Driving back to Florida after the wedding in Virginia I had stopped for gasoline some place outside of Jacksonville. I sat in the car for a while trying to get out of that lethargic state one gets from driving too long between breaks. As I was getting out of the car this man drove up in a white van and began staring at me from between the pumps.
“Nice feet,” he says. I look up at him as I’m pulling on my sandals. “I like the way you painted your toes. Nice color.”
I had used OPI: I AM NOT REALLY A WAITRESS. My toenails were bright red. I wiggled them under his gaze. It was a normal response.
“So, you like driving barefoot?”
“It’s comfortable, ” I answered. “Especially on long drives.”
He asked me where I had been driving from. I told him, my daughter’s wedding. He asked how many kids I had. I told him: three. He then asked if I was married. I said: not for some time. He then volunteered his own life history, as though we were suddenly friends because of my marital status. I slid my credit card, punched in my zip code and began pumping gas while he told me he never found the right girl to marry. He had several long term relationships over the years, some liked him enough to marry but he didn’t like them and some he liked but they didn’t care enough for him to wed. Then he said: “you’re a fine looking woman, If you don’t mind my sayin’.”
No, I don’t mind, I thought. Wow, this diet is finally paying off. 120 pounds in two years. Although this dude is not really my type. He looks about fortyish and has a pleasant enough face, but doesn’t quite fit my criteria for dating. He works as a sales rep for some company selling beverages. I think he was selling to the store that was part of the station when he spotted me while getting into his van and drove over to get a better look. “Thanks,” I said.
“Maybe I’ll give you my number. You can call me. We can go out.”
I stared at him and hung up the pump. His thick black hair combed back over his head was glossy and streaked with gray at the temples.
“Well, I just ended a long term relationship. I’m not ready to go out–” I had just told him I lived in Fort Myers, several hours south.
“Here.” He held out his hand through his open window. There was a piece of paper in his palm that he held secure with his thumb. It looked like his thumbnail was chewed down to a stub.
I hesitated and looked around to see If anyone was watching our bizarre interchange. Everyone seemed preoccupied with pumping gas or walking into the store. None were looking at two strangers In conversation.
“Just give me a call if you want to go out.” He shook the paper at me. His blue eyes brightened as I stepped over the concrete island that separated our vehicles. There were no windows on the white van and no sign or lettering to indicate it was a company vehicle. I pictured him grabbing me and putting his hand over my mouth to muffle my scream while he shoved me into his van and knocked me out. Silence of the Lambs seemed to ooze from my skin. I stood a few feet away and reached for the paper. His hand closed around my fingers pressing my fingertips into his soft, moist, fleshy palm. It was warm, almost hot. I blushed. I didn’t pull away. He smiled and squeezed my fingers a little more and rubbed them between his before letting go. Creepy, I thought. I stood back and looked down at the torn piece of paper in my hand. It had a number scribbled on it. His hand writing was like a six year old, awkward and uneven.
“My, you’re a fine looking woman,” he said. I followed his eyes as they washed over my body, from my neck to my toes. I did look thinner in my long gray tunic and black skinny jeans.
“Thanks,” I said, wondering if it was the right thing to say. I didn’t want to encourage him. I really didn’t think he was my type. He wasn’t even very handsome. He kept staring at me as if waiting for something else. I stared back at the steel-blue gaze. “It’s been a long time. I mean I just lost a lot of weight in the last year or so.”
“You look fine,” he said.
“Thanks,” I said again. I walked back to my car knowing he was sitting, waiting, and staring until I got in and drove away. I checked myself in the mirror. My hair and make-up were fine but I looked tired. The van disappeared in my rear view mirror. It hadn’t moved from the pumps and i noted that he had never gotten out to pump gas the whole time we’d been talking. I began to think about the creepy guy in the white, windowless van and the way his fleshy palm had felt, soft, warm and moist and the way he looked at me, and I felt a little guilty for eating a half of a cup cake at my daughter’s wedding.
What the hell was that all about?!!!