Act 1: Introduction
On my way out to lunch the handsome fortyish man who always smiles at me on the elevator crosses my path and says, "Hi. I always see you on this floor. I just wanted to introduce myself, my name is Jason. What's yours?" He's charming and a little bit goofy, so sure of himself in his cowboy boots and hands buried casually in the pockets of his jeans. He seems sweet. Genuine. Like he's sensed my shyness and made it his business to coax me out of my shell.
I answer with just my name. "Nice to meet you," he says, "I should warn you I'm terrible with names. I'll remember everything about you except what to call you. Don't get mad." "I won't take it personally," I say, and grin more broadly than I mean to.
Act 2: Drama
A week later I'm late for the bus when I dash past Jason in the empty lobby. I smile politely and half-wave.
"Do you have any idea how much it brightens my day when I see you?" he calls as I sprint by. It should sound trite since we've only met once before, but for some reason it doesn't. In fact it's not the words but the sincerity in his voice that makes me stop in my tracks, pluck out one of my earbuds and cock my head in his direction.
He raises his right palm in mock defense. "I'm not coming on to on you," he says through a grin. "You just should know that you have an incredible spirit about you. It's really amazing; You shine. And you always make my day."
For a moment we're locked there staring at one another -- me stunned by his brazen, possibly (but not definitely) romantic gesture and him waiting to see whether I'll step toward him or break and run. Then elevator doors open and the clack of heels on marble breaks the daze, and without taking his eyes off me he puts his finger to his lips and whispers, "Shhhh."
My face flushes, probably light pink but it feels like crimson. This time I don't grin, I beam, and say "thank you" before I run out the door. I smile and blush and tug on my lower lip (I do that when I like someone; it's my tell) all the way home.
Act 3: Finale
The next day I'm running again, this time to the gym. Jason is walking into the stairwell just as I turn the corner. He holds the door for me. "Going to exercise?"
He asks which office on our floor is mine and what we do there, where I'm from, if I was caught in the rain today, do I have anything fun planned for the weekend... It's that verbal hopscotch we all play while we're scheming, building nerve or making our way to the point. His gaze doesn't break for a single second; It's unnerving and entrancing. I'd like to learn to hold eye contact that way.
He adjusts the stack of papers he's carrying and something catches the light. Plain gold band, left hand; It's hidden again in half a second but there's no mistaking what it was. At this time yesterday all the blood was rushing to my face; It's amazing how fast the tide can turn.
I've been through this test before and I won't fail it again. My last few syllables -- "...nice weekend" -- are still on their way out when I turn on my heel and bolt down the stairs.