Aaron Steinmetz

...be very still...the bird's angry...and I think he can see us.

What's Her Name

All I remember about her is her face, and even then just that it was pretty.  And possibly blonde.  I was there with my buddy and he was in a fairly bad mood.  I’d given him a ride to the locked and gated parking lot where the tow truck driver had deposited my buddy’s car.  The whole drive, all the way there, all I heard from him were four-letter words book-ending long-winded diatribes questioning the legality of towing people’s vehicles and scathing dissertations on why tow-truck drivers dare live.  Mid “sonnuva” he did think to thank me for giving him a ride.

I had feigned agreement during the drive over, but all sympathetic pretense went out the window when I saw her.  She had a disarming smile and enthralling eyes.  Since my buddy wasn’t in any mood to flirt with her as he signed the release of the whatever form that gave him back his car I made sure to crack a few jokes on his behalf.  He didn’t appreciate it, but she made the unfortunate mistake of laughing at my jokes.  I fell in love immediately.

Yeah.  Definitely a blonde.

Or a brunette.

But I wasn’t about to go for her name or phone number right then and there.  I wouldn’t hear the end of it from my buddy if I did: how I chatted up a woman when he was getting his car back from the people who had stolen it, legal though it may have been.  And though he had a ride of his own at that point, we’d already agreed to hang out the rest of the night.  So it was farewell for now, but I’d be back the next day.

After an evening of drinking and rehashing all the reasons tow-truck drivers are hell-spawn spewed from the mouth of Satan himself, I turned in.  The next day I woke, cleaned myself up, dressed in my figurative-ladykiller attire and headed toward the parking lot.  And I didn’t have the slightest idea how I was gonna do it.

I mean, you can’t just walk up to a woman.  Please.  I walk up to a woman and tell her I’m interested in her: what’s she gonna do?  Slap me.  Beat me with her phone.  Lift her desk over her head and crush me with it.  Possibly all three.  No, it’s not physically possible for a man to simply tell a woman he’s interested in he’s interested in her.  I think it’s actually a crime in some countries.

As I drove away from home toward the main road I decided I needed a plan.  And it would involve my cell phone.  She’d certainly remember me from the day before; she had to.  I have a pretty face.  I’d tell her I lost my cell phone.  And this was the last place I remember having it.

Simple plan.  Happens to people all the time.  And if this plan worked, I’d stand at the altar and watch her walk down the aisle with her father on her arm.  If it didn’t, she’d turn green, grow three times as large and throw me through a wall.  A very real possibility.

See, I know what you’re thinking: how are you going to find the phone when you haven’t lost it?  What if it rings in your pocket as you’re looking for it?  That’s the brilliance of the plan.  It won’t be in my pocket.  It won’t even be in the office with me.  It’ll be in the car.  With the ringer off, just in case.  And the phone ringing: well, that’s all a part of the plan.

After a few minutes of searching–I chatting her up flawlessly the whole time, perhaps learning some clever detail about her–she’ll think to call the number.  Of course she will: it’s the obvious solution.  She’ll pull out her cell phone, dial my number, and when we don’t hear it ring I’ll assume it’s somewhere else.

In my car.  With her phone number in the missed calls list.


Devious?  Maybe, but I’m not exactly a telemarketer here.  I’d wait an appropriate length of time, call her back and tell her I found it, oh, anywhere, and oh by the way, how did that whatever you told me about go?  That clever detail?  Is it all better?  Do, tell me more...

And I’m in.  First date set and match.  Point Aaron!

By the time I reached the freeway I was deciding between Mexico and Hawaii for our honeymoon.

By the time I reached the exit to leave the freeway, I was wondering where she’d bury my body.  You know, after she finds out I tricked her into that first date.  I’d be in pieces, perhaps a half a dozen bits of me strategically buried all over Reno.  What was I thinking!?  All these stupid games, this manipulative stratagem, why couldn’t I just walk in and tell her she’d caught my eye and I’d love to have lunch with her?  Who set the rules?  I’m a reasonably attractive guy with malleable hair and a stellar, commercially sellable voice.  Forget the cell phone nonsense, forget the strategy.  Set aside the games and ploys and toying with expectations.  I’d walk in, tell her what’s on my mind and let the chips fall where they may.

And she’d begin crying, wishing for years some chubby blond guy would just cut through the noise and be honest for once.  Or she’d show me a ring on her finger, clenched into a fist pressed firmly into my nose.

Long as we landed somewhere in between I would be happy.  And maybe she’d go for me, maybe not.  Can’t really do much else when you think about it.

During this story I’ve given several possibilities, scenarios and conclusions to this would-be love story.  Sometimes the chubby guy gets the marketable young girl with curiously large eyes.  Sometimes the disheartened woman denied a weekend out by fellows too scared to ask her on a date gets the overweight thirty-something who infrequently gets the nerve to tell a woman how he feels.  Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

And sometimes it isn’t.  I pulled my car into the parking lot near the locked and gated parking lot outside the office, got out of my car.  I pulled on the front door.  Locked.  They were closed.  This discreet location where tow-truck drivers deposit questionably legally-obtained vehicles was bereft of any woman who had caught my eye.  No hours of operation, no phone number to call.  Never saw her again.

Maybe she was a redhead.