Leeza (the 13 year old sister of my roommate Lisa) and I are in the building 220 lobby, heads-down on our phones, waiting for Lisa and Peter (my BF). The lobby is huge and deserted except for a lady concierge at the front desk, a security guard and the doorman - all far away from us. This is by way of explaining that our masks are off - mine hanging, useless, on my left ear.
When this unmasked guy, I was grazingly introduced to at last year’s 220-building Christmas party walks up to us and says, “Anais, Hi. You’re back!”
I flinched. I know a lot of people are over the whole mask thing and the covid thing - and have the temerity to risk it all, but I don’t - did I mention flu season or covid variations? Someone unmasked getting unexpectedly up in my personal space is jarring, rude, and on several levels dangerous and scary.
“Oh, hi,” I said. I vaguely recognized him, but I couldn’t remember his name. He’s one of those guys who’s cutely strange looking. He’s short (5’4”) (nothing wrong with that, short kings, you’re valid), his hair’s dark at the roots but blonde tipped (beach-hair?) and when he smiles, and he smiles a lot, his smile looks too big for his face. I remember he’d seemed socially awkward when we met, and Lisa had said his father is someone important.
“Yeah,” I said, with a shrug, “Holidays again.” I briefly bob up on my toes, to glance over Leeza’s head and to my relief, I see Lisa and Peter coming out of the elevator. I decide to mask up and seeing me do it, Leeza does as well.
“I’m sorry,” I said apologetically, “I remember you, but I can’t remember your NAME. I’m an idiot.” I give him my best, ditzy shrug.
He reintroduced himself, “Merritt,” he said, offering his hand and smiling again, still unmasked. As I shook his hand he twisted in Leeza’s direction and said, “Hi Leeza!” She gave him the smallest possible 13-year-old’s courtesy nod.
Peter and Lisa arrived, having masked up. “Merritt, hey!” Lisa said, greeting him warmly. “Have you got senioritis yet?” she asked, cheerfully. “Merritt’s graduating from Brown this year,” she announced, turning to include us all in the good news. “Public policy, ya?” She followed up.
“That’s it,” he confirmed, beaming.
“Congratulations!” I said, nodding.
“Way to go!” Peter added with a “yes” nod.
“Merritt, this is Peter,” Lisa said, taking charge. “He belongs to Anais.” she reported, as they shook hands and exchanged nods. “Merrit,” Lisa said, in a disappointed tone, “I hate to rush off, but we’re in a scramble for a dress fitting,” she lied. Lisa can lie like a politician.
And just like that, in something like 45 seconds she shook-off Merritt - who seems like a very sticky guy indeed - without resorting to mace or anything - Lisa’s got charm.
Thoughts about charm..
My grade, in physics 3 (an A-) was 2-one-hundredths from an A+. I almost certainly (like 85%) could have charmed the professor for that tiny bit. We’ve all seen it done - you put on a self-effacing smile and say, “I’m so close, is there something I can do for extra credit?” But I can’t DO it, physically, I can’t say the words and beg for grades. It’s like I can picture my mom watching me having to beg for something she earned, and I’d be mortified to even try. It’s my small disadvantage, a self-imposed handicap.
Besides, if I did betray my code, there’s the awful chance the professor might say no - and that would **** me.
Lisa, on the other hand, wouldn’t actually have to charm. She’d ask about her grade, periodt. The teacher, seeing there’s something he or she could do for this goddess - would just do it. With no asking involved.
Imagine you’re an airline agent and Beyonce´ stepped up to your station. She has a little problem you could effortlessly fix with a click of your mouse. Would you, do it? Hells-yes you would and before she even asked. “It’s already done,” you’d say - just to have Queen Bey smile at you.
The rest of us have to work at it (sigh) - and take our chances..
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Temerity: "a foolhardy contempt for danger”
periodt - an absolute period - there’s nothing else.