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For people who spend the day saying and writing things that others accept, while thinking things that are infinitely more interesting.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Charlene's Bitter Coffee

Charlene was stacked. A tall brunette with slim hips, long legs, dark blue eyes and excellent excuses for mammary fixation, Charlene was a vision. The fact that she was a biology major made her a swan amongst groundhogs. A female swan amongst male groundhogs.

She and I met when I ventured into the herpetology lab. Eighteen cages were filled with a variety of snakes, one to a cage, all of them venomous. On several occasions prior to that day, I had milked the rattlesnakes, for making antitoxin, so I had dropped in just to see what was going on. Charlene walked by and started a conversation about the snakes.

She dressed very well, with great style and her attire was meant to be looked at. One could sense where she was in the Biology building by the scattered rush to a certain floor. Comical. Or worse.

We saw each other fairly often, but always in passing. I found it odd that she was almost always alone. We talked a couple of times, but like the first time, she would keep asking questions. If she hadn’t volunteered her name, I wouldn’t have asked. She was definitely behind a wall.

One morning, I had lingered in the cafeteria past mid-morning, sipping coffee. There were some 20 guys in the place, with a group of about 12 sitting together as a mass some tables away from mine, which was near the door. Charlene walked in. Tight jeans, stylish boots and boasting a grey angora sweater with a thin belt at her waist.

Conversation stopped. Twenty pairs of eyes watched her as she went through the line and started to get coffee. One pair of eyes dropped out. I searched the tables with two thoughts in mind: sugar and location. I was looking to see if there were still sugar servers on the tables. They weren’t, having been collected prior to lunch. Then I tried to predict where Charlene would sit. It would have to be somewhere between the mass of guys and my table. She wasn’t going to sit with me, that I knew. I noted the table. And made a decision.

Charlene paid for her coffee and once again, twenty pairs of eyes were glued to her. She glided to the table I had selected as her most likely choice. As she set the cup down, she glanced over at me and nodded. I nodded back. She sat down and reached for… nothing. She looked over at the register, past the mass of guys, where the sugar was. Then she turned and looked at me, a soft appeal on her face.

I waited half a second to shake my head. It was simply the expression of my earlier decision: If she wants sugar, she can get it herself.

I knew my reasons. The overt one was my thought that if she dressed for attention, then she had to live with the results of that attention. That one made me feel self-righteous. The other, darker and covert reason was that I simply would not risk being seen doing her a favor, the sad sack guy trying to coddle up to the beauty queen. She picked me because I was safer than any other alternative. I was also the only guy who simply couldn’t do it.

Charlene drank her bitter coffee. Mine was suddenly bitter, too.


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