I accidentally catch the envious glance from a secretary wearing a chic tailor, obviously thinking we are a couple. I address her a content smile… There you go, in your face, snobby! I stare back, establishing my fictive territory. It is good to be Mrs Madsen! And still, in my imaginary relationship, existing only in the snobbish tweed wearing secretary’s mind and mine, our union hasn’t been consumed yet! Ok, a little consumed, but I didn’t have time to think about a worthy wedding night. I would guess that the real life deal would be quite something….
We head towards the turning doors, and the sun caresses my skin as soon as we get out of the building. I enjoyed the ride down, but I can’t deny I missed being in the open air. And since summer doesn’t always stretch up like this year, I like to spend every moment I can outside when the weather is nice. Since the bitchy secretary incident, I feel surprisingly comfortable with Gabriel. To be sure not to say anything dumb again I decide to stick to a pretty neutral ground; a monologue about my everyday life shared with my two furry balls (ok, that might have sounded weird!) and I subtly mention that there is no man in the picture… He likes animals too (of course, he is perfect) he even has a dog at home.
– My girlfriend had it when we met… She used to introduce us as her two great Danes.
A French expression comes to my mind… “Mon chien est mort”. Literally “my dog is dead”, meaning there is no point hoping to get any closer to my sweet doctor. But I can’t blame her. (Bitch! Oups, sorry, I have a mild De La Tourette syndrome when I come across one of those almost-perfect-men steelers.) I hesitate to take the pack of cigarettes out of my purse when I see a pack of Malboros coming out of Gabriel’s pocket.
– Would you mind if I…
I answer by grabbing my DuMauriers and he smiles, we now share the complicity of the big-bad-killing-with-their-secondary-smoke-smokers!! He grabs a cigarette, slips it between his bulky lips. I didn’t know one could envy a cigarette! I pick myself one, and try to find my lighter, which has, of course, fallen at the very bottom of my bag… I am still searching around when I hear something clicking.
– May I light your fire?
Are you kidding me?! In fact, I am starting to wonder if he is playing with double sense expressions, in perfect awareness, or if it is just a second language thing. With a girlfriend in the way, it is a lot less enticing. – An elegant S.T. Dupont sways under my nose to set alight (Oh,you can set me alight, alright) the tip of my cigarette. – I take a moment to consider if I would even be able to break up a couple. It is a girlfriend, after all, not a spouse… I watch the light on his profile, his lips sucking a well earned and appreciated puff. As he lets a long waft out and turns towards me, I think I could at least give it a try, if I had a chance…
– It is a shame to have lunch by myself all week… Would you join me? It’d be fun to talk a little more.
There you go! Congrats Maryse… It is not as if I didn’t know the old saying “be careful what you wish for”. Had I been asked, just a few seconds ago what I hoped for at this stage, I would have wanted him to invite me no matter where to or when. And now, I face a moral dilemma. I can’t resign to let him disappear in the urban jungle, where I would have no valuable reason to search him after. On the other hand, the professional in me can’t set her mind on the idea of following a handsome stranger when I should already be at work. If at least I knew for a fact he was single and a little interested… Crappy life!
– I’d really like to…
– But no… No, no, I understand, it was a bit enterprising… We don’t know each other after all.
I feel like my foot is on its way back into my mouth, and I weigh every word, wanting to explain myself and make sure Gabriel doesn’t feel as if I am turning him down.
– No, really, I would love having lunch with you! Eating and chatting are two of my favorite activities (another one is waking up, but we’ll leave it in the closet for the moment). But I am already late for work and I work in the eastern part of the town.
– Hmm hmm…
He breathes in another puff and I notice a mild tension of his neck and jaw muscles. Disappointment? Certainly not, but it must feel a little frustrating to feel turned down.
– Are you taking the subway? (I nod) I’ll walk you to the station then? The little bistro I had in mind is just across the street.
We descend the stairs down to the sidewalk, he walks by my side, slightly behind me. I change the subject, mentioning the fact that he smokes Malboros, which is far from common in Montréal. He explains that friends of his that still travel a lot have established some kind of black market, exchanging favors for a regular providing of his European cigarettes.
– Who doesn’t have a vice…? Perfection is boring. (he winks and I don’t feel the least bit of bragging in his voice) In Denmark, the anti-smoking lobby is a lot less active… Hey, what can I say, even the Queen smokes! It’s just a “treat” I allow myself -he stares at the burning cigarette – I could get used to another brand, but why would I when I can keep my favorite? It is silly, I could just go down to the US, it would be a lot easier. But it is psychological… They just don’t taste the same.
I feel that the subtle tension that I had created against my will is now wearing off. I see the subway sign peaking on the corner of the street, and I am tempted to push Gabriel against the concrete building’s wall before he notices it too, and we have to go our separate ways. But I tell myself that I am far from a quarterback, silhouette-wise, and I am afraid I wouldn’t be able to pull myself away from his chest if I do it. I’ll have to be a big girl I guess.
We chitchat a bit more in front of the French bistro neighboring the subway station. A good scent of freshly baked bread comes from the door every time a client goes in. It would be great to follow Gabriel, but it wouldn’t be reasonable since he didn’t insist again, since his invitation in the stairs in front of the clinic.
We talk about all and nothing, with the freedom of two people well aware that even if they share a great moment, it will remain, once gone their separate ways, just a pleasant souvenir. It seems that the reason why we “met” is miles behind me, and I think Gabriel forgot about it too.