Coming Home

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” -Lord Byron

**********

Okay, there’s Seventeenth.  Here’s Eighteenth.  Twentieth can’t be that far away.

I was late.  I hate being late.  And for all errands that life offered, I was on a mission for some lousy teeth.

There are millions of people that care about how their teeth look.  Models and actors are paid big money to have great smiles.  I am none of those things.  My teeth need to break up pieces of food and keep my tongue in check.  That is all.

My dentist is of another mindset.  She is dedicated to making every smile look perfect.  She thinks that means straight, uniform, and pristine.

“I can’t retire until I finish off your front row”, she has often told me.  You would think I would have some say in the matter.  I am the one footing the bill and all.  Plus, there are our respective sizes.

My dentist measures at four feet tall.  I grew past her in middle school.  At over six feet, I still had not gained the upper hand.

It could be because I try not to pick battles.  She is a genuinely nice person.  Let it not be forgotten, she has very sharp tools that pierce, grind, and gouge around my overly sensitive gums.  If the person in charge of the numbing agents is on a mission, you comply.  I try to stay on her good side.  She might “accidentally slip” while trying to make her point.

That is why I was spending my day off like this.  Wandering the streets that I thought I knew around a lake I had seen countless times before.  The problem is that roads in mixed residential areas tend to curve.  The roads in their square grids collide with the curve of nature and the terrain.

Eighteenth Avenue was followed by Forty-Seventh.  The sam hill?  I didn’t just skip thirty blocks in a minute, right? 

Once upon a time my dentist would do everything in house.  Or, in office, I guess.  She would drill the tooth, empty it, and plug the tooth.  Done.  If it was extreme, we would have to wait for some miniscule piece of gold to be custom crafted.  By and large though, it was nice and simple.

No longer.  “See, they have these machines that can do a three-dimensional scan of…”  “Your section of the gums needs an insert so that the teeth below don’t…”  “If I send you to the lab they can custom-shade the tooth to its neighbors giving it a more natural…”

I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and took a moment to fume.  The directions from the bus stop had told me where to depart.  I had.  The directions had told me to walk a route.  I had.  So where was this dadgum place that would look at my tooth, which I did not care about, and turn it a shade that I had no opinion on?  I felt my annoyance in my jaw.

Maybe if I grind my teeth enough, there will be fewer surfaces for her to tweak.

In desperation, I made a turn onto a side road.  Yelm Street sounded peaceful enough.  I walked determinedly along its cracked concrete path as the houses crowded my peripherals.

A purple door?  Okay, if that works for you. 

No house should ever be painted entirely in bright yellow. 

But it’s still better than having a house with a three car garage.  And you have four cars parked outside!  Do your mortgage and your car insurance payments have arm-wrestling matches?  Dear word…

That is when I saw it.

I had turned off of Yelm, onto Birch, and found myself looking at a neighborhood book nook.  Normally people would make a small box, a square maybe a foot by foot in size.  The structure I was in front of was entire booth.  It was not painted.  It was stained.  The knots and rings were there for all to see and the recent rain had given it a nice texture.  There was a bench, just big enough for one person, nestled inside this creation.

I liked to see what collections of books were contained in these complimentary depots.  It seemed there was always a classical work or two, some pointless romantic debauchery, a middle installment of a series I had never heard of, and a book that had been wildly popular seven years ago.

large-black-slug-2I stood in between the bench and the books.  At my foot appeared to be a slug with its ooze trail leading towards the shelter.  I try not to kill animals in their natural habitat.  If they set foot (or whatever it is that slug “walk” on) inside my domicile, they are exterminated.  But nature is their domain.  So I lifted my shoe and tried to scoot the little guy over a bit.

The slug would not move.  I shoved and nudged, only to find that it was anchored to the floor.  I knelt down.  The” slug” was actually a carved piece of wood.  It was attached to the ground.  I brushed aside the leaves, the dirt, and the tiny bits of paper that had gathered around.  Underneath all the debris was a piece of wood.  It was a hatchway.

I looked at my watch.  I do not like to be late.  But one has to have priorities.

They’ll understand!  There’s a frickin’ escape hatch in the middle of the sidewalk!  Who isn’t going to go down a secret pathway in the middle of suburbia!  C’mon!

Tossing responsibilities aside, I grabbed hold of the knob and pulled.  The plank resisted at first.  With more effort, paired with a creaking noise, the hatch rose up to meet me.  My eyes fell upon a wood ladder and electric lights that beckoned me in.

I looked around one last time.  I pondered if some neighborhood warden or community watch group representative would jump out at me.  If I was not allowed to climb a water tower, was it okay to descend into this mysterious tunnel?

There was no one around to stop my adventure.  I lowered my legs onto the fourth and fifth rungs.  I grabbed the top rung sturdily with my right hand.  I pulled the door over my head and began my descent.

The ladder was not overwhelming.  I climbed down three or four flights and then found my feet on solid ground.  The lighting fixtures were hardly modern.  They looked like something one would find in a bunker.  They were affixed to the wall in a purely practical fashion, metal bars covering the bulbs.  The wire was strung and stapled loosely along the ceiling.  What really captivated me was the interior itself.

The floor, walls, and ceiling, were all of aged wood.  Oak, spruce, pine, cedar, it was as if an entire forest had been used to construct this space.  None of it appeared to be machine-processed.  Some of the lines were a little off.  I noticed a knot or two that jutted out slightly from the wall.  Every surface had been planed, sanded, and finished.  The walls were sealed.  The structure appeared sturdy.  Yet the craftsmanship did not yield to the demands of perfection.  I could almost hear the workers at the end of the day clap their hands together, take a step back, and say with contentment, “Yep.  That’ll do.”

Leaving the ladder and hatchway behind, I ventured farther into the structure.  I encountered a mighty hallway.  Giant oaks stood as pillars some thirty feet high.  They maintained some of their limbs, now used to hold more lights and crossbeams.  I walked and walked and the columns still stretched in front of me.

Slowly, the noise level began to rise.  What had been a soft murmuring grew into crowd noises.  A belly laugh echoed from an unknown older fellow coming from the right.  I heard a glass break to the left.  A whooshing sound caused me to duck.  I fell to the ground as something flew over my head and screamed.

From the floor I was able to get my bearings.  The hall opened up into a large space.  Immediately in front of me was a giant swing.  The rope, long enough to hold someone three times my height, was attached to a wood seat that was occupied by an ecstatic child.  Her pigtails flapped about without a care.  Each back and forth of the seat seemed to last ages.  The girl couldn’t have been happier.

“Oh, shoot.  You okay?”  A man with an apron and short curly hair rushed forward.  His plaid shirt fit with the décor, as did his strong arms that pulled me to my feet.  “We don’t get a lot of people using that entrance”, he apologized as he ushered me off to the side.

“What… what is this?”  I stammered as I tried to make sense of it all.  “Who is ‘we’?  Where am I?”

“Ah, a first timer”, the man said as he chuckled.  Taking the cloth he had tucked in the back of his belt, he did his best to brush the debris off of me.  “My name’s Thomas, and welcome to The Chapel.”

“Chapel?”  I looked up to the roof with its cathedral-like height.  “I can see that…”

“Well sure”, Thomas said.  “There’s more to it than that, though.  See, it’s an acronym of sorts.  The best we can understand it, they started listing off the types of trees that were used to make this place.  We got ourselves some Cedar, some Hemlock, a bit of Adler, plenty of Pine, lots of Evergreens—“

“Which is only the first of the flaws in the silly name of yours”, a new voice interrupted.

“You’ll have to forgive Stuart.  He… well, he has opinions.”

“I should not be listened to because of my opinions”, Stuart replied.  “I should be respected because of the factual nature of my comments and the lack of such in yours.”

black-moustache-clipartStuart took a moment for me to comprehend.  A bit shorter than average, he made up for it with a slight bulge around the sides of his shirt.  The sleeves on his white button-up were rolled up past his shoulders and creased immaculately.  His black shoes had a picture-perfect polish about them.  The moustache that took up residence on his face caught the light like only waxed areas could.  The tufts of hair threatened to overwhelm his features should the two waves of follicles ever crash into each other.  All this was less noticeable than the top hot that added a good six inches to his height.

“As I was saying”, Stuart continued as his moustache moved and jostled excitedly like two baby seals fighting for a fish.  “Allowing Evergreens as a key feature of the acronym is ridiculous.  It is more of a category or genre of tree while the other titles can be confined to a species.  Using Evergreens in a title conflicts with the others and should therefore be rejected.”

“I mean, you could always use Elm trees”, I offered.

“Elms?”  Stuart shook his head violently back and forth.  His top hat considered jumping off to a more stable resting place, but it hung in there long enough for its owner to pull it down securely.  Gesturing about the great structure, Stuart turned his gaze menacingly on me.  “Do you see any Elms here, sir?”

“Uh… no?  I have only been here about five minutes though.”

“Well I have been familiar with these grounds for over seven years”, he said with an air that was equal parts defiant and regal.  “I can assure you, no Elms were used in the construction of this majestic space.”

“Stuart thinks we should call the place ‘Chaps’.  Drop the ‘E’.”

“I think no such thing”, Stuart said as he rebuked Thomas.  “I am confident that a place like this needs no pithy name.  No label is required.  Putting a title on this building in no way enhances its existence.  Let it be.”  He nodded in agreement with his own statement and made his way to the nearby tables.

“What does the ‘L’ stand for?”

“Shh!”  Thomas rushed forward and waved his hands in front of me franticly.  “We’ve already woken the beast.  Best not to poke it with a stick.”

“What do you mean?”  I asked quieter this time, “what does the ‘L’ stand for?”

“We never really figured that out”, Thomas said as he leaned in close.  “Logs.  Lumber.  Something like that.  It drives him crazy.  ‘Chaps’ is a no-go, though.  It makes us sound like we have a mechanical bull.  Or that we’re a male strip club.  And I didn’t sign up for that.”

“Fair enough”, I said as I tilted my head and took in the people around me.  “That Stuart.  He sure is… curious.”

“Don’t pay him too much mind”, Thomas said.  “He’s our resident history buff, sure.  But he hasn’t even been here a year yet.”

“But he said—“

“Nope”, Thomas corrected.  “He’s been around the place for seven years.  As in, he came in the door once or twice before he started working here last year.  But he’s hardly the pro he claims to be.  Drops more things than any three staff combined.  That top hat keeps falling over his eyes.”

“Yeah that is quite the—“

“Affectation?”

“I was going to say ‘quirk’”, I offered.

“He’s got to keep all his opinions somewhere”, Thomas laughed.  “And they’d never all fit in a baseball cap.”

“So this Chapel”, I said.  “What is it exactly?  I mean, it’s not…”

“A cult?  Nope.”

“Did I say cult”, I asked surprised.

“Oh”, Thomas said.  “Sorry.  Some folks see us in our ‘bunker’ and start assuming.  The Chapel is a gathering place.  A restaurant that’s short on menu items and big on recreational space.  Our menu’s only one page and that’s fine with us.”

“How long has this been here?  How’ve I missed it all these years?”

“Now that’s where Stuart comes in handy.  See, we’ve got all kinds of junk and papers scattered around here.  He’s the one that who delved into all of that.  I can give you the general idea though.”

Thomas gestured towards a nearby table and pulled out a high-back pine chair.  He motioned for me to take a seat while he sat in the chair opposite.

“Near as we can figure, this place has stood for about an hundred years.  Folks came out here to start logging.  Clear the ground for new folks coming in while making a living off the tree industry in the process.  This is the early 1900’s, mind you.

“These guys, they knew that sooner or later they’d have to find a way to get their lumber out of here.  They started off clearing a long, straight path where a railway could be placed.  Chopped down all the trees for the route, got the ground nice and clear, and flattened the land for those tracks.

“The problem with that plan was that they had to find a railroad to connect to.  Then World War I comes around and these guys find that their Sitka Spruces are in high demand.  And they still have plenty of hills and rocks between them and civilization.  Happily, right about that time, logging trucks start coming around.  So they ditch their plans for the railway.  But they’ve got plenty of extra trees that they’ve cut down to get to the spruce.  And they got lots of workers that don’t want to sleep out in the cold or trek back to town.  That’s when they started building this massive place.

“We don’t know how they got away with it”, Thomas said with a shrug.  “You’d think those wars would take all the trees they could get their hands on.  But it appears that they didn’t have a whole lot of oversight.  Long as the spruce trees kept coming, the bosses didn’t worry too much about it.  Plus it seems like all the loggers’ free time was spent on building this place.

“Then they spent the years after the wars finishing this place.  They didn’t ever finish the rest of the land like they’d planned to.  Sure they built road for the trucks.  Most of them got turned into what are the neighborhood streets.  That’s why they all have tree names.  The building itself?  They let it reside comfortably in the terrain.

“It’s not the first time this sort of thing has happened.  Plenty of cities have been built right over to make way for new roads and buildings.  You can go on tours underneath the new city and see all the old structures and leftover boilers and things like that.”  Thomas sat up a touch straighter and grinned.  “The big difference between those places and ours is that our place never closed its doors.  People have been using this building continuously the whole time.”

“That’s so cool”, I said, enthralled by my surroundings.  “I’m trying to figure out how I didn’t know about this place before.”

“You have to remember that progress kept going all around”, Thomas offered.  “We have houses built on all sides of us.  They rest on top of that hill over here.  Then there’s that development over there.  We still have a fair number of trees on all sides of us too.  That’s the thing about naming roads after trees.  People want those streets to be filled with the plants they’re named for.  Plus, with all the terrain and hills, about two thirds of our structure is underground.  From the street, we’re only a narrow entryway that looks like a church or an old library.  And six days out of seven, everybody’s going to drive right by this place.”

“You don’t advertise?”  I looked at the bustling staff and couldn’t comprehend it.  “No sign out front?  No online reviews?”

“We never really saw the need.  Plenty of people come through here.  You should see the nights we tie the swings up and put out our wooden bowling pins.  Floor’s not as flat as some might like, but it still draws a crowd.  It sure makes an awful echoing noise whenever someone gets a strike, though.  Every few years we get some fancy acrobats coming through and they have a grand old time, hooking up their gear from the rafters and putting on a high-wire show.  Little skinnier arena than they’re used to, but they say it keeps them fresh.

“They all found their way to our doorstop.  If too many people show up, it’ll lose something.”  Thomas pulled the cloth from his belt again and concentrated on sopping up a small puddle on the table.  “We’d get too busy.  Couldn’t have the one on one that we all like.  Or they’d try to replicate it.”

Thomas shook his head.  A tinge of frustration started to build in his voice as he rubbed at the table.

“A businessman would come across us and try to market us.  Try to recreate our structure in some mini-mall.  Then we’d have to pay for their advice.  We’d have to raise prices.  We’d have to bring in more customers.  We’d be obsessed with perspectives and expected growth and…”

Thomas put the towel behind his back and shook his head.

“It wouldn’t be worth it.  We’re doing fine.  Those that need to find us; well they make their way to our doorstop when the time’s right.  You can’t force these things.”

“True enough”, I replied.  “’When the student is ready, the master will appear.’”

“Ain’t that the truth?  Though we are saving up money to replace our septic tank.  Some improvements would be nice”, he admitted.

800px-Lid_of_a_rural_septic_tank“The first patent for a septic tank was granted in 1881”, announced a familiar voice.  “Of course, those earlier contraptions began failing in the 1960’s.  We should have addressed that years ago.  And the two-prongued outlets?  Come now.”  Stuart shook his head and sent his hat wobbling once more.  “Surely we can upgrade and simultaneously continue to provide the environment our clientele desires.”

“The man’s got a point”, Thomas agreed as he stood up and pulled a pad from his front pocket.  “I figure I’ve yammered at you long enough.  You hankering for a meal or something?  Some flapjacks?  Gritz?  First meal’s on the house.  Maybe you want to sink your teeth into a heaping plate of biscuits and gravy?”

Crud.  Teeth. 

“Sorry, I’m actually late for an appointment”, I said as I rose to my feet.  “I’ll definitely come back though.”

“Let me at least show you an easier way out of here”, Thomas offered.  “There is less of a likelihood of the swings bonking you on the noggin at the main entrance.”

I watched as the building widened out for the tables and main gathering area, then thinned itself down by a plain set of oak doors.

“Here ya go”, Thomas said as he pulled one of the door opens.  “Now you know where to find us.”

“I sure do”, I replied.  “Thanks for the tour, Thomas.  It’s been a pleasure.”

“Anytime… How about that?  I forgot to ask your name.  My bad.”

“Not a problem.  It’s Wilson.”

“Be seeing you soon, Wilson”, Thomas said as he went back inside.

I walked out to the street and turned around.  Looking at it from the outside it was an unassuming building.  The frame appeared to be tall and narrow, but altogether average.  It was wedged between houses with overturned tricycles on their lawns and parked vehicles.

I had passed the road before.  Yet I had not known what to look for.

I walked to the corner and regarded the nearby street sign.  In what I took to be a mocking tone, it declared itself boldly:  Twentieth Avenue.

Questionable Circumstances

A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.” -Bruce Lee

(I was asked to write a play.  I took a little David Ives inspiration and crafted what you see below.) 

**********

Characters: 

Karen, in her mid-late twenties is an attractive/athletic woman wearing standard drab-looking uniform.  She’s a little haggard from the day she’s having, but still a sight for sore eyes. 

Lucas is in his early thirties.  He’s no poster-boy, but he does alright for an average fellow if he’d remember to run a comb through his hair.  He’s a smart cookie, prone to playful discussions on nerdy topics.  

 

Location:  An apartment hallway.  Karen stands with a small box and clipboard in her hand in the hallway on one side of the door while Lucas is in his rather disheveled apartment on the other side of the door.

 

(Knock on the door, Lucas opens it to find Karen standing there in a delivery uniform holding a small box)

Lucas:  May I help you?BenBois_French_parcel_post

Karen:  Is this 624 81st Ave, Suite #512?

Lucas:  Does this look like an office complex?

Karen:  Is that a no?

Lucas:  Are you a lost?

Karen:  Did you order a parcel?

Lucas:  Who wants to know?

Karen:  So you’re not expecting a delivery?

Lucas:  Did I say that?

Karen:  Have you said anything helpful yet?

Lucas:  Would you like it if we started over?

Karen:  Are you going to answer any of my questions this time?

Lucas:  What can I do for you?

Karen:  Is this the office for Mortimer VanHoffner?

Lucas:  You really think I’m a Mortimer kind of guy?

Karen:  Can’t there more than one type of Mortimer?

Lucas:  What kind of parent would subject their kid to that kind of name?

Karen:  (laughs)  How do they ever fit his full name on forms?

Lucas:  Do you think that Mortimer is ever not mortified or mocked because of his morose moniker?

Karen:  How long have you been holding that joke in?

Lucas:  Why should I reveal such personal information to a complete stranger?

Karen:  Did you ever ask my name?

Lucas:  Do you know for a fact that my name isn’t Mortimer?

Karen:  Would it help to smooth things over if I told you I’m Karen?

Lucas:  If I introduce myself as Lucas, will you promise not to call me Luke?

Karen:  Got some identity issues, do you?

Lucas:  Got some directional issues, do you?

Karen:  You think this is funny?

Lucas:  Do you know that this is the most fun that I’ve ever had answering my door?  Do you think I have lovely women come knocking every day?

Karen:  Should I be happy for you?  Are you going to help me or what?

Lucas:  Don’t they give delivery drivers directions?  Or better yet, maps? 

Karen:  You’re some sort of expert at this?

Lucas:  I have to deliver packages to know that it helps to have a final destination for them?

Karen:  Haven’t you ever depended on the kindness of strangers?

Lucas:  What’s an attractive gal like you doing schlepping around boxes for a living?

Karen:  Did I say this was my career job?

Lucas:  Was I given any evidence that it wasn’t?

Karen:  Do you know how hard it is for a Stanford graduate to get a job with benefits these days?

Lucas:  So you’re not a professional?

Karen:  What sort of insinuation are you making?

Lucas:  You didn’t think I was calling you a “professional”, did you? 

Karen:  Were you?

Lucas:  That would be pretty stupid of me, wouldn’t it?

Karen:  Have you ever felt a door slam in your face before?imagesCAQQ7I83

Lucas:  Do you make a habit out of breaking guys’ hearts?

Karen:  What?

Lucas:  You wouldn’t intentionally stomp on my feelings would you?  You wouldn’t be so cruel as to walk away from all this fun we’re having, would you?”

Karen:  This is your idea of fun?

Lucas:  You’re not enjoying it?

Karen:  Is this how you would spend your lunch break?  Do you know what it’s like to have the boss track every second of every day?

Lucas:  So it’s not me you’re irked at; it’s your job?

Karen:  When did I say that I don’t like my job?

Lucas:  Do you love your job?  Do you find it challenging?

Karen:  Do you know how challenging it is to get you to answer a question?

Lucas:  Do you realize how hypocritical it is of you to ask that?

Karen:  Are there women in the world that find this charming?

Lucas:  You don’t enjoy a debate here and there; a conversational crossing of swords?

Karen:  You don’t really get out much, do you?

Lucas:  And you do?

Karen:  Would you believe that I like to have a little more fun than you do?

Lucas:  How so?

Karen:  Have you tried going out?

Lucas:  To where?

Karen:  You’ve never heard of clubs?

Lucas:  Aren’t those places designed to make your ears bleed?

Karen:  You’re going to make assumptions just like that?

Lucas:  Are you saying I’m wrong?

Karen:  You’ve never been to one, have you?

Lucas:  Did I say that?

Karen:  What about restaurants?

Lucas:  What about them?

Karen:  Do you ever eat out?

Lucas:  Why do you ask?

Karen:  Aren’t there three pizza boxes stacked in your trash can over there?

Lucas:  How do you know that I ate all those myself?  What if I have a girlfriend?

Karen:  What girlfriend would come over to a place like this?

Lucas:  What’s that supposed to mean?

Karen:  Do you carefully position rat traps around your living quarters, or do you just throw them around and hope for the best?

Lucas:  Why are you so dead-set on me having rats?

Karen:  Would it be a big surprise?

Lucas:  What if I promised you that I’m just going through an unorganized streak?

Karen:  Are you trying to set some sort of record?  Is there an official from Guinness adding up the days?

Lucas:  Haven’t you heard that all geniuses are messy?

Karen:  So you’re a genius now?

Lucas:  Did I say that?

Karen:  Didn’t you imply that?

Lucas:  Would you agree that we’re both reasonably intelligent people?

Karen:  Who in their right mind would describe anything about this whole ordeal as reasonable?

Lucas:  Why don’t you just accept that I’m a fairly nice guy?

Karen:  What sort of nice guy doesn’t offer a hard-working gal who’s been driving around all morning the opportunity to use a restroom?

Lucas:  Do you need to use the facilities? 

Karen:  Can’t you tell when I’m kidding?

Lucas:  You’ve figured out by now that I’m not Mortimer, right?

Karen:  Mortimer would have offered me a drink by now, why haven’t you?

Lucas:  What if I was hoping to get you a drink later?

Karen:  What’re you trying to say?

Lucas:  What happens if I ask you out?question_cedric_bosdonna_01

Karen:  Wouldn’t you find out if you actually tried?

Lucas:  Are you the kind of woman that gets offended when guys try to hit on her at work?

Karen:  Do you get a lot of people telling you that your apartment looks like a mail and parcel service depot?

Lucas:  So you’re not afraid of me, but you’re afraid that I breed rats?

Karen:  Don’t you get by now that I was teasing you?

Lucas:  Do I strike you as the sort of person who likes to be teased?

Karen:  You’re used to dishing it out, but not taking it, aren’t you?

Lucas:  Did I say that?

Karen:  Is that a no?

Lucas:  They don’t make many women like you, do they?

Karen:  Are you complimenting me?

Lucas:  Isn’t it obvious?

Karen:  You don’t have much practice in all this, do you?

Lucas:  So why are you letting me fumble so?

Karen:  Can’t a girl have a little fun? 

Lucas:  Do you ever wish that things were different?  Do you wish you could take a break from the same old activities with your friends and find that one someone who gets you more than anyone else?  Don’t you yearn for that one person who you know you can call after a hard day and they reassure you that everything’s going to be all right?  Don’t you wake up some mornings; look at the things in your life, and wonder?  What if this is all well and good, but there’s that certain person that could make everything seem a thousand times better just by having them in your life?  Do you even know what I’m talking about?

Karen:  Have you been reading my diary?

Lucas:  Should I?  Are there really juicy parts in there?

Karen:  You’d love to know, wouldn’t you?

Lucas:  Am I helping my chances here?

Karen:  What if I told you that you were right?  What if I listed off the long string of guys who spent more time in the bathroom working on getting their hair to look disheveled than they did asking me how my day was?  What if I was tired of being around guys who did their best to have a “good time” with every female in the room while stealing money from my purse?  What if I told you that my most recent relationships were more interested in themselves than my opinion?

Lucas:  Why don’t you try something new?

Karen:  Something along the lines of the Lucas 2000?

Lucas:  Haven’t you heard the buzz about the many daily stresses I cure and soothe?

Karen:  So you’ll give me a backrub at the end of a hard day?

Lucas:  You’ll push me to try some new adventures?

Karen:  You don’t have a prison record, do you?

Lucas:  How long do you think I would last behind bars?

Karen:  You don’t think an orange jumpsuit would suit you?  What about me?  You’re not just asking me out because of how I look in this uniform, are you?

Lucas:  Who told you about my love for industrial tones?  Who could resist a woman in baggy clothing and cotton baseball caps?  Don’t you know the allure those oil stains and wrinkles have over a man?

Karen:  Would you believe that I clean up nice?

Lucas:  Can I ask you to think the same about me?

Karen:  What if I assure you that I take my dates very seriously?  Do you realize how much I like dressing up after wearing this all day?  Can you imagine my hair coming down, the slinky dress, and a desire to have fun?

Lucas:  (nervously clears throat)  Is it getting hot in here?

Karen:  What about you?  Do you have a pair of shoes that aren’t tennis?  Have you ever used shoe polish?  You look pretty handsome in a button up charcoal shirt and a nice pair of slacks, don’t you?

Lucas:  So… you’re saying I’m allowed to ask you out?

(The two smile with each following question.  They only get more eager with each possibility)

Karen:  It sounds like that’s the case, doesn’t it?

Lucas:  Will you go on long walks with me?

Karen:  Will you distract my mother when she starts asking me why I’m not married?

Lucas:  Can we stay up late just talking about the thoughts in our heads and the hopes that we have?

Karen:  Will you open doors for me and not answer your phone when we’re in the middle of a date?

Lucas:  Are you okay with the fact that sometimes I’ll have a collection of cardboard boxes and take-out containers here and there?

Karen:  Am I allowed to vent when people cut me off in traffic and I want someone to listen to me?

Lucas:  Don’t you think the possibility here is rather fantastic?

Karen:  (teasing)  You realize that at some point I have to go find this Mortimer guy’s office, right?

Lucas:  Are you free for dinner?

Karen:  When?

Lucas:  Could it be soon?  Don’t you want to strike while the iron’s hot?

Karen:  Is that really the best you can do?  Can’t you ask a gal out a little better than that?

Lucas:  Hey Karen, you seem like a rather fantastic person that I would like to get to know much better.  Would you let me take you out to dinner after work tonight?

Karen:  Of course I will, Lucas.  Thanks for asking.

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