My feet are cold and clammy.
They’ve always been that way and to tell the truth, that’s how I met my husband. True story. I’m sitting at a table in Barnes and Noble. Smell of coffee in the air, muted hum of quiet conversation. A blender whirs, something sweet slides onto a plate. The book in front of me is ‘101 ways to turn Cellulite into cash’. I wasn’t convinced it was a real book, so I sat with an iced chai, spiced because I was feeling particularly feisty and opened the first page.
As is normal for me, I slipped my shoes off, and rested them, bare, on my sketchers.
‘Excuse me, may I sit here for a minute’. A strange man points to the chair opposite. ‘Seems there are no more free tables and I just have to send an email to my mother’ he said.
He looks about my age, scruffy the way men are after two days without shaving. His hair stuck straight up and meandered around the sides of his head in unruly sweeps. Goku would look neatly pressed compared to this guy.
Can you sigh mentally? I did. Another random dude hitting up a poor woman bent on loosing weight. I decided to play nice. I nodded at the chair and put on my serious face. It’s like all my other faces except in this one I bite my lip and focus furiously on what I’m doing. I use the same face when I’m typing and when I’m scrambling eggs.
He sits, and unfolds a laptop the size of a novel. I mean, come on, who uses a laptop that small? Not my business I tell myself and turn to the second page. There’s an illustration, hand drawn on the page. An elephant in a tutu sits daintily on an impossibly small chair and she’s painting her fingernails. The caption reads ‘Distract, don’t define.’ I turn the page.
The sound of rapid fire typing catches my attention. My table mate hunches over his tiny laptop. His hair falls untidily across his forehead, across a pair of glasses so thick, I swear I could see the pores on his face through the lens. He looks up at me guiltily. ‘Sorry’ he says, still typing like a madman. Was he really typing without looking?
‘I’ll be done in a minute. I don’t mean to disturb you.’
I realized I was staring. Biting my lip. He looked back at this screen and rattled off a machine gun wall of text that left me with quite a flutter. Nothing like mad keyboard skills to get me going. Quite rare these days.
The man typed the way I eat Peanut M&Ms. Without stopping, without looking, without breathing, without skipping a beat. Maybe it was the coffee, maybe it was the normalcy of the entire tableau. I still don’t understand what happened but he stopped suddenly and looked at me with a strangled expression. The way a cat looks when you try to give it a bath. Horror, mixed in with terror and a dollop of despair thrown in for good measure. My neighbor Brian, gets that same look whenever his wife goes to Kohls. Go figure.
I turn back to my book, I mean what else could I do? I never inspired horror, or despair for that matter. Most people think I’m cute. I’m only 5 foot 2. Funsized if anything. My strange companion looks like he swallowed a tadpole.
I sneak a peek up at him. He is still looking at me.
And then I realize something quite extraordinary. My cold clammy foot is no longer resting on my soft spongy sketchers. Actually its resting on something quite warm. And soft.
His eyes met mine for a long moment.
I turned the page of my book furiously. I daren’t look. What was happening here?
‘Ahem.’ He said.
My newfound table friend leaned back.
So I lean back too. He looks under the table. I squeeze my eyes half shut. I knew what I was about to see. I saw my foot, my cold clammy friend of 24 years, faithfully exfoliated with St. Ives Apricot foot scrub, every other toe painted a different color resting peacefully, almost prophetically, on top of my friends bare foot. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who liked to take shoes off to sit.
But I was the one who decided to take this casual table sitting to a whole new level.
‘Coffee?’ I volunteered, still biting my lip. For a long moment he hesitated. I mean, I practically threw my foot at him.
Then he laughed. We’re still laughing about it; to this day I can’t think of a better place to warm up the old clams. My table friend though, still reacts like a half drowned cat, every time I do it.