I have to pull myself together now. Life rarely gives second chances, and when it does, you have to seize it! I am hoping to take advantage of this eleven story descent to the max, which should give me a good… 45 seconds? Maybe a minute? Take your time elevator! I place back my hair by running my fingers through it, and quickly overview the possible small talk I could start…
– How long have you been in Québec?
Oh wow! Way to go girl! Most interesting question E-VER! He is never going to forget your mind-blowing orator talents! But he doesn’t seem annoyed or disappointed by the more than ordinary way to break the ice… He stares blankly, obviously counting mentally the years passed here.
– Oh, I’ve been in Montréal for about seven years now. I love this city… (blank stare again) It sounds “cliché” but it is the European soul in the heart of America that draws people here… Like me. It is the best of two worlds, and people here don’t seem to realize it, sadly. (He pauses, I agree and he keeps talking) Would you mind not being office formal? (I shake my head) Good! New start then… Gabriel pleased to meet you. (Handshake slightly more casual, but still as pleasant) I hear my last name so often at work… Simply Gabriel would be refreshing!
Ding! I had forgotten the elevator. I get in, making sure not too fall again. My usual ease at standing up is a pride that has been grazed just a few minutes ago. Strangely, the elevator stall is empty. By reflex, I lean on the metallic ramp, and silently thank the genius who thought about it, and debated to have one installed during the Otis brainstorm meetings years ago. Because anyone would agree that for a forty five seconds ride, even elders could make it without something to hang on to…
He gets in after me, turns his back just long enough to press on the ground floor button and my brain goes wild. The doors close down, and it is the first time I am glad to be in a cramped metal box. A real movie scene, and the saxophone starts again in my head when he turns around to face me. I am on the lookout for any opening, any sign of an invitation… Why doesn’t he press the alarm button and stop time for a moment?
I would settle for a kiss… Hmmm, just a little kiss… Awww! I have to find a way not to go catatonic here. Quick, quick, I need a little help, brain! I suddenly think about Daniel. Daniel Anderssen is a Swedish co-worker I like to chat with and who might save my life just now. Note to self: I’ll have to buy him a strong Tim Horton coffee every working day we will share for the next month!!
– Is Danish close to Swedish? Because I have a friend at work who comes from Sweden, and he has been making me practice my greetings in Swedish. I’m definitely not good, so I stick to one phrase for the moment, but we all have to start somewhere, right?
I think I scored a point here… Blondie, ok, but blondie who is somewhat interested in Scandinavia, that is a lot less common! He raises an eyebrow, half surprise, half amused.
– Go ahead, please!
I feel like a school girl about to recite her lesson. I turn the phrase over and over in my head before finally letting it out as it comes…
– Yég biheuver kramass lite! (I try to work out my best Swedish accent)
I expect a smile and a response, neither of which come. I sense some embarrassment in the air and Gabriel’s cheeks take a faint reddish taint. I clearly feel I’ve just stuck my foot in my mouth yet again!
– Behöver du kramar?… I don’t want to tell you what to do, but I’d keep that kind of greetings for people very close to you…
He chuckles nervously. I hesitate a moment, and ask doctor Madsen what I just said. While I wait for a translation, I think of all the months Daniel has spent making me practice this… Why haven’t I had the idea of googling his shit??!?
– You… (the blushing is getting a lot clearer now) You asked me to hug you… well… in fact, you said you needed a little hugging!
Note to self: Buy arsenic for Daniel’s coffee tomorrow morning!
Ding! Saved by the bell again. We’ve stopped by fourth floor, and 3 people get in with us. I am a bit disappointed to cut the conversation, but at least a get a moment to breathe and figure if I maybe have just imagined the last thirty seconds.
Ding! Another stop, second floor now. Four more people enter the stall, we squeeze up a little bit and we are so close to each other that I can smell Gabriel’s perfume wrapping me. My embarrassment must be blatant, for he leans to my ear to murmur;
– Don’t worry, that was cute… Next time you see him, just tell him “Skitsövel” and you’ll be even!
With my mind made up not to let my naivety fail me and eventually find up I am peddling silly stuff in between interposed Scandinavians, I lean a bit towards Gabriel, and ask what it means. I can’t help but be all smiles when he tells me it is an insult literally meaning “boot full of shit”.