By Mary McLaurine
Is that pet hair on your coat sleeve? There’s enough there to make me wonder whether you’re an animal lover or perhaps you live alone with a cat and just don’t care enough to pick up a lint roller and remove it before you leave home.
On the one hand, if you’re an animal lover, this would be terrific because as fate would have it, so am I. However, if you just don’t give a damn about your appearance and the very obvious presence of animal hair on a fairly nice overcoat, I’m afraid I probably can’t love you.
These are the thoughts that run through my single-at-60 mind. The left side of my brain is way too judgmental while the right side is willing to entertain myriad reasons as to why that pet hair is there. Both have their place when it comes to love or the possibility of it.
I write. I write a lot. Sometimes when I have to get outside of myself to bring new perspective to a piece, I go to a coffee shop to stir the cavernous cauldron of rambling thoughts, ideas and possible story plots rising up in my brain, each jockeying for a chance at fruition. I set up my computer at my usual table and observe, wonder and drift into the world of Could I Love You’s.
Like you there, you are an attractive enough man, no wedding ring, well dressed and garner extra points for reading an actual book. You’re wearing a handsome watch. It’s not necessarily an expensive one and it certainly isn’t a contemporary one. I want to believe it belonged to your grandfather and was given to you by your dad in some ceremonial, right-of-passage into manhood talk the two of you shared. I believe family means a lot to you. You are a bit on the paunchy side but with moonlit walks along sandy beach shores or hiking the Appalachian Trail we could tone you up. Lord knows I could use it also.
Your pants are definitely not a color I would have chosen for you. Now, right-brain has me envisioning our first shopping trip together. Are you a patient shopper? A fun shopper? We are laughing as we make our first apparel decision together. It’s a sweater you are particularly fond of but me, I’m not so sure. Not a V-neck anyway. Will you insist upon it? Will you give in to my judgmental left brain demands or stand your ground and purchase what you like? I fantasize about these things while pretending not to look at you.
I sit staring and my keyboard wondering if you’re pretending not to look at me. I picture your last love as a svelte, sinewy, brunette in her late 40’s. What happened in your last relationship; who ended it? Left brain chimes in with expected judgment, “She’s was probably one of those granola-eating yoga gurus trying to find herself; what a bore. No wonder he left her! Right brain again defends, “They probably just grew apart, maybe she wasn’t ready to stop working and he wants to travel and spend time in quaint bistros while exploring the Mediterranean. It was probably very sad and hard on them both but I’m sure they parted with the utmost regard for one another.” Right brain is such a hopeless romantic.
If your ex-wife, girlfriend, or lover were sitting next to me, what would she be whispering in my ear? “He is SO anal about what colors he will wear and has the most atrocious taste; and if you think he’s bad, just wait til you meet his mother. Oh, yeah, lucky you, she’s still alive and quite involved in his life. He eats with his mouth open, too. Drove me nuts. He’s ok in bed, a little on the quick side but generous enough and quite clean, so there’s that.”
Could I love you?
Would those very pants you are wearing ever seem at home tossed across the bottom of my queen-sized bed? I see myself folding them, yet again, and hanging them up for you. I visualize the laundry basket with our clothes already intertwined within each other’s arms and legs and seemingly happy. Would we be seemingly happy intertwined?
I quietly imagine you walking over and asking politely if you might join me for a moment. My first response is a punch to the gut rejection based on further inspection and realization your pants are possibly polyester. “Hush up’, scolds my left brain. ‘What do you have to lose, let him sit for a moment’ my always optimistic romantic right-side brain queries.
“Sure” I quip in my welcoming yet reluctant voice. My imaginary conversation continues.
“It’s crowded in here today” you say with a fetching grin. His teeth are amazingly white for his age, left brain remarks.
“It is. Sometimes I feel guilty camping in here but I drink my quota of coffee and tip well so they let me stay” I muse. Right brain is intrigued, left brain is still focused on the quite white teeth.
“Are you working? I hope I’m not intruding or keeping you from it” you say with your brow furrowed enough to convey concern.
“Yes and no. I’m a freelance writer so I work when the spirit moves me. I’m never really sure when I’m actually working to tell you the truth.” You sound like a scatterbrained scarecrow in dire need of Ritalin left brain scolds. Leave her alone, she hates this part right brain defends.
“Ah, have I read you anywhere? Are you famous and just hoping for anonymity here in Starbucks?” you ask, unveiling a bit of humor along with your exceptionally white teeth.
“You may have come across me here and there but certainly nowhere that would require me to cloak myself in a veil of anonymity, not yet at least.” Left brain reminds me to further inspect the fiber content on those pants while right brain is trying desperately to find and feel a love connection, even if only on the most minute level.
“Do you come here often? I’m here every few days and don’t remember seeing you here” you inquire politely.
“I mix it up a bit. I seem to find inspiration comes easier when I change the scenery frequently.” Left brain reminds me of my ADHD scarecrow persona surfacing yet again. Scatterbrain.
“Perhaps next time we meet I could buy you a cup of inspiration?” you ask, rolling out the red carpet invitation wondering if I’ll accept your extended elbow.
“Perhaps” I answer, upping the ante with an eye twinkle and half smile.
And with that, you’re gone.
It was not a bad first imaginary meeting if I do say so myself. Left brain still isn’t happy I could draw no conclusive evidence as to the exact percentage of polyester in the pants but right brain is quite enthralled about our encounter and is excited to have something to anticipate and fantasize over.
I quickly snap back into real time as you actually pass by me and harsh reality corrects my poor posture. You have no idea I’ve already had an imaginary relationship with you and am secretly hoping you will be in again sometime soon. I think I would take my chances, gulp down my insecurity and make an attempt at light conversation with you.
It’s all just a mystery, isn’t it? We look around, imagine the best and the worst of a person we don’t know, wondering if, just maybe, this person is someone we could love. The right side of my brain, the happy, child-like, open-to-possibilities side skips past the obligatory first conversations, first dates, first arguments and first everything’s right into our imaginary life together. After all, why waste time on the frivolity of the rituals? If there’s no possibility I can love you, why waste your time and mine?
I’m older now, wiser, a let’s-get-straight-to-the-point woman who would rather be alone than an unfulfilled social butterfly winging her way from candidate to candidate only to find it all a boorish waste of time.
I’m sorry but not sorry, Mr. Man-I-Might-Be-Able-To-Love. My screening process is quite lacking of intellect and thus may prove futile but it’s all I have after all, a few fleeting moments to make a potentially monumental deduction.
And there it is, that which moves me. It’s that glint in the eye, that tiny twinkle that lets me know you have a brilliant sense of humor and are a confident man; I can tell by the way you joked with the barista about her purple nail polish. Charming but not creepy. Engaging but not intrusive. Both brains agree these are pleasing traits.
Now my two brains are calculating your odds, I’ll be with you in just one minute.
As you pass me on your way out, you glance my way, our eyes meet for a nanosecond. It seems there was a glint of familiarity and I wonder if you wondered about me. Did you sum me up in a single glance?
Did you notice it looks as though I only have half-eyebrows. I don’t know where the other half went, the part that extends over the outer part of my eye; they were just gone one day. My red Keds are a dead giveaway of my nod to my inner-child and one even has an almost hole in it. My blonde hair, which is actually mine, still boasts some faded turquoise color, a definite nod to my non-conformist “wild” side.
Did you wonder if I was too poor to buy a new pair of shoes since mine appear so worn? I could purchase new, but these are so comfy now. Did you think my half-brows were weird and that I should probably do something about them with a liner or eyebrow kit? Did you surmise I’m small framed and not of ample bosom? Darn it, you love ample bosom. Too bad. Next.
And so it goes.
I glance down at my cursor, begging to be pushed forward on the blank screen staring at me and I oblige.
Is that gum stuck to the bottom of your faux leather boot?
Mary is a writer and blogger living in Maryland. She has two sons, supposedly grown and flown but periodically crash land back into the nest. She has a grandcanine, Otis the Mighty Beagle whom she may or may not actually love more than her boys. She blogs at The Heart of Sassy Lassie, mainly about trying to find humor in all of life’s ups and downs. She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, on Washington Post, Huffington Post, Elephant Journal and several other sites. She has strong ancestral ties to Scotland and feels that although she has never been there, she’s lived there all her life.