Short for Seven Foot, Tall for Seven-years-old

My blue vest and I were verbally violated.

This is how it happened:
A co-worker and I were standing at the end of a row. We were minding our own business, adjusting shoes that are slanted, sitting on shingle tablets edging outward towards some sort of center until a customer came out of nowhere, startling us.

This man standing in front of us was a bit taller than what the word tall usually implies, and was with his daughter that was no more than 7-years-old.
He had small irises so the whites of his eyes were sharp, filing the etchings of his facial features to a dominating look. She wore a pink jacket and blue jeans, and white sneakers on her feet that had a purple trim contouring the foot sole.
The man’s head was dreaded and he wore a beanie hat hanging off of the top of his crown, covering and exaggerating a few of his hairs.
“Excuse me, I need some help” he said, asking in a Jamaican dialect I had to listen attentively to to understand.
My co-worker stepped in front of me suggesting that he was going to be the source of help as he felt that this man, and his request, were both duplicitous sounding.
The customer said selectively with aggression, with a hint of power rupturing from his throat: “No, I don’t want you. I want her” pointing to me he said.
Any slight bone of confidence I had in my spine succumbed to the customers want – I was wearing my blue vest after all.

My co-worker – in effort to protect me foreseeing that I may need it – trailed behind following my lead as we had the man and his daughter sandwiched between the blue of our vests.

An Oriental man, who I failed to take note on the appearance of past that, was sitting quietly on a bench in passing until he blurted out at my friend, “Yo mother fucker.”
My friend stopped, I mean quite naturally, unable to follow any longer shocked into this momentary stillness, leaving me with the tall, accented customer.

“What are you looking for exactly?” I asked, trying to get an idea of what wants I may have to meet.
“You know, I’m looking for something sexy. Like sexy boots that you women wear. Something with a heel for sure” the man described, looking me up and down thinking thoughts I couldn’t quite hear.

Feeling the bitterness of his speech, comments of my own built to the tips of my fingers, stopping at my black, coffee coloured painted nails as I held them pressed tight, discretely digging into my palms.
“Do you know what size shoe she wears?” I asked the father.
“I don’t know, man. Could be 13, could be 14, maybe 3.”
“You mean 13, 1, 2 or 3” I thought to myself.
“Right” I said turning to the man’s daughter, “do you know what size shoe you are?”
“Like a 14 maybe” she replied just like her father.
But she was young and perhaps her 13 were tight which made it hard for me to judge her for just knowing which number numerically follows.

I presented to the man, physically looking up to him, a wall of boots for girls as I tried to search for something that could look moderately sexy, as he wished.

“Naw, naw. I don’t want any of these. I want something with a heel, like you women wear.”
I brought them to the women’s section one aisle over against my morally right will, despite hearing it screaming inside of me not to.
“She’s seven!!” it spoke to me, “Seven!” it repeated.

The father, walking up and down the row touching the boots feeling their different textures of synthetic leather’s and suede’s, turned around with a pointy, heeled boot, one with pleats and other ugly things on it, saying to me affirmatively, “These. I like these.”
Reaching my hand out towards the rack, I unhooked a size 5, faced the seven-year-old and helped her put the shoes on, all the while keeping my mouth shut.
She tried to stand up with her legs that seemed to have turned into baby stilts all of a sudden.
She wobbled and reached for her father’s hand that was tucked away into his pocket as he stood back, observing she and I.
The 5 was too tight for her, the heels were too high, and the look of discomfort that grew over the child’s face almost dimmed the store lights (or at least the perspective in which I was viewing the father in).

The 7-year-old still needed something sexy though.

I walked around the corner picking out suede, wedged boots that were shorter cut to the ankle as well as to the floor.
These looked less promiscuous in my opinion, camouflaging the fathers aim for the seven-year-old sexy look.

His daughter tried the shoes on by herself, standing up on her own and walking; this time without terror.

I backed away from them suggesting that I felt finished.
The man, however, greatly disagreed when he stopped me by saying, “I’m buying these because I think you’re pretty, okay. So you should smile.”

Because you cannot talk to me like that, and let’s face it – what he said was not at all flattering. In fact, it was so stupid that he even thought that that could have remotely been the right thing to say, I forced my vision up to him directing my voice steadily to his beard that was closer to me than his ears were with my carefully selected words: “That’s not a reason to buy something.”
“But I’m buying it because I like you. Smile” he instructed me in a tone that was supposed to imply my unsettling feeling into surreal gratitude.
I turned my back to him, walking across the department, off to do something else.
Just when I reached the men’s section, the man hollered at me, combining it with a snap that I heard as instantly as you would feel your foot stepping down on cold shards of glass.

I felt enraged.
I curled my fingers in, squishing them into my palms again as I carried myself back to him.
No really, I could have flung a men’s boot at him, aiming at his head sticking high above anyone else’s.
In front of me, “I need you” he said.
I stared up through my bangs.
Like continue please.
And, like clockwork, with the same disdainful look on his face, “You know those sexy things you ladies wear?”
In between his speech that was building up, coming next, I thought, “No. I don’t know those things.”
“Like those sexy things you wear on your legs. You’re wearing them now.”

Plucking the material framing my legs, “Oh. Nylons you mean!?” I leered at him, speaking in an excited tone, one of course embellished with sarcasm.

“Yea those. She ‘gon need some” he said, telling me the obvious as I didn’t assume a man of his benighted personality would at all need a pair of nylons.
“Nylons for her would be in with the children’s clothes” I point-fully spoke.

In front of a rack of nylons I asked the girl’s father, “Do you know how much she weighs?”
“Yo” he began with, “how am I supposed to know?”
“Is she between 50 and…- ”
Before I could finish saying another word or think of something else sarcastic to reply, the man had physically picked up his daughter by underneath her armpits, and held her in the air for a moment.
“No, please stop. Is this really happening…” pushed itself to the front of my brain.

“You heavy gurl” he told her, forgetting I’m guessing, to report any pound-value back to me.
Perfect I thought.

“Do you know how much you weigh if you don’t mind me asking?” I directed my tone nicely to the 7-year-old, trying my best to respect her and her woman-feet.
“Maybe between 50-70, or like 70-100?”
She shook her head no, frightened by my inquisition.
Making an executive decision I handed her father the medium-sized nylons, “Here, I’m not really sure what to give you but she looks like the average 7-year-old.”
“I love you” he exclaimed as though his coffee filter was just really not working inside of him anymore.
“I mean, I mean I like you” he corrected himself, although you and I both realize that neither of those comments were at all okay.
“Right” I said.
“Smile baby” he told me.
My discomfort overwhelmed me. Like can I please just take off this blue vest now!?
I walked away, cutting off our interactions after I took one last look at this grand thing of a seven year-old and her small father towering over her.


Butt the Turtles Even Knew

I felt the rain drizzle and fall capriciously over the city – over my head – as I walked home underneath it for 30 minutes. The sun had already began to peak, I’m sure, on some other part of the world, showing it’s backside to me.
Displeasure haunted my skin through the lining of my jacket as my clothes dampened and got touched by a cool brisk of wind coming off of the passing traffic every now and then.
The bangs curtaining my forehead slowly clumped themselves together taking the image of an old window with few, unattractive, see-through blinds as decor.
I could feel the light brown of my hair darkening and thickening while I walked farther from the metro and closer to home.
I knew at that point, that the sewer rat morphosis of my visage was happening out in public for the street to see and its entire people, and that there was nothing, not even a huge, drying gust of wind that could turn back the transformation my body had already started undergoing.

Trinitaires. St. grew long under each of my footsteps.
I was listening to music but that did not stop these two boys, of maybe only 8-years-old, from talking to me.
I saw their mouths moving from a short distance under the sepia glow of a dingy street light, but thought nothing of it.

Getting a bit closer to them they walked in my path, stopping right in front of me.
“Time! Time! What time is it?” I hear the one to my left say in a pitch that instantaneously confirmed their ages.
“You want to know the time?”
“Ya, ya, ya!” the boy on the right said, hungry for my answer.
“Its 4:52 p.m.” I said, “Almost five o’clock” I added, correcting myself as they stepped away from me.
I was unsure of if I as an 8-year-old even knew what 4:52 p.m. meant in real-time.

Turning as they went to walk away their knapsacks faced me protruding from their backs; they looked like two tiny, ninja turtles.
If I were someone else, I mean, I would have totally snatched them up.
But I didn’t.
Don’t worry.
Instead, I yelled nervously, suspiciously and motherly at them, “Are you sure you two are okay?”
“Ya, ya, ya!” they both shouted, laughing — their schoolbag’s jiggling on their backs behind them as they scurried off, late for something.

I walked 20 more parked cars worth of Trinitaires before I came across a man – offsetting speeding drivers – trying to park his Cadillac.
I stood on the sidewalk and showed him with my hands, whatever I thought 2 feet looked like.

He put up his hand up, his palm facing me in maybe a thank-you gesture, or it could have just been a get-away-from-my-car-woman sign too.

Just before reaching De La Vérendrye, I swiftly felt unbelievably violated when a drop of water had slid off the corner of my satchel, lightly splashing the higher part of the back of my thigh.

Turns out, I had just virtually walked the entire straight, endless, redundant length of a street during rush-hour with my cute skirt nicely tucked up underneath my bag, showing my butt and its entirety to the world.

Perhaps that’s why those little turtles ran from me – even they knew it wasn’t the time for that!

Clairevoyance? No. Just John.

At 10:30 a.m. while stacking the boxes of the new Linda shipment of winter boots in numeric order, starting from the smallest size to the largest and using my noodle arms, I picked up 6 boxes  – weighing in at 3 pounds each – to place over my head on the shelf when something I didn’t intend on happening went down.
In a moment of soggy weakness, I couldn’t quite hold the boxes anymore, and in a molasses measurement of time; feeling weak inside, they rained down over me, making their bonk and tock sounds as they dripped off of the roundest parts of my head and onto the floor.
My passive side let the boxes do what they wanted to me; it seemed too early on a Saturday to really care.

A friend of mine – a good one – who always catches me in these very charming and dexterous moments, saw the storm from afar and came to save me.
He stood me up, “Now stand here. Please” he said, placing me to the left of the mess.
“No, no. It’s my mess, let me clean it up.”
“Non, non, toi tu reste là.”
Fixing the boxes above us properly, and with much more grace than I had done, he turned to me and used the large part of his palm to cover the crown of my head while he spoke: “You okay? I saw all of that. It looked like it hurt…”
Under the stores blinding lights, the dark brown of his eyes softened.

Around afternoon-feeding time, I witnessed a woman shamelessly show one of her breasts to all of the shoes surrounding us as she began feeding her baby – it noshed back.
“Oh, I’m so sorry I’m showing!” she said, watching me pick up a pair of slippers.
“It’s o.k.” I told her, although really, I knew she wasn’t sorry and that truthfully, it wasn’t o.k. with me.
I mean, not that her preference in the way she wanted to nourish her baby made me uncomfortable…it was more about how comfortable she was with wanting everyone to watch her that really concerned me.
Like get a towel, a napkin even; wear a baby’s bib. I don’t care.
Taking out your chest every time someone else is hungry – no matter where you are – well, it just seems like a little much, even if it is during the hours of the afternoon.

Toward what felt like the end of a regular, shoppers shoe-fetish rush, focusing my attention to my feet revealed a splat of my most hated condiment: ketchup.
It was all over the floor.
Though smeared and grimy, it still managed to retain that pungent, perturbing smell – the kind that’ll give you chills with just a tiny whiff.

Reluctantly, after getting down to ground level to wipe up the red mess, a man calmly and politely (which strangely made me nervous) approached me.

“Hey there” he said contentedly.
Straightening the curvature of my legs, unbending my knees, I stood up until our eyes were at level with each other.
“What can I do for you?”
The young man extends his arms, nearing my chest with a shoe box encompassing those fake, construction work boots the real worker inside all of us yearns for.
“I wanted these in a size 10 but in beige, but I only see them in black in the front. Do you think you could look for them for me? 9 was too small and 11 was too big, but 10 would be perfect,” he explained.
“Yeah, for sure” I said, leaving him with the boots because, quite sinfully, I know their model name without hesitating.
“Just give me a second, okay?”

I walked through and through the Mens aisles with my head tilted back; my eyes examining all of the light green boxes with John written in Arial font in the bottom, right-hand corner.

Returning back to the young Mr. I told him that we didn’t have any more 10’s in beige left – not because I was hiding them, of course – also that I was sorry about this, and that I could call another store if that would make this moment a bit less disappointing for him.

“Please, would you?”
“Will do, you’ll just have to give me a few minutes.”
Calling the closest store near us, I gave the boy on the other end – a boy who I usually talk to when I do these sort of things during my weekend shifts – the model information: “John; size 10; in beige please.”

I waited, listening to the static and employee-cash calls on the other end, twirling the telephone cord between my fingers.

“Yah. We have one pair left” the boy on the other end began to say.
“Cool, could you put them aside for…”
I stalled using a light “Um” sound while I searched in my brain for a name to put them aside under.
“Uhh…” I said, switching the stalling sound, looking to the boots in my hand.
“Put them aside for John. He’ll come by this afternoon I think.”
“Okay, done,” the guy said confirming.

In front of the man I began to tell him the verdict:“The other store has them; they’ve been put aside, though, I didn’t know your name, so I just said, “For John.”
The man’s eyes widened, looked intently to mine as he took a step away from me.
“How did you know my name? My name is Jonathan!!!?”

I dropped the hollow, green box I had in my hands, and it landed in between John and I just as I exclaimed, “Nooooooo!”, emphasizing  all of my (O’s).
“Yessssss,” he said, contradicting all of my (O’s) with his many (S’s).

“This is crazy” we agreed, coming to some sort of census.
“Anyway, they’re there at the other store for you – you just have to give your real name…”

When John walked away, I was left alone in the department with all of this adrenaline, this new-found clairvoyance of mine and this incredibly fresh story that I had no one to tell to.

Taking on the eager roll of a customer on the hunt for a killer low price, though really in great desire to blurt out my story, I immediately stood on the outskirts of the department – where the tiles differed from tan to white – waiting, watching and willing to grab the first blue vest I spotted.

STM: (a) Standard Tuesday (in) Montreal

“I’m on my way to the dentist, my appointment is at 1:15 p.m and then I have a class, okay?”
“Oh, I didn’t know you even had an appointment today. Are you sure it’s at 1:15 p.m? That’s strange” my mother asked with an almost practiced, harmonized sound of uncertainty in her voice.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s written on the paper she gave me” I said, trying to reassure her with my words of pure credence through the phone under the afternoon’s crisp sun, as I stood in Verdun waiting for the bus.

Fast forward traveling time —
Arriving at my appointment 10 minutes prior to, I sat myself in the waiting room on their plastic, yellow chairs and began my wait.

Browsing through my music, I listened to all of the rap I’ve ever downloaded because it just makes me feel so real, y’know?
At 1:46 p.m I had had enough of Jay-Z’s ‘Holy Grail’ and decided to check with the secretary if I actually even exist in their computer system at all.
“What’s your full name please?” she politely asked.
“Tamara Nazywalskyj” I quickly told her, then preparing myself to spell.
“Your appointment is for 3:15 p.m” she spoke as she read off of the screen in front of her, correcting me.
“You’re joking!” fell out of my mouth and onto the ledge I had been resting my arms on the whole time.
“There’s a library and many coffee shops around here if you want, I’m sure you’d rather not sit here until then.”
“Okay” I said accepting my own defeat, “Thank you.”
“Sorry” she said with the most sincerity a secretary could possibly possess.
I stepped outside of the dentist’s office and treated upset-self to a pumpkin spice beverage from the Starbucks around the corner. The taste of warm pumpkin-y things dripped down my throat as I walked along Côte Des Neiges. st, as I set out on my new hour-long adventure.

20 minutes later when I reached the bottom of the long strip, after I felt like I had watched enough people and cars pass me, I found the Plaza; the Côte Des Neiges Plaza.
I entered and saw an Ardene Depot on my left and thought, “What better way to spend this hour…”

I showered myself with tons of wool, knitted hats, sweaters and shirts – rudimentary, girls items for this years Fall and Winter seasons. Only spending 30.15$ on all this cool stuff, I spent 45 minutes inside finding it all.
When I started to walk back towards my appointment I figured it would be best to grab the 165, you know, to speed things up.

The STM man, as I boarded his bus smiled at my face with excitement, with so much joy – a little bit too much actually.
(I mean, it’s only Tuesday).
I blinked, acknowledging his enthusiasm and parked myself a few seats from the front.

Seven minutes passed and I needed to get off of the bus.

I stood up but waited a many seconds until another passenger pressed the square, plastic, red ‘Arête’ button because I don’t like to be the reason for stopping the bus. Standing beside the happy-go-lucky, STM man, I felt him looking through the reflection of his rear-view mirror before he said, “Hey toi là, quel âge avez-vous pour être si jolie?”

Despite having to remove an earphone to speak, I heard everything he just said clear enough, replying, “Je suis un bébé.”
He laughed which made his eyes squint while the bus was still in motion – “Dangerous”, I thought.
“Je vais avoir 18 ans in T-Minus like 2 days” I commented, stressing the severity and reality of the situation.
“On se voit bientôt ma belle” he shouted like a father in a school-yard would to his daughter’s backpack as she turns and runs away with the other kids.

I disembarked the autobus and scurried off along the cross walk to my rendezvous only thinking, “He better not count on it, but with my luck, I probably WILL see him again soon”…

Projectile Phone Number

His hair was of the curly sorts, quite curly actually.
It held an almond hue to it – like the dark, Tamari kind except without the salt I’m sure.

Thick, opaque frames kept the lenses of his spectacles in place over his eyes, hiding them, adding a sense of mystery to what maybe could be behind them.

He had a calm, green sweater that he wore over a white blouse that was lined with dark blue, vertical stripes – a pair of grey pants neutralized the outfit.

I looked up from my book and noticed him. I observed him cautiously as he chose something off of the menu at Second Cup with precision.

With a muffin and a mysterious drink contained inside of a medium-sized cup, the boy sat down at a four seater table, facing my book and I that were coiled up in the corner just near the door.

I could see his silhouette from the off angle of my eye; he was jotting things down inside of a red, leather-covered agenda.
It looked important, at least from where I was sitting.
So I watched while he wasn’t looking with curiosity as my intent.
I mean remember: his hair was curly – just like Orlando Bloom’s, right?

Consistently, he would glance up and I would bounce between staring back and reading my book.
Our exchange of stares though wasn’t The typical, he-smiles-I-smile-he-smiles-I-smile and then we return to our respective work. This was done straight-facedly.
Like “I’m looking at you and you know it. So deal” type thing.

This repeated for a while, perched in my corner.

When I remembered that I still had pretty much all of Norwegian Wood left to plow through before a tomorrow morning’s 8:30 class, I deliberately stationed my elbows on the table in front of me, propped my head up in between my hands and gave my attention back to Watanabe and Naoko, Haruki Murakami’s central characters.
Like my real life can wait I guess..

Hastily, a voice managed to travel through my earphones – despite them singing loud instrumental music of the classical and indie-cover sorts – from a seemingly homeless man wearing a navy blue, fleece, zip-up jacket and some light Wranglers for pants. He had a poorly molded cast keeping his right hand stiff. Robotic almost.

“‘Blahblahblahblah something’, there lady?” spilled out from his mouth.
“Pardon?” I said taking out one earphone only giving him half of my attention.
“‘Watcha reading there lady?”
Norwegian Wood” I said as shrewdly as possible as I held up the cover of my book and then returned to my reading.

“Oh, what is that about?” he inquired.
“Look, I really have to read this”, I said repellingly as I tapped the play button on the screen of my phone.
“I’ve seen you around here before, eh..?” I heard him, as he tried to project through the sounds beginning to re-fill my ears and my head again – interrupting them actually.
“Probably” I said aloud, although not being able to hear my own voice.

I continued to read; head held in between my hands.
I was tired.
My eyes were bobbing around the page like large ships leashed to a dock in the middle of the night summoned to going nowhere.

Suddenly, a paper that was catapulted from my left made contact with my face and then bounced into the spine of my book and then on to the floor.

Quickly and confusedly I looked up, half thinking, actually, that the man in fleece in front of me was just trying to start some little Mama-Drama with me because I didn’t seem to amuse him much.

Looking up, the boy who I was eye-dancing with before walked through the door and did not look at me, separating himself from the scene he created and left me in.
Instead, in his grey pants, he walked with purpose out onto the street.

“Oh man, they’re really throwing shit at us now!!!” the seemingly homeless man exclaimed to the world (or just to me).

Uncontrollably, I burst out laughing and I can’t stop at this point.

I lean forward and pick up the paper – not wanting Mr. Wanglingfleece to get to it first – that lays in between him and myself.
I’m curious about this paper and additionally, I’m also not interested in having a brawl with the very questionable man in front of me. Like pas du tout.

Inspecting the paper and the origami form it had – what assumingly seemed to be a dogs face – was drawn onto the front.
I unfolded the tiny piece of loose leaf with such delicacy, in effort not to ruin the art of it.
As I continued to laugh and investigate the paper, I couldn’t help but to take notice to the strange order of phone-number written down without the dashes in between the numerals.
No name either. Just numbers quite separate from each other.

Folding the paper back up, mocking the prior origami creases, I dropped it in the pocket of my bag.
To aid in swallowing what had just happened, I took a sip of my breakfast tea.

And to remove my head from what was playing out in front of me, I read another sentence from the novel in my lap as I understood the seriousness of having to finish all of this book for the next morning. But I just couldn’t.
I kept smiling, acting as if it was Norwegian Wood making me laugh.
Seems possible, right?
Except, it’s actually quite unlikely.
The homeless man knew though. Both that the book wasn’t funny and that the paper wasn’t for us.
Of course he did.

“If you don’t mind me asking there, what’s your name?” Mr. Wranglingfleece asked with the same loudly, intrusive tone that he used when probing about the literature I was reading.

“I mind” I replied with such curtness.
“What was that?”
“I said I mind, actually.”
“Oh, oh I’m so sorry. So sorry” he said nonchalantly.

“Whatever. It’s fine” I answered, picking up the strap of my bag and walking off.

He stared intently (or maybe it was with bewilderment, whatever it was made me grossly uncomfortable) at me and my gesture of moving.

On the freshly, cold leather-seat, I sat at second cup for 2hrs more while I watched the rain drizzle off of the slanted windows that occupied the ceiling over-head with a new mystery in my pocket.

How to Get the Girl (3)

I was running late Wednesday morning because I was having some trouble making certain decisions.
This quandary was pertaining to matching clothes.
You know when no mater what you put on you’re still like, “I hate this. I look like a troll. My butt looks too look at me, my sweater is too frumpy, my face – despite having showered and having make up on it already – still looks dirty and dull, my nail polish is chipped so I should probably take that off and it’s cold but hot out, except it’s mostly cold so I’ll wear nylons and just deal with the extraordinarily hot, flame throwing, ventilation system they have and fail to regulate inside of the metro system. ”
To speed things up, I stole the car from my parents, spent like at least 7 minutes looking for parking that agreed with the signs that regulate our city and walked past that Lévis-Sauvé Elementary school along V-dun avenue where I saw three 7 year olds being scolded by their teacher.
“On lancent pas des roches, Matthieu et Maxime! Aller lui dire que vous deux sont désolé.”

I managed to boil some eggs and eat those while I packed my laptop, an item of clothing I had to return and my school books for a 5 and a half hour break I usually have to brace myself just before enduring.

I took myself to Sherbrooke, ran my errand, brought myself to Second Cup and got ready, with their Butter Pecan coffee of the day, in effort to be 5 and some hours of productive.
I was sitting on one of those large, straight back sofa chairs with those tiny, circular tables placed in front of them as I thought to myself, “There’s absolutely no way my hugely, rectangular p.c is going to sit on that comfortably.”
Moving the espresso dish that was previously left where I sort of wanted to sit, I put it on the also-tiny-table closest to my left.

Plugging in my computer, it shared the outlet, with other coffee shop-sitters, that was laying recklessly out in the middle of the floor just beside me.
Taking a sip from the liquid Butter Pecan, I burnt the middle of my bottom and top lips because like usual, the lid deceived me and I’m too impatient to wait.
Despite the apparent discomfort that came over my mouth and I’m sure my face as well; I still liked what I eagerly had tried to taste.
I carefully peeled off the lid to logically let air lower the coffee’s short temper.

A man hovering near me turned in circles as I watched him search for a table to sit at.
The Second Cup was full. Very calmly I moved the dish that I had passed the buck on earlier back to my table letting the first link on the man’s search page become more available.

The man sat in front of me and said, “Thank you” lowered and nodded his head as he settled himself in.
“For sure” I replied.
As he unwrapped the wire for his laptop I could see inside his head a game plan, a map being created of how to get to the outlet on the other side of the table – the one just beside me.
I stuck out my hand, opening my salad-fingers to the world.
He mirrored my reach creating the most ideal E.T momment then handed me the plug, accepting my service.
“Thank you…again” he said with a smile.
I nodded my head in return and went back to what I was reading.
Five cafe minutes passed until the Arab looking man said in English, “What’s your name?”
“Tamara” I answered shortly.
“What was that?” he said as he stretched his ear closer to me.
“Tamara” I repeated more confidently, “My name is Tamara.”
(To protect this man’s identity let’s call him George)
“I’m George.”
“Pleasure”, I replied in a socially normative tone.

“Where are you from” he ask quizzically.
“Right here: Montreal.”
“You don’t look it. Where are your parents from?”
“My Father’s Ukrainian, my Mother’s side, somewhere along the line, is from England.”
“That makes more sense.”
“You look Arab” I added, navigating the subject away from me.
My effort was deflected.
“Actually, can I just say something?” he questioned me softly.
“You see – it’s not your fault – but I’m sorry can I explain why I don’t really like to be called Arab?”
“I’m listening” I said, giving him my ears this time.

“Well, I’m Lebanese and we’re not Arab. Saudi-Arabia colonized us and took over, that’s why most of the Mediterranean can be referred to as Arab, but to me it’s not really a good thing. In Lebanon we have sub-cultures and sub-races. People fall under different social classes and there are names for them; Arab being the lowest one. The government uses a census and on our I.D cards identifies us with these social classes. Ninety-five percent of the population is Arab, 4 percent is Armenian, and other ethnic backgrounds comprise the remaining 1 percent.
My families roots are in fact Wadi Rum. But I guess I do understand how most “Arabs” do look the same…-”

I added in,
“I mean mostly. North African’s and Middle Easterner’s have the same hair-line, with big large, brown eyes – usually circular.” (this man had these features)
“…It’s not your fault I guess. You live in the West and it just seems this way over here.”
He explained more going into greater historical depth referencing common stereotypes existing in our Western Society.
I nodded and smiled feeling sort of disappointed in myself that always generally refer to Middle Easterners as just being Arab.
Obviously I had been poorly informed somewhere along the line, and no one has corrected me regarding this before, like African, Arab, Asian, American Caucasian, Latino, Hispanic, etc…are these not all just broad generals open to narrow specifics?

“So what are you studying there, Tamara?” George asked lightening the mood.
“Oh at Concordia or McGill?”
“Neither. At a College just up the street. What about you?”
“I’m done and what do you want to be?”
“You’re done?” I repeated curiously, “And a writer.”
“Yeah, I’m done. But a writer! That’s wonderful. Writing what?”
“Like it’s September and you’ve already had enough?” I said jokingly questioning him, “A book. I’d love to write a book.”
“No, no haha, I’m done. I’m finished. I took Graphic Design in Lebanon and Business here . That’s a great dream” George said.
“That’s interesting, Graphic Design.”

The conversation continued for 40 minutes until I said, “I really have to read, I’m sorry.”
“Oh, that’s okay.”
I began to read poetry until he said, “What is it that you’re reading there?”
Explaining briefly I went back to my work half paying attention to the words in the book and half thinking about what we just talked about.
“How old are you?” he asked in a further question.
“How old do you think?” I said challenging him.
“Well, judging by how to said you’re in College I’d say 22.”
I laughed. That’s all I could produce. Because really it seems to always be this way, I’m twelve and everyone else is fifty. Man or woman. Always.
“No..? That’s not right?” he said as he indirectly asked me to clarify.
“Seventeen” I said in point form.
His face made the “Oh my word” look.
It shuttered. Resembling almost immediately that emoticon with the colon and the squiggly line.
“Are you sure” he asked diffusively.
“I’m mostly sure” I replied more confidently than I had when he had originally asked me for my name.
“Well how old do you think I am?” George asked, returning the defiance.
“Twenty-six, judging by the degrees you mentioned.”
His face didn’t say much for his age other than young. He had tight skin, light facial hair, deep-set brown eyes and that Arab/Rum distinguishable hairline that I think I can pin point anywhere on St. Catherine st on any Geographically Colonized, tinted skin man.
“Twenty-eight actually” he replied matching my straight answer.
I laughed because that’s why he was slightly repulsed by my meager seventeen.

I took an orange out of my bag and began to peel it, I smiled to myself as he watched as I had nothing more to say.
“When do you have to leave?”
“Soon” I replied. “I have a class soon.”
I placed the peel onto a piece of loose leaf I had ripped out of a notebook that was covering the keys on my laptop.
I detest the smell of Oranges on my hands which reminded me instantly of my father.
I usually get him to peel my Oranges and then I eat them with a fork because I don’t like the remaining scent that no putrid, movie theater soap smell in the entire world could ever mask.

After I ate my orange and made a face because the odor had risen up to my nose and so vividly, I said, “George would you watch my things for a second while I use the washroom? I mean, if you take them I’ll just have to tell everyone on the street I’m looking for a Rum.
He cachinnated, but quietly and softly. So really he just laughed normally as he grinned at me.
When I returned my rectangular laptop was still awkwardly placed on the table, the same way I had left it.

“Thank you” I said gratefully as I got my things together, unplugged my laptop and stood up fixing myself I said, “Pleasure to meet you George” as I put out my hand for him to shake.
“What a pleasure” he replied, “Hope I see you around!!” he added.
I put my ear phones into my ears as I pushed open the glass entrance door.

I left him sat there with only six letters of my first name while I left with his seven and that felt like enough (keeping in mind his name isn’t George and I can, in fact, count past ten).
As I walked back to school, I felt very satisfied.
Like I had really gained something from this George character.
Even if I haven’t really retained much knowledge of the history of the “Arab” term, I certain feel more respected at the end of that conversation than I have with any other stranger I’ve met in a coffee shop.

He didn’t ask for a phone number, a last name, a facebook, an e-mail; just Tamara. That’s all.
Respectful dialogue.
George and some almost anonymous, mid-week conversation to feed what could have felt like a forever-long 5 hour break.

Now this is how you get a girl. Get-a, get-a girl.

How to Get the Girl (2)

On Tuesday evening, the same day I spent on the terrace with the Lebanese man, I had work like I had truthfully told, at 6:00 p.m.
I rushed from school to my place of work where I found the department in an uproar with my manager, alone, squatting, picking up shoes.
Towards the end of my shift that I spent hustling around, I went into the back-store where I took the 15 minute break that applies to our National Employment Rights.
Just as I was instructed by the clock to return back to shoes, a male associate said, “Hey Tamara!”
“Hey there, what’s up?” I answered as I turned around to face him.
Without continuing a general dialogue, this man got down to specifics;
“Have you been eating a lot more? You look like you’ve gained some weight there” he told me, grinning like a little boy from ear to ear, aware of the heaviness of what he just said to the young woman in front of him.
I arched my eyebrows and stared point-fully through the pupils of my eyes as if there was a glass over them, distancing us.
“No. Not that I’ve noticed” I said with such force when it came to telling him about the observation I was making.
As I put my vest back on I walked away from him wondering truly how he thought that that was acceptable to say to a woman – whom he doesn’t really know – regardless of this being a possible likeable change that compliments his preference in a woman.

Needless to say, I felt self-conscious although knowing the truth to my own body.