Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I smell like lemon verbena.

I roll the lemon under my palms on the red cutting board. "Is it ok if I don't get all the juice out?"

"Oh, don't worry, we have plenty of lemons."

I rub the pulp into my hands and dry them on a towel. They are slightly sticky, but this is the one occasion where sticky hands will not bother me. It's hard to be bothered by anything when your favorite scent surrounds you. I breathe in deeply.

"Do you want this?" She's already given me beautiful cut-out paper birds, "from one of my showers," and a wooden utensil divider. Now a bottle of perfume, Anthropologie, because "it just doesn't smell sexy." She sprays her apron and I smell. Not sexy. But fresh-squeezed. I take it.

Earlier that day. Decide to take a giant step in the month of flirting with Barista and ask his name. Earlier plans have been foiled, and there is the other fact that I am a complete and utter pussy.

"How's it going, Erin?" He reaches for a 12 ounce paper cup, meant specifically for a cappaccino with a packet of raw sugar in the bottom and extra foam. His specifications, not mine. I don't even drink coffee, but am fascinated by the deliberation before each cup, handing me the drink and asking if it's ok, or saying that it's his best one yet, before punching my card twice.

"Good. And, I'm going to do something different." He puts the cup back in mock shock. "A 12 ounce iced americano, please." Sometimes I still want to say "Ich moechte,....,bitte."

He smiles. I need to know his name. This isn't too bad. I look cute today. I ask him.


Unusual name. "B******.... I knew someone named B****** in high school." I absentmindedly play with my punch card before putting it in my wallet.

"I know. That's me."

I look up. Stunned. As he hands me my drink, I realize I'm about seven years off in guessing his age, that he only graduated a year before me. I wonder when he cut his hair, grew a beard, changed. I wonder if he still plays piano....

"No way. Oh my God. I can't believe I didn't recognize you." I wonder when he recognized me. I'm so glad I didn't write my name and number on a Scrabble scoresheet before leaving it on the counter. I knew him when he and my friend's brother set their backyard on fire for a movie in middle school, when they went to the Younglife dance in full Halloween costumes, when I fucked up that performance my sophomore year and his mother turned around, to say something reassuring, but paused when she saw me crying. All of a sudden I am aware of everything, my hair frizzing out of my ponytail, the flush coming to my face, sweat on my dress, which tents out unflatteringly and hits right above my unshaven knees.

In the car, I start to laugh so hard I cry, or so I thought, until I realized I had surpassed laughter and tears and was just sitting, mouth agape.

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