Life has a cruel way of saying that it was getting tired of listening to my ramblings about how unfair it was. Take for example, I was walking down a perfectly quiet alley, just being lost in my thoughts as usual, when suddenly, a burly guy with beard covering half of his face, a super haggard appearance with a big sunglasses covering his eyes, and grime covering his clothes, bumped into me and caused me to fall to the ground face first. I shrieked — not my proudest moment, I can assure you — and tried to avoid kissing the paved road with my face using my hands. My hands made contact with the rough pavement and I swore I could feel my skin getting scratched causing me to wince and squeal in pain. What was even more annoying was the fact that the burly guy didn’t even flinch or stagger after his huge body crashed into mine so cruelly and violently. I cursed under my breath before getting up and took a closer look at my ruined palms — well, not that ruined but still, there were scratches — and then proceeded to give my fiercest glare towards the man, who was still standing there looking all innocent.
“Excuse me, sir,” I said and I deliberately made sure that those polite words were laced with the deadliest venom.
“Uh…yes?” he said looking quite confused.
“Look here, Mister. You should at least apologize after knocking me over and making my palms look like this,” I said while showing him my scratched palms.
He looked at me blankly — well as blankly as a guy with a sunglasses and a jungle-ish beard can be, I mean, you could barely look at his face behind all those things covering it— and muttered, “Uh…sorry.”
I blinked and stared. Really. I didn’t care that it was rude to stare and I probably just broke every rule known to men — and women — that my parents tried to taught me about staring at people so rudely, but I continued to stare. This guy was weird. Extremely weird. With his big bulky build, I was prepared for a big fight just to get him to apologize for knocking me over, but instead I got this almost-timid and quick sorry from him. Did that make any sense?
“Uh..okay. Just…be more careful when you walk in the future, alright?”
He nodded briskly and then there was an awkward silence between us. I tried to rub my dirty palms on the front of my shirt but apparently, the abrasions didn’t sit well with the action causing me to wince painfully.
“Are you alright?” asked that guy who, apparently, was still standing in front of me.
“Uh…fine. Just a scratch.”
“Doesn’t sound like a scratch,” he mumbled.
“I said, it doesn’t sound like a mere scratch.”
I stared again. Now he just sounded worried even though he kept mumbling and muttering. Was he? Or was it just my imagination? I was told that I always had an overactive imagination by my parents and friends. So, really I needed to make sure if the worry that I heard in his voice was really there or if it was only a fragment of my over-imaginative mind.
“Uh…do you…need to go to the hospital…or something?” he asked while cratching his unruly beard and looking super awkward. Thank goodness the road was quiet and there were only few people around so that nobody paid too much attention to our little banter or they would think that I was the one bullying this big guy.
“What?” I queried, confused but sure that the worry was there, alright. “No..no I don’t need to go to the hospital. I just don’t like pain, that’s all.” And a bit over-dramatic, said the other me inside my mind — the less drama queen version of me.
“Are you sure?” that guy asked again.
“Yeah…pretty sure I’ll live.”
Well, couldn’t this day got any weirder that it already had? I was so ready to fight with this guy just minutes before, now I was trading jokes with him? Gosh, sometimes I hated my short concentration span so much. It made staying in one emotion or things in general such a difficult task. Anyway, I realized that there was a somewhat awkward but not exactly awkward silence between us now, and I used the chance to scratch my suddenly-itchy head and checked my watch. Holy shit! I didn’t realize that I had spent quite a lot of time talking and arguing — or trying to — with this burly man in front of me.
“Look. I’m fine, okay? No worries. I’m just being overly dramatic. So, I gotta rush here. Bye,” I said in a rush. I turned around and started to run when I felt a big and rough hand grabbed my elbow quite rudely.
It was that guy again. What did he want with me? I lost it. I was about to forgive him for ruining my palms and just forgot the whole thing even happened, but then he did that and I simply lost it. I took a deep breath and gathered all the flowery vocabularies I knew throughout my life and, with the sole intention of chewing him out for his action, began to open my mouth to shout at this super rude guy.
“Look here, Mister. I told you that I gotta rush, and really, I was being extremely nice with you here, looking what you’ve done to my palms with your recklessness in walking, so while I’m still being very nice, you better let go of me or you will face the consequences.” I said all that in a breath and as a result after that long sentence, I was a bit out of breath which, when I look back at this incident years later, might actually made me look undignified and not the least bit scary or intimidating compared to my opponent. But, alas, I was extremely pissed at him; so obviously, I didn’t think that far ahead.
He smiled and snickered a bit, which he tried to hid by coughing but I heard it anyway. How dare he! I felt my anger and embarassment coming up right to the top of my head. If I was a cartoon character in one of those animation movies, my head would surely explode that time.
“What are you laughing at?!” I shouted at him. I shook his hand and he finally let go of my elbow. I glanced at my elbow and saw a red print started to form on the place where he grabbed me. Shit. I bruised easily and he just had to grab that hard. Damn. Shit. Damn!
“Sorry. Sorry. It’s just that…,” he said while still trying to stop himself from laughing.
“Just what?” I queried, annoyed at the way he kept on mumbling, muttering, and stalling. I got an appointment in — I glanced at my watch again and holy shit! — ten minutes. I would be 100% dead by the time I arrived. My best friend would kill me if I was late, and I would surely be late because of this dude!
“Sorry,” he said. I huffed and about to give him another piece of my mind when he continued, “…it’s just that…you dropped your wallet. Here.” And he gave a small red wallet to me.
I looked at it first, almost not recognizing my own wallet in my shock — and utter embarassment. Then I looked at him. He just smiled. Then I looked at the wallet again and grabbed it quickly before putting it safely inside my back pocket. I scratched the back of my head again — a habit I developed whenever I felt nervous or embarassed — and looked at him again after clearing my throat several times.
“Er…sorry. And thanks…”
He smiled. “Never mind. I was the one at fault for not watching where I was going. I could treat your palms for you if you want. Free of charge.”
“Er…it’s okay. I gotta go. My friend is waiting for me.”
“Are you sure?”
“Sure. Yes. Sure. I’m fine. So…”
I finally knew how awkward a silence could be. I scratched my head again.
“Uh…can I treat you for a cup of coffee, perhaps? Or…not…,” he said. He sounded so unsure. I was unsure. Was he…interested in me? Or was it just his guilt talking? Nah, pretty sure it was his guilt talking.
“Really. You don’t need to feel guilty or whatever. Let’s just pretend you never ran into me and the earlier incident, well, incidents, including my stupidity and short-temper, never actually happened. How about that?”
He looked kinda disappointed. Kinda.
“Uh…sure,” he said.
“So, I gotta go. Bye. Thanks. Sorry. Uh, I mean thanks.” I thought his stammering and mumbling was contagious. I usually was the chatterbox in my group, but look at me stammering and struggling to say anything to this guy.
I was a few steps ahead of him when I heard him said something.
“Uh…what if, I asked you for another reason?” he asked.
I looked at him, dumbfounded. And that was it. Obviously, I said yes to his nervous and unsure invitation that was so unlike his big built. Then we exchange contacts information and scheduled a date — no, it wasn’t really a date at first, really — for coffee. It led to another intense conversation about so many things that apparently we had in common. Later, he shaved his beard and got rid of his big sunglasses — he had a condition with his eyes that made them look like they were always squinting and many people bullied him when he was a little kid, hence the sunglasses — and I realized that I had just won a lottery with this guy. He wasn’t perfect and far from what people might think of as handsome, but he was funny, timid but witty, patient, the epitome of kind, and most of all, he could keep up with all of my craziness. So, obviously, we got together and after five years we decided to get married and were planning for a kid or two. In fact, now we were expecting our firstborn. How time flew by indeed.
And when I asked him, what made him extend that crazy invitation after I had so wrongly accused him of doing many things he didn’t do, he just said that he fell in love at first sight.
“It’s just something I saw in your eyes at that time,” he would say and then he would kiss me and hold me tight, and I forgot to ask him anything else.
While sometimes — well, a lot of times — we fought, but we stayed strong through the years. And I would always remember the two sentences that practically sealed the deal during our first meeting that day.
“I’m Adam,” he said while extending his hand. “Would you like to go for coffee sometimes?”
“I’m Jamie and…yes.”