Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ladies & Gentlemen

After 8 hours at the office, I departed mid-afternoon and met colleagues at a coffeehouse near campus. Three of us settled at a large wooden table near the counter, sighing in the warm glow of a flickering fire in the corner and muted conversations from every angle. As machines hissed and sputtered, we sipped and went over presentations to ensure we were operating from the same - or at least a similar - perspective on a particular project.

I looked around as we chatted, admiring the plush bear head mounted on the wall. Everything felt rather sweet and soft, gently coaxing one to relax for a cloudy afternoon in the cozy building. We pondered and laughed at our table, taking notes - me on paper and Sibling on her laptop - as PrettyHair considered questions and offered insightful responses.

After two hours, I started at the sharp vibration on my right hip, moving quickly to withdraw my phone. "It's time to meet Adam," I told them. "Do you want to come with me? It'll be fun!"

"Why doesn't he come here?" PrettyHair asked, nibbling at the final smidgen of her pumpkin bread.

"He prefers alcohol to caffeine," I repeated what he told me. "So we're just meeting at the bar across the way there." I bundled up while Sibling decided she'd join us soon and PrettyHair opted out for the evening.

It was shortly after 5 when I parked the Jeep barely a half mile from where it had waited at the coffee shop and carefully made my way across the ice and inside the building. I wandered through the lobby, glancing at the mostly-empty dining room before selecting a stool at the bar and perching on the edge while I pulled coat sleeves from my arms.

"Riesling would be lovely," I smiled at the bartender when he suggested a house wine at my prompting. I pulled phone from pocket again, frowning at it and laboriously entered "Waiting..." before sending the impatient message. After doing so, I looked around the dim space and admired how the low light still sparkled off the wine glasses hung from the ceiling. I wished for a moment that I'd sent a message to a lover, awaiting his arrival after a long day at work. Perhaps we'd kiss briefly when he managed to arrive before chatting over a drink or two and, once relaxed, departing for one house or another.

Reminding myself not to grow despondent - I've long known such a man isn't coming regardless of how much I wish or long I wait - I sipped the semi-sweet, golden wine and tried to relax. Adam arrived only moments before Sibling and ordered a beer before distracting me with stories of furious bosses and delightfully messy politics at work. I stayed at the bar, comfortably sandwiched between two of my favorite people, and had more wine and a few snacks while we giggled and talked.

"I have to go," I finally said as my phone reported it was near 7PM. "I have a teleconference soon." Adam waved me away after I thanked him for covering the bill and I hurried back to the office some 13 hours after I'd arrived that morning. I took two such calls from my office, rather enjoying the way the lights automatically flickered off - save a few spots for safety - promptly at 7:30.

I walked slowly toward my car again just after 9:30, inhaling the freezing air and watching the Jeep's lights illuminate reassuringly when I pressed the button my remote. I considered my situation - the cozy warmth of peppermint tea and dark chocolate mochas with fabulous women followed by cheesy snacks, German beer and sweet wine surrounded - apart from Sibling - by men. I was tired while I completed my commute and greeted Chienne in a house that was deterioriating from cluttered to pit o' messiness, doing little other than nibbling on some pretzels and yawning as I climbed the steps to my room.

- Backdated from when I meant to write it.

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