The dance floor is as wide as an ocean. She sits alone, on the distant shore. Her boyfriend likely talks football with classmates. Team captain, he is. Now is my chance to ask her to dance. What if she says no? All my friend’s eyes are glued on me. Jane is Homecoming Queen. Why would she dance with me?
Music pauses. A tide of boys flows toward the girl’s side of the gym. I dive into the stream and swim to the other shore. “Hi Jane, would you like to dance?”
Hours seem to pass before she says, “Richard, you’re a nice guy. I’d like to dance with you, but Bobbie just asked me to go steady.” The distance between me and my chair widens as I return alone, through a sea of dancers while Danny And The Juniors sing, “At the hop, hop, hop – hop.”
The barista smiles each time I stop for coffee. I don’t know her name. My silence is a wall between us. She breaches the barrier, “Will that be dark roast, Sumatra to go?”
“Yup,” I reply. “How nice of you to remember.”
She hands me my coffee. “You’re easy to remember. You seem to be a man of importance.”
“Not really,” I say. “But, I’m pleased that you think so.”
“You’re always smartly dressed,” she continues. “Quite GQ. Most of my customers show up like they just rolled out of bed.”
“Indeed.” I reply, as I gaze at the early risers. “I’m Richard, what’s your name?”
“Liz - pleased to meet you, Richard.”
“See you next time, Liz.”
“Sure enough,” she says.
Later that week I stop for coffee. The sign on the door says, “Closed - out of business.”
I often second-guess myself. Why did I do this? Should I do that? When I ruminate about past events or worry about the future I fail to appreciate my role the present moment. When I pay attention to what happens in the now, I come to understand that everything occurs for a reason. Since I can’t change the past or future, today I plan to be present. I will stake my place in the present moment and take action in the here and now.
At the restaurant I talk to the owner about an argument we had yesterday. "Negatory," she says. “There’s no need to apologize.”
"Negatory Big Ben," I reply. Mary flashes a vacant look. I repeat, "Negatory Big Ben, like in the movie Convoy when Kris Kristofferson urges his trucker buddies to block traffic to protest high gas prices. ‘We’ll get in trouble with the law,’ his friends retort. ‘Negatory Big Ben,’ Kris replies. ‘We already have.’”
I search for Convoy on my iPhone. We watch the movie clip, laugh about yesterday, and dance in the moment.
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Richard Wilberg, MS, PLCC, ACC
Life Coach for Personal Fulfillment and Career Success
About the Author
I write personal essays, creative non-fiction, flash fiction, and self-development articles from my home in Madison, Wisconsin.