You are standing, holding a cup of coffee. You think it might be empty, but are unsure. Why are you still holding it? Because someone is talking to you. Though it would be more accurate to say, at you, because you haven’t been doing much of the speaking. This is hardly a conversation but it’s not exactly a lecture either because this person seems friendly enough. They have even made you laugh a few times or stated something interesting that caused you to pause in contemplation. Why then are you uncomfortable?
Is it because you believe this person might try to sell you something, or maybe ask you for a charitable donation? That seems unlikely, as this person’s demeanor has never indicated a propensity for business. You raise your cup to your mouth and it is confirmed, the coffee has been already drunk. You finished it a few minutes ago without noticing. A nervous habit to deal with this person who is talking to you.
Are you uncomfortable because this person is a stranger? That could hardly be true, you’ve seen this face on several different occasions, you’ve just never met them properly until now. You laugh at another joke, one that you would have only smiled at in a different circumstance. You’re not sure if it was funny, or, now that you think about it, if it was even intended as a joke. You look at your feet and trace your finger around the coffee cup. That’s when it occurs to you: this person is attempting to make a proposition for sex.
You knew that you were looking rather attractive today; in that outfit you bought while vintage shopping. The last time you were near a mirror, your skin was blemish free and your hair arranged in the perfectly messy way you like it. Yes, you were sure that you looked damn good. But still; you see the wedding ring, and in fact, this person has mentioned the loving spouse in question at least once with caring affection.
You’re becoming frustrated now. Doesn’t this perfect stranger have any sense of body language? You wonder why it is not obvious to this person that you have finished your coffee, that you are now ready to do something else with yourself. Your hand grasps your phone in your pocket, hoping that it will will ring and rescue you from this person. You wonder if you’ll greet this person next time you meet or if you’ll pretend you don’t see them.
You begin to speak but then hesitate and apologize for interrupting. The person is polite. There is no strain in their voice when they say, ‘Please,’ and gesture for you to continue. You are flustered now. You can’t possibly make eye contact. You straighten up your body and exhale. You’re not sure what to say. Either something like, ‘Well, I just...’ or ‘I really should…’ or ‘Excuse me, but…’ Yet you say none of these.
You smile again. That smile you do so well. The one that gets you into conversations like this so often. That smile that proves you’re sincere, that you’re a good person, that you’ve enjoyed these past few moments. It’s through that smile you say, ‘Nice to meet you.’