I’m in Waterstone’s when my heteradar goes off. Starboard bow, it says: engage peripheral vision. I do so, and, yes, ok, I can understand the fuss. If I have a type, the person standing next to me is it. She’s browsing the fiction section, perhaps also looking for a last minute Christmas present, and is somehow, you know, right.
So my mind goes to its default position in such situations, which is to draw comparisons with romantic comedies. They all have a moment like this. And what could be nicer than meeting in a bookshop on Christmas Eve? Something will happen, and one of us will make a witty remark, the other will laugh, and we’ll have a gentle conversation. Maybe we’re after the same book, or maybe one of us can recommend something we’ve enjoyed recently. It turns out we have similar tastes. Maybe I pluck up the courage to mention there’s a Starbucks next door – does she fancy escaping from the cold for a few minutes? It goes well, but she has to rush off. But, after a nervous moment, we swap email addresses. Tomorrow, we’ll send each other little merry christmas messages. Hers is great, and makes me laugh. I wonder what she’s doing for New Year’s.
This is the kind of Hollywood scene my subconscious thinks is going to happen someday. And, hey, you never know. You can’t just talk to someone in a shop, though. That would be weird. What’s needed is a scripted quirk of fate to break the conversational impasse.
Me: Bless you.
She: Stay away from me.