I Got As Far As Hello

by Amanda Shaw

So there I was, on the 6, just like Jennifer Lopez, headed towards Union Square. I was meeting Carol, Nadine and Alicia for Friday Happy Hour and dinner at Luna Park. Alicia had seen the place highlighted on Sex and the City, so naturally we had to check it out. Now that we were college graduates and scattered around New York City, our lives were supposed to be like the show. My friends were always so dramatic. The last time we met, we debated who we were on the show.

"Amanda, who do you think is Samantha? Me or Alicia?"

"I donít know," I said unresponsively.

"Come on, who? See, I think Iím more like Samantha. I mean, I work in a PR firm. Iím loud and crazy."

"Yeah, but you hardly have any sex."

"I know," Carol said regretfully. "But I want to have more."

So I made Carol happy and told her she was best suited for Samantha. Alicia was Charlotte. Nadine was given Miranda. And me, of course, because I write and have the same hair as Sarah Jessica, was Carrie.

"Why do I have to be Miranda?" Nadine angrily questioned. Oh no, here we go again. Nadine had that annoyed look on her face, like she had just received the biggest insult of her life.

"Because, you are the most cynical and you never think any guy is for real. Face it Nat, you are a pessimist." I cringed with each word that flowed so easily out of Carolís lips. Sometimes I wonder if Carol lacks that part of the brain that censors her thoughts before they come screaming "HEAR ME!" out of her mouth. We all know there are certain things you just donít say to Nadine. Donít call her hair frizzy. Donít ask her why she looks so upset all the time and certainly never tell her that she has a pessimistic attitude. These were precisely the three things Carol was always tormenting Nadine about. That is why my two dear friends have butted heads since day one.

"Whatever! Iíll be Miranda." Nadine said half-heartedly.

I laughed quietly to myself because in all honesty this was a ridiculous conversation, and I was not quite sure it was healthy for a group of 20-something college graduates to be having.

So now I am riding the subway on my way to meet my college friends. I am standing, holding on to the metal pole by the door because I refuse to have any fraction of skin on my leg touch any part of the dirty subway seat. Besides I feel more ready to defend myself should anything happen, standing up. Yes, I am one of those paranoid persons who thinks that a crime could happen at any given second. Most of the time on the subway I stare down at the floor, or up at the ads on the inside of the car. "Times change. Great TV doesnít."

I can feel someoneís eyes upon me. I hate it when some greasy crack-head construction-working man is staring at you, trying to get your attention, so he can lick his lips and wink at you and you give him that totally disgusted look that says, "Why the hell would you think I would even want anything to do with a slime ball like you," while he lives in a fantasy world thinking you might, for a second, wink back.

This is different. I want to look this time. I want to see who is behind the eyes burning up my face, scanning my body. I hear the voice of my father running through my head. "Be careful on the subway," he says. "When waiting for the train, donít stand too close to the platform, and make sure NOT TO MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH ANYONE. New York City is filled with the three Ps: pimps, perverts, and prostitutes."

I want to listen to those words, but curiosity is getting the best of me. I swing my eyes down from TV Land to the man standing directly across from me. He is tall, black, excellent posture, beautiful lips, and so sure of himself that when I let him know I see him staring at me, he doesnít blink at all. My heart begins to pound like it does when you kiss somebody for the first time. I quickly turn away, and still this guy does not take his eyes off of me. And while it makes me extremely uncomfortable, I am also enjoying it.

We only ride together for a minute, and then the train stops. The doors behind me open and the tall, dark, mysterious man brushes by me. We were only on 33rd Street, not my stop, but some force is pulling me off the train, telling me to follow him.

I donít consider myself a stalker or anything. I am sure everyone has done something like this before, at least thatís what I tell myself as I follow him up the stairs and out onto the street. Heís walking fast, like he has a destination. I start to wonder if I should just turn around, but there is something compelling me to follow him. What if this guy is Mr. Right? What if fate put us on that train together? I canít mess with fate. I must find out where he is going. What will I say when he stops? Should I just walk by him and use the cheesy line that has been used on me so often, "Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?"

Oh God, what am I thinking? That is the worst ever. He would run away from me so fast if I said that. Maybe just, "Hi, I noticed you checking me out on the subway andó" Itís official, my reasoning has turned to mush. I should just forget it and go back to meet my friends. I have nothing witty to say to this awesomely gorgeous man. I have never even come into contact with someone this beautiful, ever.

I convince myself to give up on Mystery Man when all of a sudden he stops and heads into a Starbucks on the corner. There we go. Easy enough. I walk into Starbucks too, figuring Iíll order an iced coffee or something like that. It really doesnít matter because I donít drink coffee. But he doesnít know that. I get in line directly behind him. Close enough to smell him. He can probably feel me breathing on him because he turns around and smiles at me.

"Hi."

OK, heís speaking to me. Deep breath.

"Hello," I say with all my energy, waiting for him to continue the brief yet fulfilling conversation. I imagine he is a lawyer or a banker, something important. He stands self assuredly. He is everything I have ever wanted, the full package. I have come this far. I better not screw it up now by saying something stupid. I must think. I am not Carol. I have a thought process. This is the time to utilize it. This beautiful successful lawyer/banker is about to engage me in conversation.

Suddenly a breeze rushes into the coffee shop. My hair is brushed in front of my face. Tyra Banks walks in. No wait, itís not Tyra, just some ordinary perfect-looking, everyday-model type that makes you feel completely insecure about your small breasts and size 8 waist. Mystery Manís eyes focus in on the beauty who is now walking straight towards him. The wannabe Tyra throws her arms around my new husband and gives him a kiss.

"I hope youíre going to get me what I like," she says to him.

"Coffee. Black. Ainít that what you like?" Then he kisses her. The couple laugh, and engage in close talking and hand holding.

So whoís the asshole in the place? Me. Me. Me. I twist my body around and walk out the door with my head hanging low. I feel like a Big L for being the last single person on the planet. But at least I didnít waste $3.00 on an iced coffee that I wasnít going to drink.

"Itís about time you got here," Carol shouts to me as I walk to my table of friends.

I really am not that late, but Carol has to give me a hard time.

"So where have you been," she questions, probing me for an exciting story.

"Nowhere. I just got off to a late start."

"Oh," she says, disappointed.

For a moment I ponder telling them about Mystery Man, but this is one Sex and the City episode that I decide not to give any airtime.


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