There’s a dry booger on the urinal wall. My major concern isn’t that there’s a dry booger on the urinal wall, but that a finger most likely got wet with urine placing it there. I scan the bar for hands dripping with gold. James, our drummer, pushes past the Jameson drinkers and offers his hand. I give him my elbow.
The rest of the band arrives and the we-should-probably-bail nods are exchanged. On the back of a client brief I write a note for the girl I’ve been watching from afar. She can clearly see me in her periphery and the intensity with which she talks to her friend increases as I approach. She has predicted the predictable.
“Hi. Enjoying your beer?” I am sure I still have some chicken cashew in my teeth, so speak through pursed lips.
“Yeaahhh…” She drags, followed quickly by a stereotypical schoolgirl giggle.
Not a good start.
I hand her the note folded three times. In primary school I folded a piece of paper six times on itself–I’m pretty sure that’s as folded as you can make it.
“Anyhow, just a little note that, you know, I thought I’d give you. Okay, so, read it, and let me know.”
“Let you know what?”
“The answer to what you’re going to read.”
“What about if I don’t?”
“Don’t read it? Well, I guess that’s your loss.” Who do I think I am? I feel good.
“Okay. First, tell me something interesting that I couldn’t learn from this piece of paper,” she says, waving the folded paper square in front of her; the square representing the last of my self-confidence.
“Well, I go to the aquarium every Saturday. I don’t like fish. I don’t particularly like stingrays, or sharks, either. I mean, I don’t mind sharks. I’ve never been attacked by one and they are quite beautiful in a strange way.”
“So why do you go to the aquarium?”
“The silence. I mean that sounds lame, but so is wearing a band t-shirt,” I counter, pointing to her chest.
“You equate the lameness of silence in an aquarium to a band t-shirt? I’ll read your note.”
I leave the bar with the band, not quite sure of what just happened. Did this band t-shirt wearing midget, with her short cropped hair, disarmingly small eyes and squished nose just rip my fucking soul out? I considered going back to retrieve my note. Then I remembered the contents, and it would only re-affirm what she is probably now thinking. The note read:
Hi, you’re cute. And I am not crazy. Despite what they say, you can’t tell if a person is crazy from their handwriting. Would you like a beer sometime? Tommy. [number].
Just then, as Sam sparked a cigarette and the car took off toward the outskirts of North Melbourne, I received a text:
Your handwriting belongs to a little boy. I’ll come to the aquarium with you on Saturday and then I’ll let you buy me a beer. Alice.