Cheering Up

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Cheering Up

Liam stepped into the elevator and looked at the piece of paper in his hand that might as well have been diseased.  The idea of using a gift certificate in a fancy restaurant appealed to him about has much as owning a pet python with malaria, but Liam was not one to turn down a free meal.  He looked down at his tie and hoped that the purveyors of the establishment would concede that his baseball tie counted as dinner attire.  They served food, why couldn’t he serve up pitches and fly balls?

Liam noticed a glop of spaghetti from the last time he had worn his tie a few years ago and tried to scrape it off with his fingernail.  Not surprisingly, the stain remained as loyal to the fabric as Liam was to his precious Mariners.  Giving up the fight he had never cared much about in the first place, Liam buttoned up the lower half of his jacket and contented himself that the black blazer classed up his blue polo shirt and his sharpest pair of blue jeans.  His long beard made light rustling noises as they rubbed against the tie that clung to his neck while his bald head observed all the proceeding in silence.  His belly, which was not currently living in the realm of obese but in a very nearby suburb, growled at protested.  His desire to look presentable was quickly being outdone by his hope to down some tasty grub.

The elevator operator returned to find Liam talking to his stomach.  The man only nodded in recognition of Liam’s presence.  Liam sheepishly patted his stomach and looked to his loafers as another diner stepped through the doorway.  At the sound of heels clicking against the subdued linoleum, Liam lifted his gaze.  His eyes were met by a stunning woman laughing into her cellular phone.

Liam had been surrounded by his fair of attractive women, but he had never been able to find his footing before.  At the sight of her, Liam wasn’t even sure if he had feet.  The woman before him stood right in the middle of the elevator; there was no pretense that she was about to hide along one of the walls or wait for someone else to come in.  It was just the two diners and the staff member in the spacious elevator car and she was going to make herself comfortable.  She laughed quietly into the phone and the attendant caught her eyes.  He smiled politely and with the slightest gesture, his head directed her attention towards the “Please, No Phones” sign.  The woman nodded, made a hurried good-bye on the phone, and placed it in her purse.

“Sorry about that”, the woman apologized.  “I just had to give my dinner date some occupations.  I love him, but he gets lost like you wouldn’t believe.”  The staff member only nodded again, his face officially smiling, but his eyes detected more than a hint of, “yeah, you and everyone else” behind his expression.  Sensing his disapproval, the woman turned her attention towards Liam.  “And you sir, how are you this fine night?”

“Oh, just… I… think things are fine.”

“Just fine?” she asked.  “A lovely night in a fancy restaurant and you’re sticking with fine?”

“I always was okay with fine”, Liam replied.  “It’s a far sight better than lousy.”

The woman smiled at this and fished around in her purse.  As she did, Liam couldn’t help but notice her features.  He smile seemed to form a wide triangle and the top row of her perfect teeth shone back merrily.  Her nose was small and cute.  Pairing well with her light green eyes were the small oval-shaped glasses she wore over them.  Her round head came to a cute point under her chin and it was all topped quite nicely hair that came down just past her ears; hair he had thought was jet-black but now, shining underneath one of the elevators lights, revealed a tinge of brown to it.

Standing next to this vision, Liam felt even more underdressed than he had before.  While he was wearing loafers that have lived through two millennia, his fellow restaurateur was clad in a simple black dress.  This was not a “little black dress” that was brought out in sweeping romantic films.  This was a classic dress in the same way that Grace Kelly was a classic beauty.  It wasn’t overly sexy or showy; it simply draped elegantly and spoke for itself.  The summer night had allowed for jacketless attire, so the dress was free to breathe and move about.  It hugged around the waist, showing the woman’s pleasant hourglass frame, but the lower half lay comfortably at the side allowing her to walk freely.  The top half only just covered her shoulders and let her long arms showcase themselves.  At the same time, the dress covered all the uppermost portion of her chest.

Liam was about to turn his attention back outdoors to the view that was passing them by as the elevator car rose when something caught his attention.  Adorning her left wrist was a rather beaten-up, somewhat ratty wrist-watch.  Liam tested the atmosphere with a toss-away bit of conversation.

“Some ride up, huh?”

“Oh yes”, she replied happily.  “I think it is simply breathtaking.”

Liam considered offering, “you would know”, but instead stuck to his original path.  “That’s quite the watch you’ve got there”, he pointed as he spoke.  “Been with you a while, has it?”

“This?” she asked while holding out her long, smooth arm.  “This is my favorite watch.  It’s been around the bend and back again, but I can’t bring myself to replace it.  You can’t get this anymore; not since they changed the logos.”

“Changed the logo?” Liam dumbly replied.

“Take a look at it; you’ll see what I mean.”

Liam turned his attention fully towards the watch and couldn’t help but grin.  In the middle of her tattered and battered wristband was a clock face that only the true locals would appreciate.  Staring back at him was a Seattle Mariners watch.  But unlike all the baseball caps and jerseys he saw at every game, this one sported the old logo.  Instead of a multi-colored compass, a yellow and blue trident greeted him like an old friend.  She was right; nobody could get that sort of watch for cheap anymore.

“Did you buy that watch at face value?”  Liam immediately regretted his unintentional pun and found himself nervously playing with the buttons on his jacket’s cuffs.

“Actually, no”, she replied excitedly.  “My dad, the biggest baseball fan you could ask for?  He gave it to me on my birthday.  Then the two of us went out and saw them play that afternoon.  It was our little father-daughter activity.  Nobody else in the family really gets it.”  Her smile quieted after the last phrase.  A cloud of emotions swept across her eyes only for a second.  “He really did love baseball.”

“What, he’s one of those guys who thinks the game’s lost its heart?  ‘cause lemme tell ya something, he’s dead wrong.”

“Well, he passed on earlier this year.”

Liam could feel the ground calling out to him.  The only noble thing to do know was to throw his body from the elevator, let the ground claim his body, and bury his head in the sand.  That was the proper fate for someone who committed the level of egregious comments like his.  He looked to the attendant for help, but the man only winced and shook his head back and forth, feeling Liam’s pain.

While Liam was still stumbling for the words to make things right, the elevator arrived at the dining level and the doors opened.  Liam cursed the mechanism for not opening just seconds sooner.  The woman stepped out the doors onto the main floor and looked meaningfully to her watch.  The beginnings of a smile appeared on her mouth and she turned back to the interior of the elevator car.

“He would have liked your tie”, she said kindly.  “I do.”

Liam waved back as the automated doors slid shut.  Now that the two men were the only occupants left, Liam could express how he really felt.  Feeling the burden of presentation fade away, he walked up to the door and thumped his head once, twice, and a third time in defeat.

“I know man”, the attendant said sympathetically.  “That was pretty harsh.  But c’mon, she was worth the effort, right?”

Liam nodded.  “She certainly was nice.  I can’t resist a fellow fan.”

“And she was pretty… well, let’s go with pretty attractive.”

Liam nodded again.  “I don’t suppose I might just go back down, admit defeat, and call it a night?”

“You can’t do that!” the man exclaimed.

“Why not?  It’s over, done.”

“Yeah, but she doesn’t need to know that”, the man replied.  “If you go home, you’re admitting defeat.  You gotta show her you can make mistakes and come back from them.  So you struck out this time.  Does that mean you’re never gonna go to bat again?”

“Nice metaphor”, Liam replied.

“Hey, so you aren’t going to sip wine across from her tonight.  At least get back in there for yourself.  Get your self-respect back.  I mean, c’mon.  You’re all the way here.  We open that door, you step out, and the battle’s half over.  Besides, it’s a rotating restaurant.  She should at least be out of sight by now.”

“All right coach, put me back in.”

The doors opened and Liam made his way towards the waiting area.  No longer worried about looking nice, he unbuttoned his jacket and let his stained tie flap against his stomach.  He tried to cheer himself up.  He started to whistle, figuring his night could only improve from here.

Coming around the corner and not looking where he was going, Liam didn’t see the woman standing at the entry.  They both tried to regain their balance, but the force of Liam’s impact and the height of her heels did them in.  Like some sort of slow-motion collision that would repeat itself over the years in his mind, Liam watched as they fell to the ground.  The hostess hurried forth to help as nearby diners gasped in surprise.  Liam did his best to remove his weight from her, but the clash had only brought out his clumsy side.  His first attempt to get up resulted in him putting his hand on her stomach and pushing against it.  As soon as he saw what was happening, he moved his arm.  This time, and perhaps as awkwardly as before, his hand ended up on her outside of her thigh.

While all this was happening, Liam was doing his best to verbally make up for his lack of poise.  “I really am sorr… oops.  I’m not trying… oh, sorry.  I’m honestly not the type who…  Didn’t mean to touch that.”

“Kylie?” a new voice asked from behind them.  “Something you want to tell me?”

“Nate!”  Kylie extricated herself from Liam and rushed to the man.  She almost fell into him as her enthusiasm propelled her into his arms.  “You’re here!”

“That I am.  And… in time to help?”

“Oh, this.  It’s not what it looks like.  Well, it is.  Not that it’s a problem.  We just had a bit of a tumble.  It’s kind of funny if you look at it right.”

“Uh huh”, Nate answered, his gaze now intently on Liam.  “So I shouldn’t be worried about this guy?”

“I… I didn’t mean…”

“He’s fine”, Kylie replied.  “We had a conflict of timing, that’s all.  I’ll be okay.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes, I’m just glad you’re here.”

“I really didn’t mean anything”, Liam said.  “I wasn’t trying to be fresh.”

Nate was not convinced.  “Don’t you have your own dinner date to molest?”

“Nate!  C’mon now.”

Liam was relieved to see a waitress lead the idyllic woman away with her companion bringing up the rear.  Nate seemed quite set on looking back over his shoulder to check on the nefarious stranger, but Kylie elbowed him, and then pulled him close in a half-hug/ half-walking embrace.  The pair walked away, their laughter and obvious comfort with each other livening up the room. Liam saw a waitress standing a little ways off.  Even from the distance, he could tell that she was doing her best not to laugh at his awkward predicament.  She came closer as Liam made an attempt to brush the incident off of his clothes.

“Shall we?” the waitress prompted.  The two walked a few feet, the awkward silence quickly overcoming her.  “Quite a night, isn’t it?”

“Yeah”, Liam replied as he looked over his should towards the elevator one more time.

“Are we expecting someone else?”

“Nope, just me.”

“Ah, just here to take in the sights?” she asked as they passed the restrooms.

“Sure.”  Liam felt a new kind of shame join the other clans and he set about kicking it to the curb.  “Sorry, I don’t mean to be this rude.  It’s just been a long night.”

“Oh, that’s okay”, she said with understanding in her voice.  “We’ll just get you some food, how’s that sound?”

“I’d appreciate that.  And you’re… I mean…”

“Did you have a question, sir?”

“It’s okay if I pay with a gift certificate, right?”

“Certainly sir”, she said.  Liam could almost hear the peppiness drain out of her voice.  “We can accommodate you.”

“Thanks.”

“Well, here’s your table.  I’ll just get you some water.”

“Thank you”, Liam said as he sat down at the table.  A man clearing his throat drew his attention, but an instant later, Liam had wished he hadn’t.  The man named Nate, all six-foot-five of him, glared at him with the same furrowed brow Liam had tried to escape moments before.  Sure enough, across the table, mere feet away from Liam, sat Kylie.  She waved, and then turned her attention back to Nate.

The uncomfortable nature of the situation overtook Liam in seconds, and he reseated himself two more tables down.   This “Nate” fellow could no longer glare at him face to face.  He couldn’t stop his fellow diner from turning around in his chair and staring darts into the back of Liam’s head, but at least Liam wouldn’t have to see it.  He wouldn’t have minded if the woman had been in the man’s seat, but Liam chalked it up to the disaster that the night seemed determined to be.

Liam turned his attention to the window.  His friends had been right, the view was quite spectacular.  He could see hundreds of cars closing out the evening commute.  Their headlights joined into one red blur streaming away from the city.  The sunset had just ended, and the orange-pink sky bowed out so that the dark purple/black scenery could have its time on stage.  All seemed rather serene and soothing from his window perch.

Then he noticed the reflection in the window.  Without meaning to, Liam’s focus had shifted to the surface of the glass and there, as if someone had aimed the glass when it was installed, was Kylie.  The angle of her chair and the light in the room presented her right in front of Liam.  It was almost as if he was sitting across from her.  Liam considered moving tables again, but there were no vacant seats around except from the other one at his table.  If he moved to the other chair, he would be staring right at the two of them.  At least they couldn’t see his facial expressions in the current configuration.

Liam saw the waitress returned and quickly flipped open the menu that had been sitting on top of his plate.  He perused what few words were familiar to him and found that they had salmon.  Not looking at the way it was prepared or the taste, Liam ordered it.  He was determined to order and consume his meal despite the embarrassments that had already occurred.  But that didn’t mean that he couldn’t do it as quickly as possible and get his rear home.  Liam already pondered which classic baseball game he could pull up and watch again.  He could use a guaranteed victory tonight.

The twenty minutes that it took for his fish to arrive passed agonizingly slowly for Liam.  He tried to distract himself with the other diners, but Kylie, not surprisingly, kept being the source of all good things in the room.  Despite the awkwardness, despite this hulking figure that was probably her boyfriend, and despite the mistakes he had already made, Liam still wanted to be having dinner with her.  The way she laughed happily but quietly, letting her gestures and sweeping arms make up for her lack of volume.  The way the glasses caught the light in the room and lit up her eyes that much more.  And there was always the classic attire that she wore effortlessly.  Liam felt a series of “what if” scenarios pop into his head.  He tried to brush them aside.  Even if he had the physicality or social skills to do so, Liam was not the one to break up a happy couple.

At the table in front of him were a couple that Liam tried to smile at.  They were obviously in their retired years, the white-haired wig on her head and the few whispers of hair trying desperately to hang in there for him.  He put his wrinkled hand on hers, and their loose skin settled contentedly against each others.  Their skin has purple spots, their physique was starting to betray them, but Liam could tell they were as happy as could be even from his chair.  This couple had all the details of life figured out.  They could have tripped over a sea of clumsy Liams and still have found each other blindfolded.  Liam admired and envied them at the same time.  He was already bald, why not have the wife to remind him of it in a loving voice?

A dark shadow passed by and Liam couldn’t help but look up.  Nate was heading to the bathroom.  Sure enough, a quick glance in the window’s reflection confirmed that Kylie was alone at her table.  She had set aside her dinner and was trying to figure out how the staff folded the fabric into swans.  Liam gulped, took a deep breath, and darted over to her table.

“:Hey!” he said much louder than he had intended.

“Hey yourself”, she said, setting down the napkin.

“Look, I don’t want to bother you, but can I just say something before I leave you alone?”

“Sure”, she said, bracing herself by putting her arms in her lap.

“Okay”, Liam said while trying to steady his hands.  He could feel his nerve escaping and his hands clamming up.  “I’ve gotta make this quick before I lose my nerve.  But first off I want to apologize for the dad crack.  I didn’t know.  Obviously you cared about him a great deal.  And I’m very sorry for your loss and for that slip back there.”

Liam watched as Kylie’s eyes tightened shut.  They were slightly wet as she opened them and looked up.  “Thank you”, she said after she swallowed the small lump in her throat.  “I appreciate that.”

“I also wanted to apologize for knocking you over.  I wasn’t trying to get fresh, I was just distracted.  I don’t know you, but you clearly deserve more respect than you got there.”

“You mean when you were unintentionally groping me?”

“Yeah…  Sorry.  I tried to get back on my feet as quick as possible.”

“Because I’m just so repulsive?” she teased.

“No!  You’re anything but…”  Liam looked around for the words, but instead saw Nate step out of the bathroom.  “I won’t keep you anymore, but your date should be reminded of how terrific a person you seem to be.  I don’t know you, but you’ve been pretty great despite all my accidents and errors.  It’s not that you look completely stunning; it’s that you are clearly a kind person.  So hats off to you.  And your classy watch.”

At that, Liam brushed past Nate and hurried to his seat.  He tried to scarf down the last of his fish before the intimidating fellow could find a reason to come to his table.  Expecting to hear screams of rage from behind him, he instead heard a phone call.  Liam gulped down the last of his meal.  He pulled out his wallet and looked for money to leave a tip.  All he could find was a twenty.  He shrugged, chalked it up to his luck, and tucked it under the plate.  Liam started to stand when he felt a heavy hand push him down.  He didn’t have to look up to know who the hand belong to.

“Excuse me”, Nate said in his booming voice.  “But there’s something you should know.”

Liam fought the nervousness.  It was going to be a battle to keep his food down, but it was one he wanted to fight.  “Yes?” he replied, hoping his voice wasn’t cracking too badly.

“I have to go, that was home.”

“Home?” Liam asked confused.

“Yeah, the wife needs me.  I guess the kids are acting up.

“Wife?  But… I thought… isn’t…?”

“I can’t really stop and explain it to you.  Kylie probably wouldn’t mind straightening things out”, she said with a smile.  “My kid sister has really taken a shine to you.  Must be the tie.  I don’t get it myself”, he admitted with a shrug of his massive shoulders.

“So.. I mean, she wants me to go over there?”

“You’re not going to make my sister eat alone are you?  She got all dressed up for a birthday dinner.  You’re not going to ruin that, are ya?”

“I’ll… I’ll do my best.”

“Well there ya go.  Just… don’t go gettin’ all frisky again.  I don’t live that far away”, he warned.

“Understood”, Liam said with a smile.   “You have nothing to worry about.”

“Huh”.

“What?”

“That’s what she said about you.”  With that, Nate patted Liam on the back and made his way back towards the elevators.

Liam, still not sure what was happening, found his way back to Kylie’s table.  He didn’t know what to say, didn’t know what was happening, and had no clue what to do next.

“Well hello again”, Kylie said.

“Hey.”

“You’re back”, she said, smiling.

“I am.  I… well your brother…”

“Nate’s always been a little protective.  He’s a big teddy bear, really.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

“You okay”, she offered.  “Still trying to find your footing?”

“I’m trying to process.  I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing sitting here with you.”

“We’re just two sports fans having dinner.  Relax.  You can share my excitement.”

“Excitement?  How so?” Liam asked.  “You’ve got me intrigued now.”

“Good.  It’s a very thrilling gift.”

“What did you get that’s so great?”

“Nate gave me season tickets.  Two of them.”

“Wow!  That really is something.  Congrats.”

“Well, I told you my family doesn’t really get the whole baseball thing.”

“Uh huh”, he replied unsure of where she was going with the topic.

“So, y’know, if somebody wanted to tag along to a game or two.”

Liam wanted to maintain his composure, but he could feel his smile growing.  “I… I think that would be pretty great.”

“Good”, she replied.  “By the way, I’m Kylie.”

“Kylie, I’m Liam.”

“I am Liam?  Get a lot of jokes with that line?  You are the letter L, you are?”

“You’re the first”, he admitted.

“Really?”

“Yep.”

“Huh.  That’s weird.  Nobody’s made that connection before?”

“What can I say”, Liam replied.  “I think it’s a pretty safe bet I’ve never met someone like you before.”

Advertisements

About anecdotaltales
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Problems With Infinity

Confessions of a Delusional Maniac

Avoiding Neverland

A nomadic teacher's thoughts on preparing teens for life

Late~Night Ruminations

...for all the ramblings of my cluttered mind....

Short...but not always so sweet 💋

Happy endings are not guaranteed

Running Away To Booktopia

Because let's face it, reality sucks most of the time.

guclucy5incz5hipz

Exploring my own creativity (and other people's) in the name of Education, Art and Spirituality. 'SquarEmzSpongeHat'. =~)

The Land of 10,000 Things

Charles Soule - writer.

40 is the new 13

These are my 40s... what happened?

You're Gonna Need a Bigger Blog

This blog, swallow you whole

bottledworder

easy reading is damn hard writing

s1ngal

S1NGLE living H1GH thinking

Listful Thinking

Listless: Lacking zest or vivacity

Kim Kircher

Strength from the Top of the Mountain

The Byronic Man

We can rebuild him. We have the technology... Drier. Hilariouser. More satirical than before.

The One Year Challenge

A one-year chronical of no flirting, no more dating and absolutely no sex.

Beth Amsbary

Grantwriter, Storyteller

%d bloggers like this: