K.J. Hanson describes Jeff, a character in his short story Cheapskate, as a shlub. The noun remained in my head until I wrote something.
“He’s a shlub,” said the guy at the next table.
Although unfamiliar with the expression, I couldn’t have agreed more. The restaurant was crowded, and the jerk, dressed in a worn t-shirt and a grunge baseball cap to cover a scraggly head of hair, stood out in a crowd of business people. Some chatted effortlessly, others sat people watching, like the guy alongside of me. Whose dress was trending; jeans, white t-shirt and a herringbone blazer. His companion did all the talking while the guy pretended to listen, preoccupied with the ensuing drama.
The server delivered the check to the shlub, who immediately became agitated, flinging his arms up in the air and indicating some problem with the food.
His woman friend turn red in the face as the server removed their lunch plate like it was a hot plate. She was attractive in an intellectual way and rummaged through her handbag.
I imagined they’d met on line or some dating app. You know the type, skilled at embellishment and all about himself. It was probably their first date, but clearly their last as the woman got up to leave visibly shaken.
The guy at the next table stood when she did.
“Let me get that for you,” he said.
As they left the restaurant together, the shlub yelled, “What the fuck! You can’t do that.”
He wore a scowl. A permanent look of discontent. He glared at no one particular, and rarely smiled, but if he did, the smile never reached his eyes, like a basset hound whose jowls scrapped the floor, there was no emotion.
We met years ago, although never introduced. In retrospect, the event might have been better labeled a stare down. It was a bitter and windy day. I had ducked inside a city coffee shop to escape the pelting rain and found myself sitting next to him.
“Yikes! It’s wet outside.” I said sitting and shaking my umbrella free of rain.
The stools were the old fashion metal type with no backs that were low to the ground. My wet coat added to the squeaking noises produced by my twirling in place and attempting to prevent more damage. The man looked down, studied the drips puddling on the floor then locked eyes with me.
“Sorry,” I said feeling helpless. I smiled and ordered coffee and a bagel. He said nothing.
“It’s good to get out of the rain.” I mumbled.
His forearms rested on the counter and he stared straight ahead ignoring me, although our faces were visible in the mirror adorning the back wall. After draining his coffee cup, he signaled for a refill and frowned when the hot java tip toed near the top. He was handsome.
“I’d ask you out if you weren’t such a jerk.” I said.
“I dare you.” He responded scowling.
Seriously Just Saying
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Lynn stood on the sidewalk and could not remember who she used to be.
It was a horrible feeling.
She strolled casually to a nearby bench and sat to quiet the feeling.
The weather was mild. The sun strong.
It was not the present that disturbed her.
Having silly thoughts, she hummed an old Peggy Lee song, “Is That All There Is?”
She came to buy Christmas gifts, or so she thought.
Instead, she window shopped and tried on clothes in an upscale woman’s store; attempting to find a new identity.
Norman Rockwell’s picture of the golden-brown turkey on a large platter surrounded by family flashed across her mind.
Her romanticized past was painful to watch.
She had been the women wearing the plaid apron, trying to fulfill other people’s dreams. Okay, perhaps they’d been her dreams too.
It was hard to remember, things were different.
. . . just saying
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