something I'd never ordered before. It's the first time I deviated from my norm, and it made him laugh.

The other day, he'd entertained my friend with an explanation of his tattoos. One forearm is Batman. The other is the symbol for the Green Lantern. One shoulder is Spiderman. "Where's Superman?" she asked. He shook his head. "No. No superheroes who are impervious to everything but a rock from their home planet. That isn't cool."

"Where's Robin," she asked. He stood up and looked sideways at her. "Robin is not cool," he said emphatically, and my friend laughed. She knew the stigma of Robin when she asked.

This evening, I looked at his arms as he leaned on the table. "So, I know where you fall on the superhero debate," I said. "But where do you fall on the Star Trek versus Star Wars debate?"

Yes, a loaded question. He had no idea the precipice he was standing on. "I like them both equally," he said.

I gave him an even stare. "That's a very safe answer," I said, smiling.

"It's true!" and he started to list all the Star Trek and Star Wars incarnations he owned. He even has the Star Wars cartoons.

I grinned, and told him my license plate number. It's a subtle play on a favorite Star Wars character name. It took a moment to register, and I saw the "Ah-ha!" moment hit. "I'm an Anakin fan myself," he said. Actually, he likes Hayden Christiansen's work.

I also learned he's a basketball and football fan, with a little baseball. And that he listens to all kinds of music, except "the pop crap they play in here!" He started listing genres, as he walked through, and I chimed in, "Blues?" He stopped and looked at me, "Oh hell, yeah!" "Keb' Mo'?" I asked. "Yes!" He seemed impressed that I knew who that was.

I was sitting quietly, checking voicemail, when he stopped again. " can't be mad at me," he said again.

"I won't be mad," I said. He was happy to hear it and started to walk away. "I'll just cry," I said, almost under my breath.

He didn't break stride, but circled back around. "You can't cry," he said, the pleading back in his voice. "Please don't cry."

I smiled. "I know."

There was a question burning it's way through my mind, though. It was unresolved from earlier. I'd admitted that I thought I was falling for him. But his response had been very Han-Leia, "I love you/I know." So, I asked....

"So," he said, returning to my table.

"So," I said. "You know that thing I said you were right about earlier?"

He nodded. "Uh-huh." His beautiful blue eyes staring into me. My friend was right. His eyelashes curl.

"I just had to wonder," I said, a toe in the water. "Is that all right?"

"Oh yes, it is," he said. "It really is. And we'll figure it out. We'll spend more time together and we'll work it out, what we're going to do. I hope that next time I'll be able to get better sneak-away time with you."

He asked about dessert. "What do you want?" he said. "I mean, besides me." And he winked. He set the ticket on the table. As usual, he didn't ring up my drink and he'd left off the dessert. I protested. "I'm not going to charge you for that, are you serious?" When I still protested, afraid he'd get in trouble for that. "Seriously, I'm better than that."

I tipped generously. He came back and said, "Thank you for your contribution." And winked again.

I said, "Well, I have to make up for the state I was in this morning. You had to see me without brushed hair and no makeup."

He made a "pffftt" sound, and lowered his voice. "Did it seem like I minded? I mean, you could probably tell how much I enjoyed seeing you."

Later, as I was getting ready to leave, he asked when I'd be back. I told him a round-about date. "Call me before then and let me know for sure," he said. "Next time, I want to have a day off that I can spend with just you. All day, with you."

That, dear diary, sounds like just what we need.

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