Writing group exercise. The prompt was “awkward first meetings.”
I know I’m fidgeting. I can’t stop messing with my skirt, which is the wrong way to blend in. I change from tugging at the seam of my pocket to shifting back and forth on my feet. The woman in front of me seems to be agonizing over some sort of life or death decision as she wavers between ordering a macchiato and a latte.
“Excuse me, are you in line?”
I turn to see a young man behind me. “Yes.” Yes, of course I’m in line, you idiot. Why else would I be standing here, desperately trying to bore a hole into the back of the woman in front of me with my eyes?
I don’t even want coffee. But that’s what people do at a coffee shop so that’s what I’m doing.
“Oh, my mistake. Do you come here often?”
Is that something people really say? Is he flirting with me? I shrug and turn to focus on her back again.
I know I don’t blend in. Growing up isolated in a very rural environment, different than the world around me. Well, there are some things even cosmetic surgery and therapy can’t change. But it was necessary for me to be able to be around people. I still haven’t gotten used to seeing my new self in the mirror.
The woman finally moves. I get my coffee as quickly as possible and turn away from the counter, but the man turns with me.
“I hope this isn’t awkward, but are you here for the meeting?” he asks.
Yes, this is awkward. I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t want to be your friend. I don’t want to be here at all.
“I am.” It’s a good opportunity to practice this sort of thing. I have had no practice with whatever this is. Is this flirting?
“Best news I’ve had all day,” he winked.
He just winked at me. Like all the terrible tv shows I’ve watched where people hook up in the most unlikely way. He must watch the same shows. “Aren’t you getting anything?”
“Nope,” he laughs. Gesturing to a table of five young women, he says, “I guess that’s the rest of the group.”
I head in that direction, and they must see the intention on my face because they wave me over with friendly gestures.
A woman with flowing gold hair and six necklaces of assorted material straightens in her chair and begins to speak in a voice of authority blended with a merry tone, “I call this meeting of the Fairy Investigation Society to order! We have a couple of things to discuss from our last meeting, before we go around the table to introduce our new participants…”
She continues on while the man leans over to me conspiratorially. “Do you actually believe in fairies?”
I manage a shrug. “Do you?”
He subtly shakes his head. “These kinds of things are a great way to pick up women.” He winks again.
I turn back to the table. I am not here to flirt with foolish men. I am here to find out what they know about us, and how to steer them away from the truth.