For the man who is as vital as coffee to me… the best part of waking up is YOU…
She blushes deeply, not at all accustomed to such flattery. “Why don’t we start with Sherry, and keep the option open for others, fair deal?” she counters, offering her hand to shake. She watches Ben offer his and sees a flicker of something like hesitation cross his face. She slides her hand into his and grips to shake. She notices that he doesn’t seem to grip back really, but the leather of his gloves is soft and worn. She releases his hand.
“I’d love to get coffee, Ben. There’s no need to ask me twice if it’s about coffee. There’s a great place right around the corner too.” She stands up, straightens her skirt and tosses her hair.
Ben rolls his eyes in agreement. “Who doesn’t need a moment with their coffee each day…. “
This is surreal, completely surreal… Sherry thinks to herself. I have never in my LIFE met a man like this. A man who spontaneously, out of the blue starts flirting with me, and asks me out? He’s not even a troll or 80. He’s really handsome, and funny. Ugh, I don’t want to unpack my ugly duckling baggage now, but WOW!
Should I be worried about the wheelchair? she wonders. I’m better than that, that would be shallow and I did just meet him. Your job is about adapting Sherry, meeting people where they are and working to solve any problem that comes up. You can learn and adapt to anything a relationship with this man may involve. Besides, you’re getting ahead of yourself. You’re having coffee, not kids. She finishes her pep talk and falls into step beside Ben, heading for the coffee shop.
He knows the exact place she’s talking about. He also notices how easily she keeps pace with him. It’s hard for him not to be just a little excited about what this could mean. He’s never been a stranger to dating, or charming women… but there hasn’t been as many fish in the sea the last few years… The last two at least…
“Oh Ben, I’m sorry, I see something I just have to stop for,” Sherry says, resting her hand easily on his shoulder to get his attention. “Will you forgive me a small detour? I see fresh herbs!” she asks tentatively, before darting past him to a table covered in vases full of bright green bundles.
As they move closer, Ben notices the air is thick with the smell of thyme, basil, rosemary, and the crisp green scent of cilantro. It reminds him he needs to water his own when he gets home. He watches her excitement, the way she picks up each vase to smell. She chats with the farmer, smiling and enthusiastic. How can anyone not be enchanted by this woman… She’s soon tucking fragrant bunches of mint, basil and rosemary into her bag.
“Thank you, I know what to do with my peas now!” Sherry says, smiling when she returns to his side.
“I can’t wait to hear over coffee,” Ben says. “I have a thing for fresh herbs too. I have a planter box in my back yard full of basil.”
“Nice, do you garden?” Sherry asks as she falls into step with him again, heading for the coffee shop.
“I do. It’s my little happy place. My favorite things to grow are basil, peppers and tomatoes,” Ben responds.
“Ohh man, there is nothing better than a REAL sun ripened tomato, the way they smell, the way they taste! I live in an apartment for now and can’t really grow much of anything. I killed a house plant last week,” Sherry says, with a frown. “I hope someday I’ll have a backyard full of food every summer,” Sherry explains with excitement.
As they come up on the coffee shop, Ben is relieved to see the doors thrown open for the crowds. At least I won’t have to wrestle with a door to prove I’m a gentleman today. She slips in the door ahead of him. He takes a minute to appreciate the way her dress hugs her hips and flirts with her ankles.
“Sherry, why don’t you find us a table and I’ll get coffee,” he suggests.
“Are you sure, Ben? I can buy my own coffee,” Sherry protests, clutching her purse.
“Of course I’m sure, besides you did me a favor and helped me find peaches,” he insists with a wink.
“Yes, but you helped me find strawberries, so we’re even,” Sherry counters. She’s obviously being playful and flirting.
“Ahh yes, but you’re going to find us a table in this madhouse… Really, it’s my pleasure, what do you want?” Ben says, hopeful she won’t continue to protest. He flashes a smile, just to be safe. Come on smile, don’t fail me now.
“Ok, if you insist… A large iced almond latte please,” she says, her eyes sparkling with acceptance.
I still have a little game, he thinks to himself, taking his place in line. He watches her saunter off through the tables. Watching her move is fascinating. She’s so confident, self assured and those sandals… MAN! His brain registers a tingle of sexual attraction, he struggles to put out of his head. Don’t count your chickens Ben, that’s a whole new ball of wax to deal with. It’s probably best to wait until you know it’s going to happen before you get ahead of yourself. He braces his hands on the rims of his chair trying to shift his position a little, while he waits to place their order.
Sherry weaves through tables looking for somewhere to sit, but the place is packed. There are people, chairs, and tables everywhere. Even if she can find a table it would probably be like tackling an obstacle course for Ben. The shop does have some nice outdoor seating. It’s a beautiful night, why don’t we sit outside and watch people, Sherry decides, and hopes Ben can find her. She moves a chair away from the table so he has a place to park his and hauls her purse off her shoulder, draping it on the back of her chair. She feels a little sad she’s on call tonight. It’d be a shame if she had to leave but, work is work. She dutifully takes her phone out and rests it on the table.
She looks up and sees Ben scanning the crowd for her. She waves at him through the window, and watches as he makes his way outside to join her. Their coffee is wedged between his legs. He pulls up to the table and uses both hands to place the coffee in front of her. Then he offers a straw wedged between his knuckles. She eagerly opens it and pops it in her coffee, watching as Ben uses both his hands to get a grasp on his own.
She takes a deep sip and enjoys the whole experience of it, rich dark coffee and sweet creamy milk wash over her palate. She moans softly and says out loud, almost to herself, “Coffee is always a deeply satisfying, guilty pleasure.”
“Do you need a minute with your latte?” Ben teases.
“No, sorry,“ Sherry says, blushing. “Coffee and I have a very special relationship.” she grips her cup possessively and puts on her sweetest face. “We go way back, coffee and I. Nothing will ever come between us. Coffee has always been true and devoted to me.”
“Note taken, the girl likes coffee…” Ben nods his head dramatically, raising his hands in surrender to prove he understands.
“Don’t you forget it, Buster…” Sherry makes her point, sternly. He has this easy way of poking fun at me and, he’s fun to poke fun at too.
She looks like a little girl defending a puppy, holding her coffee like that…. Ben can’t help but burst out laughing. She is silly. He loves that she’s silly! And when she moaned… try to put it out of your mind for now… Ben takes a deep breath, seeking a distraction.
“Hey, your necklace is really pretty!” he says, looking carefully at the pattern of silver resting just a whisper above her breasts. “It almost looks like a molecule?” he finishes the thought, taking a sip of his own coffee.
“Very astute, Ben!” Sherry observes. “It is the molecular structure of the hormone oxytocin. It’s the hormone responsible for feelings of love, bonding and is released during orgasm and childbirth,” Sherry explains.
Did she just say orgasm? Ugh… pull those horses back Ben… CHANGE THE SUBJECT!!! “I knew it looked familiar. Science is kind of my business,” he explains. “I’m a Biology and Chemistry teacher at a local high school.”
“Oh, that sounds fun! I’ve always thought being a teacher would be an awesome job,” Sherry responds with interest, taking another sip of her coffee.
She didn’t sense my panic at all… close call…. “Do you have any plans for tonight, Sherry? Want to go get that tattoo, maybe?” Ben asks, raising his eyebrow in challenge. I wonder if she’s the spontaneous type?
“Wow, that’s a big question… Doesn’t that take time? Don’t you have to talk to an artist, choose a design, and argue the finer details for weeks until it is perfect,” Sherry asks. “I mean it is a permanent, etched in my body forever, kind of thing.”
I can relate…. He thinks to himself. “I don’t have a tattoo to know. Well, not yet. I’ve kind of thought of getting one. We could go look?” Let her say yes, let her say yes… Ben pleads with the universe.
“It could be fun to look around and get the lay of the land. Is there a shop nearby?” Sherry asks.
Ben picks up his phone, dragging the knuckle of his pinky finger around on the screen. He asks Siri to find the nearest tattoo shop. Sherry leans into him, with interest. He can sense her excitement and nervous energy. He likes that. She seems willing to be spontaneous but also intelligently cautious. It’s a good balance in a person. Come on Siri, don’t fail me now… I need something to keep this woman talking to me so I can maybe get a 2nd date. Even a phone number, man, a phone numb…..
As if on cue, Sherry’s phone suddenly came to life ringing on the table. Was that Salt-n-Pepa singing Push it? This woman has unique taste in music too, he thought raising his eyebrow but trying to keep an open mind. I can always educate her on the finer points of good music if need be, like The Beatles or Dave Matthews.
“Oh Ben, sorry I have to take this,” Sherry explains, excusing herself and turning away from him for a moment. He tries to look interested in Siri’s search results, but he can’t help being curious what Sherry is saying.
“Uh huh, for two hours ok… Well, I’m at the farmer’s market now but I’m done shopping. Why don’t you go ahead and fill the tub, light the candles and put the music on. Try a glass of wine before I get there, it might calm your nerves and relax you. I’ll get my bags and join you as soon as I can…. It will be a great night Brad, It will be perfect, no reason to believe it will be anything less than one of the most memorable nights of your life!… Ok, see you soon! I’m excited too!” Sherry continues on a few moments more.
WHAT THE HECK! Ben thinks to himself… Did she just make a date with another man while having coffee with me? Ugh, I totally misread her. She’s just being nice…. Ugh, I’m so stupid… This is a pity date she just wanted strawberries. Ben continues mentally berating himself, until Sherry hangs up the phone.
“Oh Ben, I’m so sorry, I’ve had such fun talking to you tonight. I’m on call though and I have to get going to work…” Sherry explains, without explaining. WORK? What is she, like a call girl or female escort? Well, Tom had suggested that was an opti… What are you thinking Ben, you’re not that desperate yet.
Ben stammers, completely confused and not sure what to make of what he’d just overheard. Be a nice guy Ben, don’t judge if you don’t know… Putting his charming smile back in place, he says, “Oh, I understand Sherry. Of course, it’s no problem… It’s been fun. It was nice to meet you. Really, I had a great time!” How many silly platitudes can you spit out, dummy. Just get it over with, rip off the band aid and let her go.
“Thank you so very much Ben, for the coffee, for the company. Thanks for leading me to strawberries,” she says, motioning to her purse. “Umm, is there any chance you might like my phone number?” Sherry asks. The shy blushing girl is back suddenly…
Is she trying to drum up business? he wonders. Handsome, sexy guy in a wheelchair must be hard up for a good lay…. Ouch, the truth hurts. She’s so sweet though and suddenly shy and blushing again. She’s either genuine or REALLY good at sealing the deal with prospective clients. Take a chance, Ben, take a chance! His inner frat boy is cheering him on. Ben takes a deep breath, trying to shake off his wild imagination and speculation.
“I’d love your phone number, Sherry,” Ben counters, with a nervous smile.
She plucks his phone up off the table and plugs her phone number into it. She leans in close to give him a quick peck of a kiss on the cheek. She whispers, “Good Night Ben” in his ear, before she darts off, in a swirl of flowing skirts and fresh flowers.
Well at least the kiss was free, he thinks, shifting his weight and changing position. Maybe she felt like I paid her in coffee. He glances down at his phone to read the screen…. Sherry the Strawberry Tart Goddess…. 855 772-7107. He couldn’t help but grin until his face hurt. I wonder how long I have to wait for it to be socially acceptable to text her?