The Spirit of Full Disclosure
At her best, she was talented and insightful and at her worst, she was a beautiful mess. As she walked down the street, no matter the current assessment, she was always covered in bags, a look of pre-occupation and a sense that she was supposed to be somewhere else. Carmen is and was a frantic but lovable pile of vectors; all shooting in different directions with no specific purpose of intent. When rare circumstances found her on an actual date, she felt trapped by both social convention and usually some comically small booth or table while she trying to maintain the illusion of confidence as the gin was being consumed. She rarely drank for any reason but inane conversation and social convention were not her favorite worlds, colliding or not, so she usually did the minimum amount of chit chat before formulating her plan of escape. The most searing remembrance of Carmen was not her first impression but rather walking away surrounded by a crucible of handbags draped across all available appendages as she made tracks with a false sense of purpose matched by only by her ridiculous shoe choice. As stated, a beautiful mess but in her defense, she was rarely boring.
While she said she was lonely, the truth was she was lonely at times when circumstances caused her to be physically alone with no audience or ability to interact with others. She tried the online villages but her unstable patience was quickly exhausted by the poor spellers, grammar idiots and the vacuous conversations that sooner or later found their way to a request to describe some part of her anatomy. She was not a prude but the banality of the same stupid patter of virtual arousal and manufactured adrenaline which left everyone empty allowed her to walk away from that alternative with no regrets. Carmen also felt that she was not asking for much; she wanted acquaintances that understood the right balance of interaction and collaboration but not to the point that people felt compelled to over-communicate due to lack of better things to do. She may have been a beautiful mess but that was no excuse to waste her time.
On the way to her boxing class which she hating talking about, Carmen got stuck behind a queue of people that appeared to be lining up for something; orderly but meandering and enough movement to imply something was happening somewhere. As she went right, the line would ease to the right and block her desired path with the dirty wall of some dirty building. If she feinted to the left, the line seemed to block her passage and give her the unattractive option of literally walking through traffic to pass the obstruction. As time when on, the crowd collected and compressed as Carmen, all five feet of her, struggled to find out why this amateurish phalanx of pedestrians was cluelessly attempted to stop her from her destination until she realized it was blocking all pedestrians, thus making her crusade almost generic.
This is where Carmen had enough and said aloud, "Wait a minute. This inconvenience was not created purely for my annoyance; this was created for everyone's annoyance."
The man standing directly in front of her nose at the approximately distance of 4 centimeters from her nose smiled at her and said, "That is the smartest thing I have heard in weeks" and then turned around. Eventually Carmen found a small crevasse to shimmy through to hopefully the other side of this pinch point. That comment, while insightful and accurate, was directed towards her inner dialogue not towards the man who was innocently standing in the way of her observational narrative.
Carmen was suddenly fascinated with this man that she knew she would likely not see again; she liked imagining relationships and allowed these hypothetical interactions to take on both a life and death of their own. Initially, she would see someone and imagine their courtship and a few weeks later, after novelty and curiosity was exhausted, she then felt bad when she had to hypnotically end it. The person would strangely show the same emotion when she sent them packing; oblivious to the heartache that likely loomed large, but undetectable, above their hearts. However, this man appeared different thought Carmen but just as she began imagining their awkward second date, the queue was breached and the flow of jammed-up pedestrians oozed forward at an acceptable pace. By the time she remembered that she forgot about the fantasy, she was at work and as such, engaged and slightly regretted not grabbing the man by the arm and demanding him to ask her out of a drink. As the day went on, her piles of paperwork and reports moved from one side of her desk to another and things seem to just move ahead with an unremarkable pace until it was time to go home.
Carmen was a medical doctor but not one that you see on television; straddling a gurney while barking out a litany of orders as the cacophony of an emergency room washed over her healing wisdom as she punched a heart attack patient's chest at one hundred beats per minute while looking stunning with flying hair and piercing eyes. She was primarily a researcher; either hustling for grant money or eye-deep in painstaking research trying to figure out some challenging and, by her definition, some deathly boring hypothesis dealing with membranes and protein levels. She wanted to be loved by patients and revered by her colleagues but while she had demonstrated reasonable bedside manner and a non-threatening collaborative work style, she was best left to her own devices by solving puzzles of a variety of human applications. The days were challenging and while there was a lack of triumph over cloaked diseases, no one could argue that the hours were better and she saved a lot of money on dry cleaning. She was a doctor but if she came upon a tragic accident, she could not assure herself that she was jump into the fray and start saving lives because she was never that good at it anyway and she had always viewed the Hippocratic Oath as more of a working guideline.
Her days were always officially busy because she liked overbooking appointments and making sure her schedule was impressively dense if and when someone would stumble upon her personal calendar on her phone. She enjoyed the idea of being surrounded by non-important obligations which she could jettison at a moment's notice and disappear into the morass of social interactions and pop up on the other side without a hair out of place. By littering her social horizon with a lot of potential obstacles, she allowed herself a lot of opportunities to dodge, dip and further dodge around undesired interactions while enjoying the pursuit of anyone motivated enough to chase her though a jungle to commitments yet to be determined as worthwhile. Her first reaction, when faced with an unknown social obligation, was to throw open whatever available and compelling calendar visual at her disposal and allow that to let the inquiry be trampled with her obligatory "I wish I could but look (attend, address, etc.) at this but I simply am not able to attend."
That falsehood was very effective for many years until her audiences grew wary; but until he came along, she had no idea how brutal a valid unengaged reaction could feel. Just like a comedian who trots out their most polished material and experiences an epic booming failure, Carmen experienced a similar fate when she had just drew her initial breath to start her time-tested litany of reasons why she was unable to do whatever task or obligation which was ready to appear when the this man, looking identical to the man on the street, nodded before she could begin and disappeared. Walking out on her act was not how these things were supposed to go and the potential trend got her attention.
"What the hell..." said Carmen.
She usually did keep the volume up on her internal dialogue as her cuteness and nimble nature was found to be enhance her personality. She usually talked quite a lot when she walked but only recently decided to cut back on the rolling dialogue after witnessing an elderly hobo sitting near a street corner doing roughly the same act except for the style of her clothes. This is when she would have liked a true friend; someone who she could confess a fear about becoming a street person or wandering the street with a bottle of cheap gin and clothes weeks out of date. The whole scene disturbed her to the point of muzzling her ongoing soliloquies as she walked but she was not sure it was worth the effort to slow down and commit to a legitimate friendship in order for some momentary piece of mind. While the thought was historically a prosaic one, she also assumed that as one's life continued to evolve, tastes changed as well. It may be due to circumstance or due to general timing, but she did sense a change coming and this time, did not wish to fight something that she could not see or choke to death from the start.
Luckily for everyone, the weather was cooperating and people seemed chuffed with the current mix of temperature and sky conditions. It was a day where it was warm in the sun and cool in the shade and several layers of anything seemed to fit the bill. Carmen was no clothes horse mainly due to the fact she looked good in anything. This was not bluster; her small frame and expressive eyes allowed anything, and I mean anything, to look nice. If she dressed down for whatever reason, her beauty shown through to deliver a cutesy-bohemian combination and if she glammed up, the striking look only magnified the total package of general class and attractiveness.
This fact was known only to her and as a valid superpower, had to be managed carefully. If she always appeared to make an effort, her female semi-friends would resent the beauty and she would be even more lonely so she make a point, when casual, to always appear slightly disorganized which placated the women but drew the men towards her due to the cutesy-bohemian factor as stated above. Regardless of her mental gyrations within, she knew she had to keep moving towards her destination or these random thoughts would cause her to pause and encourage a quick stop in a pub, a shoe store or both.
Her finances had just recently recovered from a similar situation; she had some discretionary time on her hands and unfortunately bumped into a person she had always found delightful but after five hours drinking vodka tonics and one hour shoe shopping, she had awoken viciously hung-over, well-shod and without any discretionary money for the rest of the month. She could not (and world not) find anyone to lend her money so she initiated yet another austerity program to compensate for her actions but never once, did she entertain returning any shoes as they all looked fabulous and sometimes, that trumps logic and any boring lecture on living within one's means. If it meant homemade peanut butter sandwiches and the occasional jam buttie, so be it.
The problem with good looking people, as Carmen and each reader of this story knows, is that we are not well liked but Carmen was an enthusiastic and engaging sort; after a few minutes of chatting, her personality and general communication style would consistently win people over so she was never without friends and rarely experienced an enemy. Her style was without agenda; her charm was not a means to an end but just a natural outgrowth of her approach to life in general. As a reluctant doctor, she got through medical school like most but she never lost much sleep or faced a career crisis; she was a natural diagnostician and took to science instinctively so while the curriculum was a grind, it was not all encompassing of a quest. Once out of school, she headed directly for research and grant harvesting because the hours were good and there was no heavy lifting.
The casual observer may assume that Carmen was selfish but in reality, she was a combination of pragmatism and efficiency. She always had an ability to see critical paths and with the exception of weakness for drunk shopping, Carmen was only guilty of being naturally beautiful and a quick study. All in all, her life was good but in the spirit of full disclosure, a real boyfriend with marriage potential would have been nice to have but time is time, and that opportunity would present itself sooner or later. As free time appeared, her thoughts about the man in the street continued to re-visit her consciousness; she would enjoy seeing him again and began to create a series of moxie-fueled comments to have at the ready in case their paths crossed again. While she was confident in her overall demeanor, the time to have a snappy and charming opening line was not when the meet cute would happen but well before to allow the edges to be smoothed over and the delivery well-timed. Fortune always favored the bold but it reward the one who was fully prepared.
It is fascinating what you see when you are not looking for anything in particular.
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