I eventually peak at my watch and realize I really have to leave, but I can’t find the words to put an end to our improvised head-to-head. I don’t have to, as he does it.
-I have to go. If I don’t head in, I’ll be outpaced by all the neighborhood’s regular famished clients. And my secretary, Yolande, (there’s the reason for the grumpy face! Her parents didn’t like her if they gave her that name!) will get mad at me if I get back late for my afternoon appointments.
Yolande… Really? She must be 21, 22 years old to the most… I must admit that I would be bitter too. On the other hand, it is not a good reason to allow herself to tell the charming doctor off. I take note to wish Yolande – I don’t get used to it – to meet a prince charming called Léandre or Tancrède and to get stuck with him. “Yolande and Tancrède are happy to invite you to celebrate their union…” That would be a blast!
– Oh no, we don’t want Yolande ( I put emphasis on her name, it is as disagreeable to say as it is to hear it. I wonder for a second what her surrounding nicknames her… Yoyo?? Just Yo? That’s just not possible…) to get angry! I would feel terribly guilty. Well, it’s been a pleasure Gabriel!
– The pleasure was mine!
I wait a moment, wondering if he will go for a peck on the cheek, or just a handshake… Personally, I am a fervent supporter of freedom of expression, so I am totally open, if he decides to kiss me passionately, I won’t protest! Finally, I understand that we both agree for a goodbye smile and a head nod. Less exciting but a lot more convenient for a first twenty minutes “date” on a downtown sidewalk during lunchtime.
– One last thing, and I warn you. I will check it out, so no jibber jabber please. How do you say “goodbye” in Danish?
Visibly, it amuses him, and he probably thought about a few horrible things that would sound good to the uncultivated. Things I could learn easily.
– Farvel skønhed!
I try to repeat…
– Farvel… What?
– You can just say “farvel”…
It has the merit of being particularly easy to remember. It sounds a lot like “farewell”, and two syllables, that is perfect for my initiated mouth.
– Farvel doctor Madsen!
I bow elegantly in a caricatural reverence, and he greets me again with a “farvel skønhed”, and I turn around heading for the subway station. Without overdoing it, I try to work on my walk, in the case – very improbable, I know, I am fighting against a manly hunger – he would still be watching. Once in the station I peak out the window. No worries about him noticing my looking back, even if he had binoculars, because the window panes don’t seem to have been cleaned since the subway opened, decades ago. If someone does maintenance, he obviously is paid to simply spread the dirt on the glass.
Oh my god, he didn’t enter the restaurant yet… He is watching over here… The inch of grime doesn’t allow me to see his facial expression, but he did wait to see me disappear before rushing into the restaurant! My butt 1, the bistro 0!
I feel like a spy, kneeling down, as if he could see me. And if he could indeed see me, I would probably look less suspicious if I WASN’T kneeling. He runs his fingers through his hair… Awwww! He turns away very nonchalantly, and is literally swallowed by the restaurant… *Sigh*
I suddenly realize how much of a chore my going back to work really is. I’ve never been the kind of person that gets to work backwards, but I am almost tempted to call to say my appointment didn’t go well, and that I won’t be able to attend my shift… After all, it would be just depressing to go back home now that I refused having lunch with Gabriel. And I wouldn’t have the guts to cross the street again and enter the bistro. I would look like a weathercock, and after all my earlier silliness, I am up for a little break.
The very idea of going home knowing I could walk back and find some excuse (“Hey! I just got a call, the building where I work just exploded! I guess I am off this afternoon after all…” or “Hey! I was about to step in the wagon, and I felt a little dizzy. Since I tend to have hypoglycemic problems, I thought you wouldn’t mind if I came back to sit down and have a bite after all.” or “Hey, the last four minutes have been hellish, I just want you so bad, I’ll wait for you in the bathroom! ” ok, that might be a little over the top.) to go back, and share lunch with him just makes me sick.
I let the escalator painfully take me down to the turnstiles. No surprise when the first booth refuses my ticket with a never seen before mechanical disdain. I take my ticket to a second booth… Without any more success! I am starting to think life is sending me a message. In fact, I kind of hope so, but the third one swallows the piece of paper and I see the green light meaning I won the turnstiles’ battle.
– Third time is a charm miss!
What the f….? That was the… the… What do we even call them anyway?! The kind of clerk who provides subway tickets and random information about the underground highway to tourists and lost locals… I have been convinced for years that those people are abducted from the countryside, and locked in the glass stools against their will. It’s true! I’ve never noticed any door, and I bet the clerks are fed through the little crack they pass money and tickets through… I have to pay closer attention next time I buy tickets, I might find a discreet “help me!” scribbled on the back of one of the pieces of paper. Anyway, he’s there, all smiles after finding a way to establish contact with the outside world, and obviously he had to scream his comment, because his abductors only pierced four or five holes in the bulletproof glass pane of the aquarium. One could wonder how they even manage to breathe in there.
I am tempted to turn around and let the clerk know it is not exactly the best time to fool around with me, but I am too stressed out to phrase what I want to say in a calm and polite way. And since I don’t want to end up in one of those stools, I just stare back furiously and go my way. After all, I still have to miss my ride by a few seconds, before suffering a service breakdown two stations before mine…