The next morning, I took my Escalade back to the dealership, and I was told it was overheating because there were air bubbles in the radiator. Charlie said that was total bullshit, but whatever. Just make my car run without the engine’s temp reaching volcanic levels! They put my SUV in a service bay and let it run for about 10 minutes. I was told it could take as long as an hour. I got bored, so I asked the manager, Tom, if someone could give me a lift back to my Grandmother’s, which was TWO miles away. “I need to finish packing,” I said.
“No, but we have a shuttle that goes to the mall,” Tom replied.
Why are all men so thick-headed that they think a trip to the mall is a goddamned cure-all? I didn’t say—Hey, I need some new pantyhose/shorts/undies, can someone run me over to the MALL? No, I said, I WANNA GO HOME AND PACK….
Tom gave me a rather impatient look, complete with tautly drawn eyebrows. “No, I need to go to my Grandmother’s and pack, but, yeah, the mall’s a great substitute for that.” With an annoyed eye roll at Cindy, who smiled, I strutted over to the showroom to wait on the shuttle.
Upon arriving at the mall, I bee-lined over to Barnes & Noble. I bought Catching Fire, the second book in the The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.
I bought a bottle of water at the Starbucks inside B&N, sat down, and started reading. A few minutes later, I could feel someone’s eyes on me. I glance up from my book, and there’s this guy approaching me carrying a laptop. He’s tall and built like a redwood tree with legs. With an 18-inch neck, he was a real sporto dude, except for the fact that his light brown hair is shoulder-length, and he was wearing smallish hoop earrings and a silver cross studded with turquoise chips. A definite identity crisis—as if he couldn’t decide if he’s a hippy, wanna-be-musician, or a professional wrestler.
A good-looking man, but I just wanted to read MY BOOK until my car was ready. I did NOT feel like dealing with some individuality-conflicted schmoozer who didn’t notice my wedding ring…or didn’t CARE that I’m married.
He gave me a slight smile and said, “Would you mind to plug in my laptop?” He nodded toward the electrical outlet beside my table.
“Sure, no problem,” I replied, hoping that was REALLY all he wanted. I plugged in his laptop and went back to reading my book. But, NO, Sporto Guy is still standing there, awkwardly staring at me.
I looked up at him with a quizzical expression, doing my best to convey the attitude of: What the hell do you want?
“I like your earrings,” said Sporto Guy.
I was wearing my peace symbol necklace with earrings to match. “Thanks,” I said, turning my attention back to Katniss Everdeen, the main character in The Hunger Games/Catching Fire.
“I make jewelry,” said Sporto Guy as he sat down at the table across from me. With a flicker of my eyes in his direction and a polite, rather strained smile, I, once again, went back to the throes of Katniss’s dilemma.
At this point, thankfully, Sporto Guy started typing on his laptop, and he left me alone. But, of course, this ISN’T the end of my tale.
Sporto Guy went over and got himself a cappuccino and came sauntering back toward me smiling. “So, do you live around here?”
I could feel my face tightening, my jaws clenching, and I really just wanted to FLATTEN this guy (like Wiley Coyote in the cartoons :)). But, not knowing if he’s a mother-hating/just-got-dumped-by-someone-who-looks-a-lot-like-me/Hannibel-Lecter-Wanna-Be, I didn’t want to antagonize him. “No, I don’t.” I replied politely with a sigh that was supposed to indicate, I’M NOT INTERESTED! GO the fuck AWAY, but it didn’t work. I guess some guys need a SLEDGE HAMMER to their hand before getting the hint.
With a goofy grin, he glances around the bookstore scrambling to think of something to say. He sips his coffee and continues babbling, “Some of my jewelry is being showcased at the arts and crafts fair tomorrow at the VFW on Spring Street, and then, I’m leaving for another show in North Carolina.” As if this was really supposed to WOW me, as if he and his WORK were going on tour. “It’s a benefit for paralyzed veterans. You should stop by, see some of my stuff,” he said with another TOOTHY smile.
“No, I’m…” then, luckily, I was SAVED BY THE BELL, literally when my I-Phone started ringing. I glanced at the caller i.d., thrilled to see it was someone from the dealership. “Hello?” I said, looking away from Sporto Guy, who shifted his feet nervously. “Okay, thanks, Tom. I’ll be right there.” I said, hoping maybe he’d think TOM was my husband or something.
But still, Sporto Guy stood there, biting his lip, followed by a nervous grin. I hung up my phone, set it on the table and started to stash my book in my purse when Sporto Guy grabbed my phone and….
Yeah…took my picture. By the look on his face, it was obvious that Sporto Guy just realized he’d wasted $20 on whatever how to pick up women manual he’d bought because obviously I was rather non-plussed by his impromptu photo session, and DOUBLY NOT impressed by his Don Juan textbook manner of trying to score.
With an annoyed frown, I grabbed my I-Phone and my book and slid them both into my purse. As I stood up to go, I saw Sporto Guy’s business card on the table in front of me. I picked it up and glanced at the card, which read:Jensen Hart Jewelry Artist/Poet P.O. Box 543 Savannah, GA 31402 (800) 556-7298 email@example.com
“Maybe, you could email me that pic…” he began, but my giggle preempted the rest of his speech. I couldn’t help it. Despite my attempts to STIFLE my outburst and with all the stress from Danny, the urge to laugh was all the more difficult to control. I looked down and again, squelching another belt of laughter when I saw him slither away toward the coffee counter out of the corner of my eye.
I’m sorry, but POET? Have I suddenly been transported back to 1967? I guess seeing the word POET, I was supposed to follow him home and tumble into his bed like a $4-dollar whore.
I glanced across Starbucks where he seemed to be pretending to look at the carb-laden muffins in the glass case. With an embarrassed glance at me, he ordered a really big chocolate muffin from the barista. A good choice, I thought. Chocolate always makes ME feel better after I’ve made a complete ASS of myself.
I shuffled out of Barnes & Noble, feeling rather sorry for the Sporto I-Make-Jewelry Guy. I wondered maybe, if he’d been over in Iraq or something, given his thick-necked stature. And, maybe, he was having difficult acclimating to being back in the states. He looked like he was late 20s/early 30s, so such was possible, or MAYBE, he’s just a tool… 🙂
However, the REALLY funny thing was….
The NEXT day as I was driving back to Ohio
, I stopped at an outlet mall in North Carolina to grab lunch at the Food Court. As I was standing in line to order some Kung Pao chicken at the HUNAN LION, I saw Sporto I-Make-Jewelry Guy sitting at a table next to several other artists (all women), who were hocking their homemade quilts, hand-painted pots and wildlife drawings, etc. He was talking to a 20-something, rather skinny young blonde, who was giggling and obviously rather intrigued by his silver bracelet, studded with Turquoise chips. Turquoise chips seem to be a theme in his ART.
I quickly RUSHED to the other side of the Food Court to the pizza shop before he could see me. I didn’t want Kung Pao chicken badly enough to risk Sporto Guy seeing me and thinking I’d followed him or something, instead of the REAL LIFE coincidence that I just happened to stop at THE discount mall where he was showcasing his stuff ☺….and I truly hoped that the young blonde would fall madly in love with Jensen Hart, Sporto Guy, a.k.a. the Jewelry Artist/Poet….so he would stop hitting on married women in bookstores….just DON’T show her your business card… 🙂
PEACE OUT from my Stop and Smell the Crazy Life…