I thought the date was going poorly when I confessed to her, nearly in tears, that I’ll never get over the time my younger brother flushed my Millennium Falcon Lego set down the toilet – the birthday present I wanted the most but never got to build – and she responded in a Gothy voice that all she ever wanted was slow delicious Death and she hates prime numbers and the way the little flowery bits of broccoli stick in her teeth and then emerge later and float around when she sips her daily dose of diet poison. I sat in silence for a moment, not sure where to go with that, and a tiny bit disturbed at how profoundly her Gothy voice turned me on, and I stayed quiet as she took mascara from her purse and drew circles around her eyes and then sharpened the circles near the outside of her eyebrows so that she resembled a Gothic raccoon, more or less. I sought for a polite way to tell her that she was disturbing the other Starbucks patrons and maybe possibly freaking me out a little, though pleasurably so, but she interrupted my thoughts and told me by way of conversation that the smell of Scotch tape as she wrapped presents last Arbor Day made her get a whale tattoo across the small of her back and that the greatest political travesty of the age was that giraffes are systematically precluded from being traffic cops even though, duh, they can see so far and that her goal for the future is to dye her eyelashes purple so that everything in the world would look like grapes. “Organic,” she added, “and seedless. Cause that’s a thing!” And with her last word she pulverized her pumpkin scone into dust and then snorted it through my rolled up credit card receipt and stormed out the door, her mascara leaving a black smudge on the glass because she chose to walk out the door first and open it later, somehow.
Outside, she stalked to the convertible in the handicapped spot and grabbed the handicapped sign posted on the dash and then lay down on her back in the adjacent empty handicapped spot with the sign on her heart and wept until the mascara streamed into her ears and filled them with black. I opened the Starbucks door and stood on the sidewalk above her and decided I should drop to my knees and propose right there in front of God and our barista and the old woman with the walker and everyone. A mutual friend had told me that sometimes when this girl feels nervous she gets a little awkward, and I had to conclude as I watched black rivulets of mascara trickle through her blonde hair and followed the rise and fall of the handicapped sign between her breasts and listened to her demonic throaty sobs that only slow delicious love could make her so profoundly nervous. I knelt beside her, weeping, unable to ask the question, but so sure in our mutual understanding that I removed the handicapped sign and snapped it into pieces and ate one of the smaller shards because, really, hey, we’re all a little awkward now and then, and who am I to walk away from a love so delicate?