Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Story of Misanthropy

Writing at Coffee Bean some time ago, I met a young man who seemed friendly at first, but went on to engage me in endless conversations. This happened several times, to the point where I considered abandoning that Coffee Bean location. His pointless talks squandered my time in increments up to and exceeding half-hours, during which I would nod politely as he asked me vague writing-related questions. I would respond with basic statements about story structure. He would enthusiastically agree and cite a barely-related example that would take us down yet another path I had no interest in exploring.

Today, at another Coffee Bean, I was again accosted by this young man. He greeted me cheerily and reminded me that we knew each other. "Oh yes," I thought. "I remember you. You're that guy I can't stand." Sadly, I think if he had been pleasant I probably would have forgotten him by now.

He talked at me for ten minutes or so, as I reluctantly held court on the importance of outlining a story, but it felt like twenty. He hovered over me, sipping his cup of water, while I quietly worried that he might spill some on my computer, but I pointedly did not offer him a seat. Occasionally he edged toward the seat across from me, even resting a hand on it, and I tried not to betray my sense of panic that he might sit down. I found myself staring at his stray nose hairs through most of the conversation, wondering how it was that certain hairs remained obediently within the nostril while a patch of others made a beeline for daylight as if partners in an escape plan. He seemed to have shaved his face more recently than his neck; the stubble on his cheeks and the front of his chin was short. The stubble on his neck, notably longer. To what end? Did he fear his chin lacked definition? It seemed okay to me.

Finally he said, "Well, good to see you." This was welcome in the sense that he was leaving, but unwelcome in the sense that he offered a handshake. As I extended my hand, I briefly spied a discoloration on his palm--can you get bruises there?--and when I shook his hand I felt swollen lumps, like he was wearing a glove with rocks inside. Afterwards, I brushed my hands on my jeans but couldn't get comfortable. There is an episode of Scrubs in which a germ is depicted as a green glow that passes from person to person. I felt the tingle of this green glow upon my palm until I finally surrendered to my OCD and went to the restroom to wash my hands.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nicely done. I'll have to start shaving my neck and nostrils. W. Schmidt