Smile (off-beat G-rated romance)  

rm_Luv_PPPL 58M
58 posts
7/17/2006 11:36 pm

Last Read:
7/17/2006 11:38 pm

Smile (off-beat G-rated romance)

Mood: Spiritual (currently unsupported by this site.)

(My original work.)

"Would you like the jewelry gift-wrapped, Sir?"

"No thanks, I'll put it in that box."

I'd spent half the morning going around to various shops, trying to locate my objective. The specifications were precise: we engineers don't like to mess around with the parameters of female earlobes.

Turquoise it had to be. Posts weren't allowed, because she was on the phone for half the day and they'd become painful.

I'd chosen one of the intricately carved sandalwood receptacles on the shelf. Her girlfriends were always giving her small items, yet she never seemed to have enough space for them. Especially for earrings: the quintessential physical unit of emotional currency between women. Now it was my turn to trade denominations in the market of affections.

The woman smiled at me.

No: it wasn't the clerk who grinned. She clearly disapproved of my desire to combine Mexican jewelry and Indian carving. It was the woman next to me at the counter who'd offered an opposing opinion.

I ignored the snub of the seller with a stony stare, while begrudging my supporter with an equally wooden acknowledgment. Surely if I was doomed to mix cultures, materials, or even metaphors, it was no one's business.

I knew my Valentine's Day offerings wouldn't be relished. Just as I couldn't accept the smile, being too enmeshed in the quest for another.

So the favors would be unreturned.

One grin plus two gifts. Equals zero.

I trudged out of the store into the shadowy winter haze, wondering how I would get the subject of my affections to meet me--so I could yet again proffer my futile proof.

Seven years of marriage hadn't produced a meeting of the hearts. Nor a captive audience for the theater of togetherness. Obviously the blandishments were unlikely to have much effect.

So why was I doing it? We argued constantly, we fought endlessly. Over the slightest little thing. Making love didn't cure it, moving away didn't stop it, and yet even today we were oddly inseparable--like opponents in an ceaseless battle who couldn't end the conflict for fear of facing themselves, or anyone else. Cold war.

"Spare quarter for a vet. . . . SIR?"

I'll spare you the description of his appearance.

But I gave him the quarter anyway. Serving my country by murdering innocent people would've driven me crazy, too. There but for the grace of Providence went I.

I looked over at the Chicago Art Institute. So many hours of debating Wittgenstein with my friends from school--under the influence of Lake Shore Drive's crosstown traffic noise. Were we any wiser for our efforts?

Michigan avenue beckoned. It seemed feminine at that moment, with the optical illusion of distance forming the curve of the city as the endless blocks stretched before me.

The smiler seemed curved too. At least her face must have been round. It certainly was pleasant, sweet, and comforting. She didn't know why I'd bought the blandishments. She hadn't heard all the words that had been exchanged. Nor did she look like the sort of person who'd spent many of her college years dropping acid and going to museums.

Somehow she knew. She must have understood. She seemed to accept the taste I'd shown in selecting the items. And yet I'd been so cruel to ignore her. This juxtaposition bothered me immensely.

Why had she smiled at me--so freely, so easily, so unthinkingly? Could she have possibly expected anything in return? What on earth had motivated her? Was it my banal choice of gifts, or my unimaginative appearance, or perhaps my dreadfully commonplace mannerisms?

No, it couldn't be. No woman so attractive would be moved by anything or anyone so ordinary.

Hmm . . . well, to be honest, I don't know whether she was beautiful or not. I really can't remember exactly what she looked like.

And yet I couldn't forget her smile.

"Excuse me . . . SIR!"

I'll spare you the description.

I gave him the bag, pointed him to the shop, and waved the receipt in his face. He appeared as if he was more than capable of getting the money back--as well as genuinely in need of it.

The presents would never be presented.

Because I had the smile.

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