That’s what I planned to say.
I had an entire speech planned. An apology, first. Then a bit of groveling for forgiveness. You know, the sort of stuff the ladies like to hear, especially when you’ve royally screwed up. And then, the peace offering — the cup of coffee.
You have no idea what I had to go through to get that cup of coffee.
After that, who knows. We could talk, maybe even get lunch. Maybe nothing. Maybe she would stop glaring at me every time we passed in the street. Who knows? But it all would have started with the simple phrase, “Coffee, madam?”
Why didn’t I say that?
I was going to be polite. I was going to be charming. Dammit, I was going to be eloquent. But instead, what was I? Nervous.
Jack Cahill does not get nervous. Why should I get nervous? I had nothing to be nervous about. It wasn’t like anything was wrong. The timing was right. I was looking good — suave, debonair, the usual. Coffee was hot, but not too hot. A bit tepid for me, but it was perfect Goldilocks temperature for the majority of the population, according to my inside source.
As for me myself, I was fine. No internal strife present in my life. Work was as normal as it always was. Executive first assistant isn’t too bad. Not easy, but not bad, for me. Play was exceptional – top of my game, even. If you know what I mean. Friends were good. Well, most friends were good. The other ones were having fun taking the mickey out of me for that darn cup of coffee.
You have no idea what I went through to get that cup of coffee.
So why did I get nervous?
There’s this girl, see. I keep seeing her on my way back from Starbucks. Only, first time we ran into each other, we may have collided. Just a little bit.
Or a lot.
Hey, it wasn’t my fault. I am a determined walker. It’s not that I walk quickly; I walk with purpose. Unless I’m texting. Then I walk with a distracted purpose. Which leads me into glass doors. And poles.
And people. Occasionally.
People like her.
So it may have been my fault. Possibly.
She should have moved. I’m sure she saw me coming. She was walking just as quickly as I was. How else do you explain the excellent arc and trajectory my coffee took between its rightful place in my cup and its final destination on her shirt?
That’s my story. I’m sticking to it.
My boss didn’t think it was such a good one.
“Son,” he said when he discovered the true reason why I wasn’t caffeinated properly. That was it. Just “Son.” He shook his head. “Son,” he started again, “you are in trouble.”
I looked at the wilted plant he thought was plastic on his desk for a moment, waiting. My boss is quirky. If he wants to explain an idea of his fully, he won’t say anything. He’ll wait for you to ask him about it. He takes those questions as an invitation to bore you with all the nit-picky details pertaining to his next scheme.
Did I say scheme? I meant billion-dollar venture and/or investing opportunity.
If he doesn’t want to continue a train of thought, he will change the subject. No matter how awkwardly or smoothly or abruptly or terribly he does it, he will change the subject. His mother-in-law particularly enjoys it, seeing as he cuts her off mid-sentence. Every sentence.
My dad is a fun man to work with.
So when his silence saturated the air for three continuous minutes, I knew he had more to say.
“What do you mean, Mr. Cahill?” I asked wearily. This will be good, I thought. My dad was always full of opinions about me and the ladies. Most of them were about what I was doing wrong.
He shook his head solemnly back and forth before bending over his paperwork.
The only thing worse than when my dad expounds on his so-called brilliant theory is when he refuses to explain it because he thinks the truth is self-evident.
This time, he was right. I was in trouble. I just didn’t know it yet.
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