The Reader - Week 5
Coffee Shop Tryst
Andy checked his email: The header had a name from his past, his life before he met Evelyn, before her darkness settled in like an obnoxious house-guest. It was Sally, his ‘secret love’ from high school, replying to his invitation to meet for coffee. They had kept a tenuous relationship over the years—just enough interaction to keep it alive. When Sally had kids, the relationship had pretty well evaporated but when her children had grown and her obligations eased, they began to see each her again—at class reunions, over coffee; once they were at the same theater performance. Over the years she had moved, with her husband, several times but whenever she happened to be in the area they arranged to get together. This was one of those times. Andy replied with an OK, confirming the usual place-the F&M Diner.
When Sally appeared in the shop she was as enthusiastic as ever, projecting an almost child-like sense of joy. They got their coffees and she began to talk. Sally loved to talk. Andy liked to listen to her. Sally was completely without guile or, if she did possess any, Andy was unable to detect it. He never felt any need to read between the lines. He liked to hear the melody in her voice. Although they were sitting at a table for two, Andy quickly became aware of a third party: the one that always showed up when he was talking one-on-one with a woman: his libido. With the unvarying mantra: “Just do it!”, his primal urges had gotten Andy into trouble more than once. The libido’s stock-in-trade was the Stolen Kiss—usually welcomed—but, as the years rolled on, not so much. When Andy finally learned to ask first, he discovered that un-stolen kisses were much sweeter.
After about twenty minutes the conversation had turned to classic rock bands of the 60s and 70s: The Stones, The Doors, The Who, Pink Floyd, Led Zep…
“Led Zeppelin. That’s just ‘cock-rock,’” Sally said, “I liked The Eagles better.”
A mental image of Robert Plant’s endowments flashed in Andy’s brain, followed by Don Henly’s. The phrase “cock-rock” lingered in his ears. Andy wouldn’t try to kiss her now. He changed the subject.
As they compared notes on their recent life-stories, Andy had thought about the way he had fantasized about Sally over the years—not in a glamorous way—his thoughts would come while he was shopping for groceries. Wondering not about what their love-life would be like but, rather, about what their daily menus would be like. In one of his recent reading assignments, a technical paper, Andy had read that people who live together for a long time develop similar bacterial colonies in their bodies, becoming, in a sense, the same organism. But sometimes the colonies wouldn’t mesh. Well, that was one explanation as to why the relationship he had with Evelyn hadn’t lasted, he thought. Evelyn didn’t care much for Andy’s favorite foods, she also ate things that Andy couldn’t stand: bananas, peppers, celery. Had she really made a smoothie out of that combination once? The worst was turmeric on oatmeal. Evelyn ate that for breakfast.
Andy refrained from asking Sally about her turmeric consumption, some dreams should never be shattered.
The Reader is serial fiction, published every Friday.