I am home for Christmas break. My mind is foggy from lack of sleep, but standing in line with my best girlfriend, waiting for the bliss that is espresso and chocolate, my last final seems eons ago. We giggle as we catch up on our latest dating disasters. Yes, the same ones that didn’t seem so funny during our midnight phone calls as the sound of hearts breaking traveled thru the wires.
Speaking of guys, we scan Starbucks. The dark-haired hottie at the corner table reading the Wall Street Journal is more her type. She’s the money girl. And never mind, because there’s his wife, with their drinks. Now, the guy in line ahead of us looks like my type. Torn jeans. Long hair. Artsy. Probably has a record. Yep, just my kinda guy. I sigh and survey the dessert case. I love my friend, but she always wants to share dessert. Me? I want my own piece of everything. Sharing is for siblings and I’m finally on my own. Though, I still bite my straw out of habit from the years of having to share a soda with my brother. One can, two straws.
My eyes land on the sugar cookies. I decide on the frosted angel cookie just as I notice chubby fingers sliding open the glass door and taking the last one. I follow the green apron to the Starbuck girl’s face and notice her for the first time. As the espresso machine sizzles and sputters, time stops. We exchange that look. You know, the one that says “forgive me for staring, but don’t I know you?”
“Can I get a drink started for you?” she asks as I watch her rack her mind for a reason to recognize me.
“Yeah, soy, sugar free mocha please. Sixteen ounce.”
“Sure.” She punches my order into the register. “Did you go to Curtis Junior High?”
“Yeah. I was thinking you looked familiar.”
“Didn’t you ride my bus?” A slow smile forms on her lips.
“Yeah, the same stop I think, 40th and Alameda?”
“Oh my God! Remember Butch?” She’s laughing now. “What a tool!”
“How could I forget Butch?” And really, how could I? With her purple highwaters, short dykey hair and ridiculous, red Michael Jackson for Prez sweatshirt.
“I haven’t thought about Butch in years!” Is what I say out loud.
“I remember you now, but, sorry, I can’t think of your name,” she says handing back my change.
“Oh, it’s Nathalie.” Her face remains blank. “But you used to call me Butch.”
Watching the color drain from her face was sweeter than anything she could’ve served on a dessert plate.
© 2006 Nathalie Hardy