A Defining Sense Of Self
The quick, ten-minute stroll through the busy streets of Manhattan had gone by very fast. It was easy to have time pass you by when you were enjoying yourself. The entire way to Starbuck's, all I kept thinking about was, "I wonder if we're going to kiss again! Will he make his feelings for me public? If he does, he's a keeper!" Of course, I said this all inwardly with a grin that nobody would be able to hide from anyone. As I turned the corner to Starbuck's, the line had formed outside the door. This predicament kept me at a standstill on the corner of West 67th Street and Columbus Avenue. I stood there for a minute, waiting to see if the line would die down, but it wasn't. In fact, it seemed to have gotten longer and busier. Suddenly, I heard my text notification from my cellphone in my hand purse.
NY152: Are you just going to stand there? Or will you be coming in? I saved us a seat. You'll be able to spot me. I'm almost certain.
I forgot that I had activated the AOL Instant Messenger application on my phone and that it was set to automatically log in after each time I restarted my phone! I smiled, locked my phone, placed it back into my hand purse and made my way across the crosswalk, approaching the busy coffee bar. "Excuse me," I repeated several times, until I came up to a man that wouldn't budge, "I have someone waiting just inside. Can I please squeeze through?" The gray-haired, balding man who may have had a few too many donuts and New York hot dogs in his time gave me a look of annoyance. I stood up straight and gave him a look of shock because instead of kindly moving so I could get into the coffee bar, he didn't budge! My jaw stood agape while I threw my hands in the air in a quick motion. "There's just no getting through here, is there?" I asked him. He gave me a quick grunt and turned back around as if I didn't exist.
A familiar voice carried from inside. It was Joe Fox. "Excuse me, sir? Would you be so..." The gray-haired, balding man seemed to be put back by Joe Fox's presence, fumbling over himself as he stood in front of me, still blocking my entry into the coffee bar.
"Mr. Fox! Sir! I love your bookstore. It has been a god-send! I just want to thank you personally for opening that place up. Looks like business is booming for you, huh sir?" The man had gone rosy in the cheeks, almost sweating from his encounter with "THE" Joe Fox.
As the man continued, Joe Fox nodded thoughtfully, smiling his charismatic smile, being very modest. "I'm glad you enjoy it! It's always nice to hear the opinions of readers such as yourself." Joe Fox shook the man's hand and held his hand towards me, "I was hoping you could let this lovely lady through. She's not looking to cut in line. I actually have our table right over there. Would you be so kind?" He asked with sincerity in his voice.
"Sure thing, Mr. Fox!" The man who once did not want to move for me suddenly stepped aside as if I was on fire and he had to make lots of room for my escape. I walked passed the man, my jaw still agape, looking at him and then back at Joe Fox.
"How do you always manage to do that?" I asked him with genuine curiosity. Joe Fox always seemed to have a way of sweet-talking anyone to get what he wanted and oftentimes, got it. I recalled the time he sweet-talked the cashier at the grocery store to let me pass through the cash only line when I didn't have any cash. He sweet-talked her into running my credit card without a problem. Of course, after the transaction was made, she still shot me a look of contempt. Maybe because I was leaving with the man of her dreams in tow.
Joe Fox shot me a grin, holding my hand and leading me to the table he reserved for us. "You can call it a natural gift." He replied. On the tabletop was a copy of Pride and Prejudice with a long-stemmed red rose sticking out of it's pages. I was beginning to feel more and more like a fish with the amount of times my jaw was dropping open this morning. "How did you...how do you..." I fumbled over my words.
"I felt bad. I really did. That night I stood you up," he paused for a moment, furrow his brows, "or didn't stand you up, technically." He chuckled nervously. "I really felt terrible that night, even though I did spend time with you. You were looking for your Mr. Darcy all night and I made a game out of it. Take this book and rose as a token of my sincerest apologies, Kathleen." Joe Fox handed me the book, removed the rose, and playfully placed it between his teeth.
I couldn't help but laugh at his antics. "Apology accepted. However, if you got any teeth marks on that rose, I may have to decline that gift." Joe Fox quickly removed it, wiped the stem that had been in his mouth, and offered it to me. I happily accepted it and sat down in the chair he had pulled out for me, sitting down after I had made myself comfortable.
"I can't believe how busy it is right now!" I observe loudly amongst the noise, fidgeting with my necklace.
"Everyone needs their caffeine fix. I hope you don't mind that I talk a little bit of business to you," Joe Fox waited for a sign that it was okay to carry on with his point. "When I was create the blueprints for Fox Books, one of the first things we came up with was a coffee spot. We knew we'd get tons of business selling consumers books and legal, addictive stimulants. I mean, after you buy a good book, don't you just want to sit down with a coffee, open it up, and just enjoy it in a nice coffee shop? This is where most of America's money is going into!" Joe Fox's eyes seemed to glint with excitement. I couldn't help but smile back at him and chuckle.
"Wow, Joe Fox! This talk of work really gets you going, huh?" I nod, giving a tinge of sarcasm in my tone. He looked at me, cleared his throat, and adjusted himself in his seat.
"I'm sorry for talking business. It's our second date. We should be getting to know each other more," he paused, "except, I kind of know a lot about you already, being you used to be my worst nemesis." Joe Fox looked down at the table and back up at me. Did he not have any remorse?
"Joe, do you really have to go..." I had begun, but before I knew it, Joe Fox had stood up from his seat, leaned over the table, and kissed me. He actually kissed me! In front of all these people!
He stopped and sat back down, "I had to stop you mid-sentence, before you'd say something that would probably cause us to argue and we'd be right back at square one, ShopGirl." He was right. The kiss we had shared wiped any mean, unkind thing I was going to say to him. I sat there with a dreamy expression on my face, my toes curled in my ballet-type slippers.
"So, what am I going to tell Patricia?" I asked him. He pondered about my question for a minute. Stewing around as if to come up with the answer to a million dollar question.
"Well, you could tell her that you have to get emergency surgery." He paused. "Or, you could say that you had to make nice with one of your worst enemies." At that moment, Joe Fox began pointing at himself. I shook my head, looking down at the table and back at Joe.
"You're so...I don't know what you call it! Crazy? Funny? A mixture of both? I can't find the word about you." Joe Fox remained smiling at me. Those eyes were tantalizing. Those smile wrinkles on the side of his eyes proved to me that he had shared many good, happy times with many people in his life so far. This was a good sign!
"Well, since you can't think of the word and we've already got your story for Patricia figured out, want to go and catch a movie?" Out of his jacket pocket, he produced two tickets to see Pride and Prejudice on the big screen. Not the older version, but the new one starring Colin Firth. I smiled, snagging my ticket out of his hand.
"Yes! I'd love to!" I rejoiced.
Joe Fox rose from his seat, held out his hand, and helped me up, pushing my seat in after me. "But before we go, let's get some coffee! The line conveniently has shortened and we have an hour before the movie."
We stood in line holding hands the entire way to the barista. I felt like a school girl with her very first boyfriend. Sure, there would be some wrinkles I'd have to iron out with Joe Fox, but I was up for the challenge. We could very well make this romance work!
The coins Joe Fox dropped into the tip jar clinked loudly and we were back on the busy streets of New York. This time, Shopgirl and NY152 were no longer walking alone. This would be one of the many walks they'd embark on for the rest of their days together.