The other day I was walking up Sixth Avenue and talking to my cousin on the phone when I noticed a cute cafe right as I passed 11th Street. The sign caught my eye so I turned onto the block and walked toward it. As I approached, I noticed this guy sitting at the only table that fit in the cafe’s tiny little patio area out front. He seemed tall, had a distinctive face, a classic navy sweater on, and was handsome as all hell. My cousin kept talking to me but all I could think about was How am I gonna find a way to talk to this guy??
I literally walked up and down the block maybe 17 times or more until my cousin announced she had to go. When we hung up, I walked to the cafe with still no plan in mind as to how I was going to talk to this guy. I figured I’d at least check the place out, since it was cute and I’d want to eat there anyway.
He’d noticed me too the whole time I was on the phone – probably because I look like an insanely creepy person semi-stalking him as he just sat at that table with a lone bottle of red wine. I kept glancing his way, and he had noticed. Clearly. Since I was not being sneaky about it. At all. And the whole time, no one arrived to sit down with him, which I found odd. I was sure he must have been waiting for an equally attractive woman to show up and be super chic and thin and gentle and pretty in a way I know I’m not and never will be. But no one came. Once, a guy came out of the cafe and leaned against the gate as he had a cigarette and the two of them laughed. It hadn’t occurred to me that this guy could be gay, which was entirely possible, and here I was walking back and forth like an idiot checking him out while I half-listened to my cousin on the phone.
So anyway, when we finally hung up, I walked to the cafe. It was one of those establishments that’s on the ground floor of a building, but the ground floor dips down three or four steps so it really feels like a shallow basement almost. The guy was sitting at a table directly to the right of the few steps I had to walk down in order to enter the cafe. I didn’t look at him as I walked down, but I could feel him looking at me.
Inside, I found the guy that was smoking a cigarette earlier. “Buonasera, how can I help you? Just one?” Oh no no, I was just here to pick up a menu, I explained to him. I asked if they had a happy hour, and he looked at me the way all French and Italian restaurant-owners have looked at me when I ask that question: no, what do you think we are, TGIFridays? As if happy hour is so crass… I asked him for a business card anyway, and headed back toward the front entrance.
I pulled my skirt a bit to the right (hanging my purse over my left shoulder always twists it in a way I always have to fix) before I walked out the door and up the stairs past the guy. (I didn’t want to seem like I thought I was making such an impression on him from afar and then actually look like an idiot with my skirt all twisted up.)
I reached the top step and turned right to walk back toward Sixth Ave. without hesitation. To be humiliatingly honest: if he was still looking at me and wondering about me and what the hell I was doing, I wanted to ensure that it looked like I had an important phone call, had to stop by to ask a question and grab a card, and then continue on my very important way. Confidently. Not like I was pathetically hanging around hoping I’d have the guts to talk to him or ask him out or anything like that…
Every step I took away from him and toward the train had a tinge of regret. Or, not total regret, exactly, but more like, a sense of false security in the sound my heels made along the sidewalk that didn’t quite match up to how desperately fast my heart was racing inside my chest as I wondered to myself, why didn’t I just walk up to him? What’s the worst thing that could have happened?
What would I have even said, though?
You waiting for someone, or can I join you?
What would he have done?
New York City is full of beautiful, interesting people. But I’m surprised at how rarely I’m actually attracted to someone, which is why I was feeling regretful about not living out this silly little fantasy. But honestly, I never do… This wasn’t the first and only time an attractive man caught my eye… It happened a couple of times on the train too, and I didn’t do anything about it then either…
Of course, now every time I walk up Sixth Ave. and pass 11th Street, I wonder about him. Is he a regular? Sometimes I’m tempted to walk past the cafe often enough to try and see if he’s there a lot. And if he is, what would I do?