Sunday, 31 August 2014

Boy Meets Girl...Sooner Or Later.

When he was fifteen years old, the boy was allocated a job at a major bookstore for Work Experience as part of his studies in Year Nine. Schools did this in order to give students a taste of The Rat Race. To give them an idea of what it's like to turn up to a job at nine am and work through till five pm. This was an arrangement usually organised between the school and an employer or organisation. The kids would 'go to work'. And they were paid a total of three dollars a day. Back then, this was enough to cover public transport costs and still leave enough money for a pie or sandwich for lunch. 
The boy would be working full-time in the Despatch Department, on the fifth floor of this bookstore in the city, for two weeks.
The girl, who was also fifteen, was already working at this bookstore. On the sales floor at ground level. 
The boy spent his two weeks opening up boxes of books that arrived from the suppliers. 
He and the girl never saw each other. 

Nine years later, the boy got a job at a snazzy restaurant in the city. He was told by the owner that it was a daytime bartending gig, but the current bartender made sure that all the boy ever did was prepare salads and desserts for the lunchtime customers. 
The girl, meanwhile, was working for a cleaning company. One of her allocated premises was this same snazzy restaurant in the city. She would get there between five-thirty and six am to clean the place. She would work solidly and would usually be finished by seven-thirty or eight am. Then she would leave and go on to her next allocated premises. The boy would arrive at the restaurant at eleven-thirty to prepare for the lunchtime rush. 
Once again, he and the girl never saw each other. 

Two years passed and the boy was now working at a cafe, making coffees before the term barista was invented. Before the 'latte art' phenomenon took hold. He worked at this cafe five nights a week. One night, the girl from the bookstore came into this cafe with her boyfriend. She ordered two caffe latte. The boy made the two coffees and placed them down on the counter in front of her and her boyfriend.
'She's pretty',  the boy thought to himself. 

Another two years went by and the boy was now working at a small bistro around the corner from the cafe. One busy Saturday night, two girls walked in and sat down at Table No. 3. The boy didn't see them come in because, well, it was a busy Saturday night. The girls were served by one of the other waiters on duty who brought them a bottle of water and two glasses before taking their order for two caffe latte. 
The waiter went to the machine and made the two coffees. When he was done, he called over to the boy and said; "These are for table three."
"Done", said the boy as he scooped up the coffees. 
The boy approached Table No. 3 and put the coffees down before glancing at the two girls. One of them had the day's newspaper spread across the table and a pair of glasses perched on her nose. 
The boy recognised her from the time she came into the cafe with her boyfriend.
"Hey, did you come into Giorgietto's* about a year ago?", he asked her.
The girl removed the glasses and handed them to her friend, who put them on her own face. They were her glasses, after all.
"Yes. Didn't you work there?", the girl replied, tilting her head slightly to the side the way some girls do when they ask a question. The girl had a low voice. Like Bacall, thought the boy.
"Yeah", he replied and, feeling bold, he decided to ask a strategic question, designed to find out her current status. This is way before Facebook, you understand. If you wanted to know somebody's relationship status, you had to ask them, or somebody who knew them. A web site was where spiders spun their silken homes.
"Yeah, you came in and ordered two lah-teys for you and your boyfriend", he said.
"Oh, I left him, he was crazy", she responded. 
They made some more brief chit-chat, but it was a busy Saturday night, remember? There were other tables to be served. Besides, the girl and her friend had a movie to catch. 
So that was that. 

About a week or so later, the girl came back to the bistro one afternoon to have a coffee. She sat up at the bar. The boy was working and he said 'hi' to her. She said 'hello' and ordered a caffe latte. The boy was standing next to the machine, so he made it for her. 
A couple of the regular customers soon arrived and took up their usual seats at the bar. It wasn't long before these regulars began hitting on the girl. She made polite conversation with them. It was then that the boy learned that she worked in one of the libraries at the nearby university.

A few days later, the girl came back again to the bistro and ordered a coffee. The boy saw her and said 'hello'. She said 'hello' back. She had her coffee and left.

This went on for another week or so. The girl would come in, have a coffee, make small-talk with the boy, and then leave. By now, the boy was thinking that he should ask her out the next time she came in. She was a very interesting girl.
A week went by and she didn't show. The boy was beginning to think that perhaps he'd blown it. One of his workmates gave him the 'you-gotta-strike-while-the-iron-is-hot' speech, which did nothing to lift his spirits. 

The boy later found out that one of the regular customers had managed to get the girl's phone number and had asked her out, but had no luck. The boy decided to ask him for the number. The regular customer handed him the number and said; "I don't fancy your chances, she's crazy."

(The boy found out later on that the regular customer had asked the girl out for a coffee. She said yes. When he called her back to tee it up, he said she could maybe come to his place and he'd cook her dinner and maybe they could watch a video or something. She told him she had no intention of going to his place on a first date and that maybe he was expecting more than she was willing to give. She told him she wasn't that kind of girl.)

The boy tried calling her the next day. The girl picked up on the third ring.
The boy's heart was pounding as he heard her say 'hello'.
"Hey, I haven't seen you in a while and was wondering when you were going to pop in next", he said.
"Actually, I was thinking of coming by tomorrow", she replied.

The next day, she came into the bistro and took her seat up at the bar and ordered a coffee. The boy arrived twenty minutes later to start his shift.
They chatted intermittently between the boy doing his job of clearing tables, taking orders, washing cups, etc.
And then she paid for her coffee, got off her stool at the bar and headed for the door. 
The boy stood behind the counter and said; "See you soon" as his heart raced. That the best he could come up with?
The girl replied over her shoulder; "No, you won't" as she pulled the door open, but the boy didn't hear this because the sound of outside traffic drowned out her words.
His workmates stood there watching him watching her leave. A million different thoughts flitted through his head, but the main one was this strong sense that she was walking out for good.
The bistro was getting busy. If he was going to do anything, he'd have to do it now.
He raced for the door and stepped out into the street to see the girl already about fifteen metres away. The boy broke into a quick trot to catch up with her.
She turned at the sound of his approaching steps.
"Hey, would you like to maybe go out and get a coffee or a drink sometime?", he asked her.
"You know, you come across as cool, with your Zippo lighter and your floppy hair, and you come across as though you're interested, but then you get all coy and you back off", replied the girl.
The boy was taken aback somewhat. He didn't think that that was how he was projecting himself. And he made a mental note to look up the word 'coy' in the dictionary when he got home. He thought he knew its meaning, but he wanted to make sure.
The girl continued; "I wasn't going to come back after my last visit because you came off as if you didn't give a damn, but then I thought I'd give you one last chance."
"I didn't mean to give you the impression that I wasn't interested. But I had everyone in the restaurant watching my every move and I felt like I was under a microscope. I hate that", said the boy.
"So, you didn't realise that I was coming in all these times to see you?", the girl asked, raising a perfect eyebrow, her emerald green eyes boring into his.
"I thought you were coming in for the coffee. Seriously, you'd be surprised how many people walk into this place for the first time, have a coffee, and then come back virtually every day as if they're hooked on our blend or something", the boy replied as he raked his fingers through his floppy hair while his heart pounded and his mouth ran dry. Man, he could use a Marlboro Light right now!
He'd been out of the dating game for quite some time.

The boy and the girl arranged to go out for a coffee the next day. This was back in August 1994.
They got married a couple of years later.

The boy was me. The girl was my wife.


I learned long ago that everybody's life is like a wheel. Some wheels are bigger than others and some wheels turn faster or slower than others and these wheels sometimes intersect in the strangest ways. I've always found it odd, and even incredible, that she and I moved in the same peripheries at times without having met. I suppose sooner or later, our two wheels were bound to overlap. 
And eventually, they did.

Thanks for reading!

*Name changed.


  1. Great story, beautifully written!

  2. Perfection! :D
    Good thing you struck while the iron was hot!

  3. That's been an enjoyable read Mr T. Congratulations on 20 years!

  4. Thanks all! There have been ups, there have been downs, but that's why they call it 'living'. To paraphrase Prince, I wouldn't have changed a stroke.