So, I am in between jobs, unemployed and have too much time on my hands. I have been hanging in this coffee shop at SMS, the Mall for far too many hours. Almost like a daily ritual, a retreat place for contemplating whether I should go the gym and have my workout; the gym is conveniently locating itself a few door down from the café, such a nuisance, or for continuing my cooling down period from the torturous workout from the gym over tall white – no sugar, in a large mug, one after another, contemplating something else which happen to cross my mind other than exercises, thanks goodness. I always have a book with me to read, sometimes with my laptop, accessing the free Wi-Fi, checking my emails, chatting and of course, my Facebook. When I’m with my laptop, I pretend that I am a famous writer tolling along with my latest novel, typing away while the world passes me by, hush now, I’m creating another master piece. When I get bored, I text, Noval the PT, tell him that I’m at the café (again) and whether he would like to come and join me for a cuppa. He understands me quite well now, just of course, he does pray to dear Gods, that I would be the only client that he has who is so damn lazy to exercise, what a black hole for the continuity of his monthly income. He even says that out loud to me once, “Hopefully, you are the only one with this habit,” while patting my shoulder repetitively, follows by, “Amen, Amen, Amen.”
I become a regular customer, just missing a membership card to this place. Lately, I even try to address the waiters with their names, which conveniently written in big letters on their nametags, pin strategically on their uniforms. I introduce myself once, to one of them. However, I guess, they can’t be bothered to remember my name. To them, I might just be one of those crazy women who are very fond of coffee with no sugar. Nevertheless, they always greet me with a big smile, “Hello again, the usual?” with an equally big smile, I would always reply, “Yes, thanks.”
Today, I probably make myself the newest entry into the wall of fame and gossip amongst the staff. Have I mention that I am between jobs, unemployed and have too much time on my hands? See, a few days ago, as usual, I was hanging at the mall. During one of my “normal” strides heading to the cafe, normal in my term – Ma always thinks that I walk too fast and in a panic mode – I almost stop walking but didn’t, staring at this lone guy sitting at one of the tables of the café, he returned my stare and throw me a smile. I just looked at him and his smile but I know that my expression was a grim one. I didn’t feel any facial muscle pull forming something resembling a smile or a grin; I just kept on walking and by passed him on a way to nestle myself yet to the big red sofa, happy in finding it unoccupied.
Then the odd thing happened, I was restless, which I never experienced before while enjoying myself in this café. Over that lone stranger sitting at the table in front, why? Just because he was cute, bule (Caucasian) and he smiled at me? I didn’t do anything though, just tried to concentrate reading my book and glance at his back once in a while. Nevertheless, hold on, the saga continues. I went home and somehow couldn’t get the guy image out of my head, not intensively hanging in my head, he was, of course, just a passing thought which come and go ever so often. Guess what I did the following day, that’s right, I hang out at the café again and this time, yes, correct, waiting for that guy to show up.
I don’t know what is it, me and waiting, somehow, lately, all that I do is wait. Wait for a queue at the checkout counter at the supermarket, at the cinema ticket counter, wait for a turn for haircut, wait for a queue to ease at the ATM, wait for someone to finally dump me, wait for people to reply to my emails ‘begging’ them for work, wait for anything else which seem mundane and now wait for a perfect stranger, just because, he gave me a smile. I went home when the clock struck 9.50pm. Don’t want to be stranded here at the mall like the last time; I was in one of my writing frenzies, yes, you guess it, at the same café, listening to the live acoustic band as the inspirational background music. When I look up from my laptop, the waiters have started stacking the chairs around me, the band has sung its finale and the members were then sitting at the table near the stage talking amongst themselves and having their midnight snacks.
Time to go home, but when I reached the taxi stand, it was stranded. The security guard told me that all taxi normally leave the stand around 10pm or so. So, I was stranded at the almost empty mall. Camping at the mall? Didn’t sound like a very inviting idea. I called the taxi company twice and twice they told me to wait and they will try to dispatch one for me. I called for the third time, the battery left one tiny bar mark on my mobile, to panic or not to panic. “I would drive you home on my motorbike, if only I am not on duty,” the security guard told me. I thought, eh… I don’t think I would want you to drive me home, but then again, camping here or not camping here was the question. We started making small talks and he became more annoying with each minute of the conversation, then he started flirting, I could never stand people flirting with me much, something about it just make me cringe. In the middle of that critical moment, trying to decide whether I should just take the risk to walk home, which would be somewhat dangerous in this time of night, I saw, hallelujah, one adorable light blue taxi came to my rescue. Adorable, just because it saved the night for me. So now I know, my curfew would be 10pm. Unless, a friend or my sister with a car is my hanging out companion.
So, the lone cute bule stranger was nowhere to be seen. But alas, hold and behold, he is here now. As usual, I park myself at the red comfy sofa, nursing my tall white, the usual, no sugar, reading my book happily, when I look up, there he is, pulling himself a chair at a few table away in front of me. My heart start pounding, my face turn red, I yell to myself, inside my head of course, he is here! What next? In the effort to calm myself, I read 2 pages of the book that I am holding in my hand, this time, without being carry away to another time dimension of the story, of a woman’s quest in seeking for everything, I think, I am on a quest of my own now. So, think. What next, he is here! 2 pages and a half, I call one of the waiters and ask him for a pen. Hold your breath this is what I write down on the napkin, ask Kiki, the waiter, to pass on to the stranger, pointing at him, tell Kiki, “Could you please give this to that friend of mine over there, yes that bule,” pointing at him handing the note to Kiki.
Would you like to have coffee with me? I’m paying. No, I’m not nuts.
Signed: The girl at the sofa.
Ps. If you say yes, could you please act like you know me, when you walk over here? (and draw a funny face as a closing remark, me on the napkin, not the stranger of course).
I watch Kiki passing on the napkin to him; watch him reading what is written on the napkin while he walks over to the guy. Watch the guy reading the napkin, I can only see the back of his head, but I am sure, he is on total bewilderment. I am in my own bewilderment too. This is a very odd, the strangest thing, a borderline lunatic act that I have ever done, ever, in my entire life.
Then, he turns around to look at me, flashes his smile to me, this time resembling a big grin, I hold up my coffee mug in cheer to him, flashes my own grin back at him.
You want to know what happen next? Hold on; let me tell you something else instead. This is I, after losing 7kgs of my fat. This is I, who now looks good in hot-pant and my T-shirt size has downsized from L to S. This is I, who is now getting use to carry a lady handbag instead of a backpack. Me, who is now getting use to carry a lipstick tube and a compact powder complete with little mirror in my lady handbag. Me, who is recently discovered the magic of pedicure and manicure. Sarah Boone, who is nowadays, can look at her reflection and tell herself quietly, saying,” You don’t look bad at all, missy. Quite presentable, I must say.” Yippie! My hairdo with its wavy natural look perm looks great too.
The napkin! Yes, the napkin finds its way back to my hands, Kiki hands it over to me with a twinkle eyes and a kind of smile that I can’t decode in an instance. On the flip side of the note that I write on a few minutes ago, here is what the cute bule stranger engraved his reply in Indonesian: “Maaf, sedang tunggu istri. Terima kasih ya!” – Sorry, waiting for the wife. Thank you eh!
I feel like laughing my head off. Between my embarrassment and indifference, I just sit there continue to read my book, in “earnest” sipping my coffee like nothing ever happen. Few minutes later, I find myself easing back in my original slumber, supported by the cushions all around me, folding my legs up on the sofa, kick off my comfortable yet chic platform sandals, light up a cig and inhale. Then, in between the story that my book serenades, a thought passes through my head, “Oh MY GOD! The waiters might think that I’m a hooker!”