I don’t know why I was thinking about this one today, but here it is.
Geography Primer—At the university where I work, my cow-orkers and I often sit on an indoor bench on a fairly well-used pathway during our coffee breaks. This allows us to all sit together—there are about eight or ten of us on the bench at a given time, usually—and it also affords the people-watchers among us a rich tapestry of students to observe. Okay.
The Set-up—The university has a program called EAP, or English for Academic Purposes—essentially English as a Second Language. We have a significant population of foreign students attending our fair school, from places like Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Mexico, and so forth, and sometimes they need help with their English. All right.
The Story—I’d noticed in particular that one girl, from Mexico (at least I assumed she was from Mexico; I’d heard her talking with friends on several occasions, in what sure sounded like Spanish) seemed to be giving me the eye on occasion. I admit, I was flattered, but I’m also married.
So one day, for whatever reason, I was alone on the bench for my coffee break. I can’t remember exactly why, but most likely I was early or my cow-orkers were late. Anyway, a fellow University employee—let’s call her Kate—swoops in, sits down next to me, and says, “We have to talk.”
Alarm bells go off in my head. I’m friends with Kate, but she’s got two jobs at the U: Administrative Secretary to the President, and Sexual Harassment Officer. So when she says, in a serious voice, “We have to talk,” my insides get a little crawly.
“O‑o-o-kay,” says I, the paragon of eloquence.
“I need to know your age and marital status,” says Kate.
This conversation has taken a left turn, I think. “Uh, twenty-seven and married,” says I.
“Yeah,” she says, “thought so.” She gets up.
“Wait on a second,” says I. “What’s this all about, anyways?”
She says, “Well, there’s a couple of girls from Mexico.” (Did I mention that Kate also helped out with EAP? Well, she did.) “They were asking about the guy that sits on the bench with the devil beard.” (I had a goatee at the time…) “And I tried to think, ‘devil beard’? Who would that be? And then I saw you here today, and…”
“Okay,” I say. “And?”
“Oh.” She smiles. “And they have wicked crushes on you.” She sighs. “Well, gotta go break some señoritas’ hearts.”
And she walked away.