On Meeting Cute

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This is why you should never leave the house without lip gloss:

So I’m on my way to the airport this morning, figuring I’ll take the train rather than risk getting stuck in a taxi in rush hour. Which guarantees that after two stops we end up going nowhere. “This train will be standing by due to a police action at Downtown Crossing” (a bomb threat, as it turns out)—”no trains will be moving until the issue has been resolved.” Collective noises of exasperation. Collective rolling of eyes. A flurry of tapping as everyone texts bosses, friends, whoever’s expecting them: “Will be late. Stupid train is stuck.” I contemplate the influence of sunk costs on decision-making (a pattern of reasoning to which I am very prone) and wonder how long I should wait. Minutes pass, and no progress, and I’m starting to feel the agitation of everyone around me. I decide to get out while the getting’s good.

Heading for the street, I see a couple of guys with suitcases, and offer to share a cab with them. And they say, no need, we’ve called our friend Rob*—and they promptly add—you’re welcome to ride with us. Touched by this gesture of neighborliness, I accept readily—just as well, as there are no cabs to be had since two subway lines were held up on the same street.

There are some moments of uncertainty. My new friends—let’s call them Joe and Mike—are trying to make a flight much earlier than mine—they need to get to the airport within the half hour. Mike had been fretting the night before about the prudence of taking the train, but Joe had reassured him repeatedly it was fine, reasonable, reliable. Mike is now in a recriminatory mood and has started to despair that his holiday in New Orleans is doomed. Slight suggestion this is all Joe’s fault. The suspense is telling on us all (I’m in good time for my flight but starting to think fondly of a ladies’ room). Can Rob make it to us in time??

There he is! cries Joe. We eagerly rush to Rob’s (or is it Mike’s?) SUV, tossing our luggage into the hatchback.

You’ve earned major karma points for rescuing us like this, I say as I settle into the back seat and Joe introduces me. Rob is gracious and modest. And also very handsome.

(And I’m only just realizing that I jumped into an SUV with 3 men, complete strangers, without hesitating. I guess I figured that no-one as nervous as Mike about making it to the airport on time could possibly be an abducting rapist…because the two traits never co-exist…? Fortunate that I got scooped up by 3 exemplary members of the vast majority of men who aren’t abducting rapists, ).

We speed off for the airport. Mike is starting to breathe a little easier—crisis averted, he’s able to start joking about things, his I-told-you-so to Joe now teasing, and less resentful. Then we hear someone honking the horn, but no-one in the car heeds it—busy road, rush hour, Boston—people honk so much for a myriad of pointless reasons, which only increases the pointlessness as no-one ever thinks that anyone else’s honking means anything. But something makes Joe look around and he curses and yells, the suitcases! my suitcase! the hatchback! Collective swearing and imprecations as Rob looks for a way to stop safely. The car’s still in motion and Joe has hopped out to run after the bag—only to find that our honker, far from being obnoxious, was being sincerely helpful—once he knew he had our attention, he’d stopped and retrieved Joe’s bag, and is now pulling up to toss it to Joe, who tosses it back into the SUV and flings himself onto the good samaritan in a grateful hug.

(Boston strong! Boston crazy! This has got to be one of the most chaotic cities in North America, and yet somehow we manage to be good to one another.)

Back on the road, best speed to Logan. We all try to soothe Mike’s by-now-very-frazzled nerves. After a few blocks his skin starts to pink up again and he loosens his panicked grip on the door handle. I make a well-received Jason Bourne car-chase reference. We start to make small talk. I ask everyone what he does: Mike’s in health care, Joe’s in construction, Rob does nonprofit work. I infer that they all live together.

Wait—how do you all know one another? Rob asks glancing at me in the rearview, realizing that this BFF of Joe and Mike should know what they do for a living (and perhaps also thinking, very reasonably, that no sensible, street-wise woman would get into an SUV with 3 men unless she knew them).

Never saw her before this morning! Joe says.

I’m completely random! I declare. All the more reason to be grateful to you all for giving me a ride!

We all laugh and congratulate ourselves on our serendipitous meeting.

Wouldn’t it be hilarious, Joe says, gesturing at me and Rob, if you two totally hit it off and got married one day?

Way ahead of you Joe, I think to myself, stealing a glance in Rob’s rearview mirror at the very appealing smile lines around his very appealing blue eyes.

Stranger things have happened, I say, as one does. I’ve certainly been on far worse first dates! (And thinking uncharacteristically fast now: surely Joe wouldn’t make that particular joke about someone about to be married. Rob must be single…C’mon Prof’s Progress—what would Jason Bourne do??) And—I continue—this is ideal—I’m meeting you doing this heroic rescue AND already seeing you at your roughest. Everyone snorts at the suggestion that this is Rob’s roughest. Contemplation of Rob’s just-rolled-out-of-bed scruffiness makes me momentarily light headed. All right, I revise—your roughest while still able to drive a car.

At which point we approach the terminal for Joe and Mike’s flight. In the flurry of thank you’s and nice to meet you’s as Joe and Mike gather their luggage, I am strategizing furiously. My terminal is just a short drive ahead. In my remaining seconds with what could be my Hollywood meet-cute and love of my life, I say, with (to me, astonishing) nonchalance—can I chip in for the tolls? Or: maybe I can buy you a drink to thank you when I’m back in town…? (say yes say yes say yes…)

I’ll take the drink, thanks, Rob says as he pulls up to the curb. He turns to look at me (still in the back seat), with what I hope is speculation mixed with approval. I make myself look him in the eyes half a second longer than I need to, willing some Jedi power to exert its influence. He readily gives me his business card, and a friendly smile. And more speculation…? But then—not having any plausible reason to stay in his back seat any longer, under those circumstances—I have to hop out and wave goodbye.

Now begins the plotting and mental composition—I should totally email him right?? I’m totally going to email him!! (insert hearts and sparkle emoji:  ✨💖💥). How long should I wait til I email him…?? What do I say? Where do we go?? These questions will be the subject of much texting with my girlfriends as we run through all possible scenarios, including that I might never actually see him again.**

But come on! In the way that we interpret all experiences now in terms of it being just like a movie—this was definitely rom-com material, which men hate to sit through, but which they mostly write and produce, suggesting hidden depths of sentiment in the masculine psyche. This little adventure has romance (the meet cute!) written all over it. More: to a romantically-inclined fellow (Jedi powers, don’t fail me…) this should seem like Destiny.

At one point in our race to the airport, Rob expressed impatience at his own sniffling, and asked if anyone had a kleenex—and because I also get impatient with sniffling and carry spare kleenex with the conscious hope that some day some sniffling person will ask for help—I said, I have one! And he thanked me. If that’s not Destiny, I don’t know what is.

 

*On the off chance that Rob and I do one day get married–or something–he will find this story, and its existence in the ether charming. If none of that happens, then I’ve changed all the names.

**Seriously, I’m inviting suggestions. How do I follow up with this guy…??

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