Grunts, Love, And Coffee

, , , , , , , , | Romantic | September 6, 2019

(It’s 1997. I’m 20 years old and have recently moved back to my home city after a horrible breakup. I take a job selling electronics at a local mall retailer. During my first week, I keep hearing about this one guy who’s going to handle the bulk of my training. It’s silly, but it’s like I’m hearing bells whenever someone says his name — I just have a feeling about him. I find myself hoping he’s around my age and that he has blue eyes. We’re finally scheduled together on Saturday. I eagerly wait by the register for him to come in. Eventually, an unkempt man who looks like he’s in his 40s walks in. He’s balding and badly dressed, and he is sporting a very wimpy mustache that does nothing for him. My heart sinks when I see his nametag and realize it is the guy I’ve been so looking forward to meeting. So much for romance; he is way too old for me! But hey, I’ve still got to work with this guy, and by all accounts, he is really nice.)

Me: *brightly* “Good morning!”

Guy: *wordless grunt*

(He walks past where I’m standing without even a glance in my direction and turns the TV in our department on to Saturday morning cartoons, ignoring me.)

Me: “…”

(A commercial break eventually comes on and he walks over to me. I’m thinking we’ll finally exchange pleasantries.)

Guy: *in a harsh voice, and without preamble* “Did you count out that register?!” 

Me: “I… didn’t know I was supposed to.”

Guy: “Well, it’s a good thing I closed last night, so I know exactly how much is in there.”  

Me: *stunned at his rude tone* “Um… okay. Do you want me to count it out now?” 

Guy: “No. I’m going for a cup of coffee.” 

(He about-faced and stalked off. A teeny part of me hoped that maybe he’d bring me back a cup, as a sort of apology for his jerky attitude. He did not, and stood around the department drinking it in front of me, glowering. Later that day, he made me laugh so hard that soda shot out of my nose. I realized then that even if my instincts were wrong and this wasn’t the man of my dreams, he was still a good candidate for a work friend. I eventually learned that he was only 26 years old, and the main reason for his haggard and disheveled appearance was that his father, a single parent, had died the year before, and every penny he made went to paying the mortgage on the family house while he also went to college full-time. He was smart, very funny, and kind, and we had a lot of interests in common. And his eyes were, in fact, an amazing shade of hazel that changed from blue to green to brown depending on the light and his mood. He grew back the goatee that he’d recently been told to shave off, which he preferred and which suited him much better than the wimpy mustache by itself, de-aging his appearance quite a bit. We became really good friends and then fell in love. We married five years later and are still blissfully happy. According to him, he’d had a feeling about me, as well, and was really looking forward to our meeting, but finally seeing me caused something to disconnect between his brain and his mouth, so all that fell out was rudeness. All these years later, he still makes a point of going out to buy me a cup of coffee on the anniversary of that day and serving it to me with a grunt.)

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