He was already there. When I walked in, he was checking his email. At least that’s what I presumed he was doing. He had his Blackberry in his hand. At least it looked like a Blackberry. He was scrolling. And staring at it. Engrossed, actually.
Hardly unusual these days. Do you ever see anyone without a device of some kind, in their hands? I don’t. We text in meetings. We check emails in restaurants. We walk down the street talking on the phone. God help us, we even do it while we’re driving.
So I wasn’t the least bit surprised when he never looked up. Not even for a minute. Frankly, I’m not sure he was even aware I was there.
I checked him out, though. I can’t help myself. I’ve written before about how much of a people-watcher I am. I can do it for hours and hours and hours on end. I’m curious. I love trying to figure out what makes people tick. Who they are. What they do for a living. Whether they’re married or single or divorced or widowed. If they have kids. What kind of houses they live in. Whether they’re happy or not. What makes them laugh. What they like to read and eat and watch on TV. What sports they’re interested in. If they were good in school. What subjects they liked. And didn’t like. Their favourite music.
Are they good friends? Good husbands? Good parents? Good lovers? Good at their jobs? Good cooks? Good dancers? Who’d they vote for? Are they liberals? Or conservatives? Democrats? Republicans? Religious? Up tight? Fun loving? Happy go lucky? Or serious? Noses to the grindstone types?
My curiosity knows no bounds. I can stare and conjecture about people forever.
“But”, you’re probably thinking, “What did you notice about him? The man with the phone? The stranger? Can we get back to him?”
Well, for one thing, he was handsome. Not pretty. Not perfect. Handsome. Good features. Short hair. Thick. A bit wavy. Dark, with some grey mixed in. I’m not as good as I used to be about guessing people’s ages, but I figure he was about 45. Maybe 50, tops. Not because of the hair. His face looked like he’d done some time. You know, done some living.
No, I don’t mean he looked like a boozer. Not hard living. Living. Life. He wasn’t a novice. He’d racked up some experience.
He was very nicely dressed. I noticed that, right off the top. His suit fit him very well. Could have been custom-tailored. Nice, crisp white shirt. Beautiful tie. I like ties. Ties and socks say a lot about a man. At least to me. Ties and socks are a chance for a man to have some fun. Show off a bit of personality. A quirky side. If they have one, of course. My taste runs to men with a quirky side.
Nice hands. Aww … come on, cut me some slack. He was holding his Blackberry. I couldn’t miss his hands. And I like men who take care of their hands. No jagged nails and chewed cuticles for me, thank you very much. This guy’s hands were in very good shape. What can I say? I’m observant.
Honestly, I can’t say how much time I spent looking at him. Don’t worry, it was out of the corner of my eye. I couldn’t just stand in front of him and stare right at him, could I? But I had lost track of where I was and how long I’d been there. So I was a bit surprised when I suddenly realized nothing was happening. No movement. No one else coming or going. It was just the two of us in there.
And then I became aware of time. It seemed like a long time. Just him. And me. And the silence between us now felt awkward. I felt like we should have been talking. Saying something. But we weren’t. He’d stopped looking at his Blackberry, but he wasn’t doing anything. Not looking around. Not saying a word. Just standing there, lounging casually against the wall.
It made me want to laugh. The silence. The awkwardness. It seemed weird, all of a sudden. Does that ever happen to you? I think it’s a kind of nervous, anxious energy. What’s going on isn’t really funny, but your first instinct is to laugh. The giggles start rising in your throat, like the bubbles in a bottle of champagne, spilling over when the cork’s removed.
Tried like hell to fight the urge. I must have made a gurgling sound because he looked over at me. I could feel it. And then I saw the slight movement of his head. As he looked toward me. He gave me a small smile. Not a grin. Just a small, half smile. Which I returned. And then we both looked away again.
The longer we were there, doing nothing, saying nothing, the more I wanted to laugh. It was becoming unbearable. I was afraid I’d explode.
Why I didn’t say something I don’t know. Was I shy? I don’t know. Was I afraid? I don’t think so. He just didn’t seem receptive. You know what I mean? He was relaxed and all. But God knows, if he’d been in the mood for conversation there’d been ample time for it. So I took my cue from him and kept my mouth shut. Even though I was dying to talk to him. If for no other reason, than to hear the sound of his voice. To see if it matched his looks.
After all, I didn’t even know if he spoke English. For all I knew he was a foreigner. Now I was even more curious. Where the hell was this guy from? Was he local? Or not? Did he have a deep, husky voice? Or was it soft and mellow, like the sound warm chocolate syrup might make, if syrup had a sound? Did he have an accent? French? Italian? Swiss? Argentinian?
Closer to home? Like Brooklyn? Or Texas? Or was he just from around the corner from where we were?
Torture. I tell you it was torture saying nothing. Asking no questions.
And that’s when it happened. I couldn’t hold it in, any longer. I started to laugh. At first he looked startled. Then he started to laugh.
And then there was this jerking movement. It was strong enough to throw us both a bit off balance. And then we started to move. The damn elevator finally started to move. We’d been stuck for the better part of 40 minutes.
Before either one of us had a chance to say anything, the doors opened and we were there. On the ground floor. His phone started to ring. My phone started to ring. We looked at each other and shrugged. And then he went off in one direction. And I went off in another. The end.
Did this really happen to me? Nope. It was the WordPress Daily Prompt a couple of weeks ago. “You’re stuck in an elevator with an intriguing stranger. Write this scene.” Funny thing, though. You’d think, since I made the whole thing up, I would have written myself a better ending. One of those Hollywood-type endings. Where we would have looked into each other’s eyes, both tossed our phones into the garbage and walked off into the sunset together. Maybe next time.