Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lurch

Hearing that Osama Bin Laden was found in Pakistan got my mind stirred about something in my past...

How about a humorous post today?

After my divorce in 1998, I moved back home with my parents and took my old job at the coffee shop in the mall. It was as though the marriage and painful divorce had never happened... except I had a full kitchen's worth of stuff packed in boxes and stored in my parents' little storage room, and a date that wouldn't mean anything to me in years to come engraved on the same darn cake slicer my parents had used the day they got married. If anyone reading knows how to un-engrave something, please let me know.

At the coffee shop, we had a host of regulars, some of which worked in different stores in the mall. For the most part the regulars were friendly and chatty, and over time through small talk, you became almost like friends. I knew what most of them were there for when I saw them walking in, whether it be something to drink right then or beans to carry home and grind. We had this one regular that we nicknamed Lurch, as in the really odd butler from the Adams Family from way back in the day. He was tall, and he would simply walk up to the counter and say, "Hot tea." No please, no thank you, no words at all (or smile, either) other than hot tea. He wasn't really rude, but I wouldn't exactly call him friendly either.

After a couple of months of the daily routine, my manager advised me that Lurch (man, I wish I could remember his real name) had a crush on me. I was floored that anyone could speak so very little to someone and harbor any positive feelings towards them. It wasn't like elementary school days when you could tell who liked you by who pulled your pigtails. In this case, I guess the less he talked to me the more feelings he had. Who knew? I immediately laughed it off. I found out that he was from Pakistan, which didn't mean all that much back then during pre-9/11 days. I understood that we didn't share the same views on God, and that Lurch would most certainly consider me an infidel if he looked at my life without his hot tea glasses on... I was divorced, visited bars regularly, drank alcohol, and generally spoke my mind. Not exactly what a good Muslim would want in a wife.

Things were just humorous until he started buying me gifts. He found me sitting alone in the food court one day sometime around Christmas ingesting a 99 cent soft taco from Taco Bell and drinking a real Dr. Pepper, and he simply plopped a wrapped box on the table. "For you," he said, and I watched him walk away. I waited until I was in the safety of my little coffee shop to open it. A bottle of perfume. I didn't know what to do, and my manager advised me to keep it. Why not? A free bottle of perfume, and it's not like he ever spoke more than four syllables at a time to me, so I found it hard to believe that Lurch had any expectations.

On Valentine's Day, just a couple months after the food court drop-off, I walked up to open the store that Sunday morning to find a beautiful bouquet of red roses. I was dating someone at the time, a young man who actually spoke real words and strung them together in sentences, and we had met for breakfast at the IHOP that morning before I headed to work, so I was surprised to find the flowers waiting for me there. When I saw the signature on the card, I just knew I couldn't keep them. I had the girl working with me that day march them down to him, and I scribbled on the card that I could not accept them. He sent them back with her asking me to please keep them, and I sent them back again. By this point, it was beginning to feel uncomfortable. He had tried to call me a couple of times on the phone, but he was no better conversationalist on the phone than he was in person. Maybe the difference in native tongues, maybe just a challenge in his personality. I didn't know, and I didn't care. I wanted no part in Lurch, and I was tired of playing nice. He needn't take my kindness behind the counter as I passed him his hot tea as my dying affecting for him. In America, it's called customer service.

The last gift I received from Lurch was shortly after I married Scott. Our little coffee shop closed, but apparently my manager kept in touch with a lot of the people from the mall. She showed up one day at my new place of employment bearing perfume and that ginormous make-up kit Estee Lauder offers around Christmas time. I stood on the sidewalk of the downtown street not knowing what to say. She told me she'd take care of it and explain to him that I had gotten married, and surely he could respect that.

I thought about Lurch today. I wonder if he found happiness with an American woman, or if he returned home. I wonder if he found someone else to shower with gifts but not speak to. I wonder if he ever learned the art of conversation or developed a taste for coffee instead of tea. I guess I will never know.

One night, a couple of years after Scott and I were married, we saw Lurch at, of all places, a bar. He stared at me with his lurchy eyes. He didn't speak (no surprise there). I didn't speak to him either, nor did I crack a smile in his general direction. Scott assured me he wouldn't let me out of his sight that night. And that, my friends, is the rest of the story...

1 comment:

Erika said...

Hooooottttt Teeeaaaaaaa