Monday, October 02, 2006

SB Day: Proof That Life Is Not A Romance Novel (A Day In the Life of a Bookseller)*

*What follows for this Smart Bitches Day might very well fall under the heading of “Too Much Information.” You have been warned.

In the grand spectrum of romances, the accidental meeting that leads to the romantic interlude is not uncommon. Nor is it strange for that meeting to take place after an embarrassing situation. In real life, however, we rarely want to stick around and meet the people we’ve embarrassed ourselves in front of, let alone strike up a romantic relationship with them.

Take what happened to me just the other day, a little something we’ll call the bra incident. I woke up late that morning and had to rush to get ready so that I could arrive in time for my opening shift. As I pulled out my work clothes I realized that all of my bras were drying downstairs in the laundry room. No problem, I thought, I’ll just put on my shirt, grab my bra, and put it on when I get to work. I was going to have to drive anyway so it wasn’t like I was going to be jiggling down the street as I jogged to the store.

Only the main streets I usually take were blocked by construction, and I was forced to go around. The route I ended up on may have one of the longest lights in the city and I realized after I sat through one—only advancing two spaces during the brief green—that I was going to have do something soon. My original plan to finish dressing didn’t take into account my need to get my caffeine addiction serviced by Starbucks, nor the fact that as soon as I get into the mall I freeze thanks to the A/C. I didn’t exactly want to wander into my local coffee shop with my “headlights” on. Of course, none this would matter if I couldn’t get to work early enough to get some coffee, and traffic was being a real bitch.

A quick scan revealed that the guy in the truck next to me was staring straight ahead and the driver in front of me wasn’t looking in their rearview mirror. Years of theatre, swim team and camp (not to mention the naturally female ability) had taught me how to change/pull clothes on without revealing any bare skin, and so it seemed only logical that I take care of my bra problem there.

Yes, obviously I was not awake yet, but I managed it. Looped the seatbelt around my knee, pulled my arms inside my shirt, wiggled there, jiggled here, a shrug and then I was done. Barely a strip of skin bared, and changing wouldn’t dig into my coffee time.

Yay, me.

It was only as I was resituating my seatbelt that I noticed the guy in the truck: thirties, clean cut, casual business dress, and the biggest grin on his face. His cheeks must have hurt later that day because, good god, that smile was wide. As I made eye contact he raised his hands and slowly began to clap.

I. Was. Mortified. Turned bright, tomato red. In a daze I pretended to bow and then turned to look straight ahead.

Thankfully the light chose that moment to change, and the traffic actually started moving. My “audience” was kind enough to let me cut in front of him so that I could make it into the parking garage, but the entire time I feared that he would (or had to) park there also. If he’d followed me into the garage I probably would have run. If he’d approached me, I probably would have maced him or expired on the spot.

But had this been a romance novel I would now have the number of some stunningly gorgeous man (because, of course, he would have been stunningly gorgeous, not to mention totally impressed by my ingenuity), and he’d be buying me dinner right now at some elegant restaurant. Instead I’ll be running out to the grocery store in a few minutes to snag the veges for stir fry. Had this been a romance novel I could guarantee that this guy didn’t go tell his whole office about the girl he saw performing a bra-Houdini trick in the front seat of her car instead of putting on mascara or liner like all the normal girls.

Life is not a romance novel, however, and I’m really hoping that he has a bad, bad memory for faces because I may die if he ever walks into my store and recognizes me.

23 comments:

Beth said...

Dude. That was fookin beautiful.

Bernita said...

Oh! Oh!
Yes! Yes!
Priceless.

Bernita said...

BTW, I doubt he really looked at your face...

leila said...

That's pretty much the best thing I've ever heard. Thank you.

PS. If it makes you feel any better... I was once told to "turn my headlights down" by a guy panhandling in the Harvard Square T-stop. Then he asked me for money. Definitely not a romance novel moment either. Sigh.

Misty said...

because I may die if he ever walks into my store and recognizes me.

Aw, honey, if he's so rude as to come in your place of business and bring the subject up, then he deserves the withering stare of scornful nonrecognition you most assuredly will give him.

Dwight The Troubled Teen said...

If he ever shows up in the store, you can cut through the embarassment rather quickly:

Two words. Mardis. Gras.

piksea said...

Wonderful story, thanks for that visual. You forgot to mention that if your tale was in a book, he would have always been an incorrigible bachelor billionaire prince (the kind that is actually in line for a throne) who fell madly in love with you at first sight.

I like the anecdotes of real life so much better than the absurdities of much romantic fiction.

Racy Li said...

That was a fantastic story!

Trish Ryan said...

Priceless! And you never know...he may have spent all day asking people about you, trying to find that gorgeous woman who wowed him with her multi-tasking :)

Shanna Swendson said...

If it had been a romance novel, the guy would have turned out to be the new regional manager of your bookstore chain who had come to town to check out your store, and the next time you saw him would have been at some important meeting, when he'd be introduced as the new regional manager, and he'd give you a smoldering look as he said, "Oh, we've already met."

Or possibly he would have shown up in your store to apply for a job (because he was independently wealthy and escaping the rat race after a broken heart, of course, and just wanted to work in a bookstore because of his great love for books), and while you wouldn't want to hire him because of embarrassment, you'd also be afraid not to hire him because it really would be unfair bias, and what if he blackmailed you?

RandomRanter said...

Well, Bernita beat me to it, but let me second that he was not looking at your face. It's all good. And just think he started his day happy, thanks to you!

SteveInLA13 said...

Almost as embarrassing as my changing from shorts to jeans in the car story. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

And how adorable are you? I like you even more now.

Hey, if the guy does approach you while you're at work, maybe the two of you were meant to be.

Come to think of it, I don't recall ever having a romantic moment in my life. Who out there has and would like to share?

Agent Kristin said...

Throw out the romance angle. It's an excellent opening for a women's fiction work!

And that blog entry should come with a beverage alert.

Luckily I was only drinking water...

Jennifer R said...

This post is making me reconsider the idea I have of changing into my gym clothes at the end of work without leaving my cube (if I don't do it during work, I can't make it to the class on time). I do have a guy who works right next to me, after all..

s9 said...

Heh. In real life, of course, the guy is married with a kid, and you'll never see him again. If you do see him, he won't remember you. If you go out of your way to remind him about "the bra incident," he'll be creeped right the hell out. And if, after he remembers, you tell him how terrified it made you feel, he'll apologize politely and make a point of avoiding you from then onward.

Marta said...

You gave the guy a wonderful start for the day, and you gave me a real laugh.

Some things are better than fiction, and this story is one of them.

Thanks for not being too embarrassed to share.

Christine Fletcher said...

Wonderful story! LOL funny.

Orhan Kahn said...

You are quite a gifted writer.

Stephanie Blake, Colorado Writer said...

Just imagine running into him in Starbucks later. How fun would that be?

Robin Brande said...

AAAA! What a great story! You have proven yourself doubly-brave, BSC: first, for the maneuver at the light, second for telling us about it.

You definitely have the makings of a romance heroine. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you do Jennifer. But I rarely peek.

Dani-Lou said...

Quality! Would pay to read this stuff!