WORDS Liesel Schmidt
“Is it weird that I left a card stuck in the door for the guy who lives in the apartment downstairs?” I asked, picking at a corner of the nail polish on my thumb. I was sitting on a stool at the local coffee bar, nursing my third cup of coffee in as many hours. My laptop was in front of me, sorely neglected as I stared blankly at the screen, completely lost in my own thoughts.
“A card? Like a business card or a Hallmark ‘When you care enough’ card?” Sam, the owner, asked, the raised eyebrow audible in her voice. I looked up and confirmed my suspicion. Eyebrow raised.
“Well, it was American Greetings, but…Yes, a card.” I shrugged. “We’ve never actually talked more than to say hi when we’re passing in the parking lot or whatever, but I know he lives alone, and I thought it would be nice to leave him a card. Just because. Don’t really know why, just kind of did it on a whim.” I paused, chewing my bottom lip in thought. “It’s weird, huh?”
Sam rolled her eyes and chuckled. “You’re weird. And I’m not gonna lie, it could come across as a little odd. But he could also think it was nice. Just stop thinking about it, okay? It’s not like you see him all the time, so you’re not going to have to avoid him if he does think it’s weird some random girl left him a card.”
I narrowed my eyes at her. “You’re no help.”
Sam’s grin widened. “We knew this. Don’t ask me for advice, or you’ll get naked truth balanced with a healthy dose of BS. But that’s what you love about me,” she said, putting the tips of her thumbs together and making a heart with her hands.
“Uh huh.” I shook my head. “Sometimes I wonder how you and I are friends.”
The older woman chuckled at my words. She’d been like a second mother to me since my teenage years, and she’d been on the listening end of much of the angst that came with them. Twenty years later, she was still listening.
“Easy. I supply you with copious amounts of coffee, and you provide me with an endless supply of reasons to be forever grateful that I am too old to date,” Sam quipped.
I protested with a dismissive wave of my head. “Anyway. I’m sure nothing will come of it. He’ll probably just toss it and not give it a second thought. And that’s if he even opens it. He may just throw it away without opening the envelope because he thinks it’s junk.” Even as I said the words, I realized I felt a twinge of something—disappointment, maybe.
“Nope. He’s going to read it,” Sam said decisively as she refilled the cup that wasn’t even empty yet. “What did it say, anyway?”
I chewed the inside of my cheek for a beat before answering. The more I thought about it, the more absurd the whole idea seemed. What had possessed me? “Um, it was just one of those generic cards that said something like, ‘Just a note to say hi’ on it.”
“Uh huh. That’s what the card said. What did you say?” Sam prompted.
“I said I hoped he was doing well because I hadn’t seen him in a while, and then signed it as his neighbor in 202…Also known as the yellow Beetle parked between his truck and his work van.” I shrugged. “Nothing earth shattering.”
“We’ll see.” Sam arched an eyebrow at me again. “You’d better tell me what happens.”
“If anything happens,” I corrected.
“Sure,” Sam replied, rolling her eyes. “If. But you know something will—and you knew that it would when you wrote that note. Spoiler alert, girl. You want something to happen.”
I thought a lot about what Sam had said over the next week. Did I want something to happen? From what I’d seen of him, Mr. Downstairs was nice looking. He also struck me as the quiet type, just from our few interactions. And those interactions had left me intrigued enough to do something I wouldn’t normally do…like leave a note for some guy I’d never really met in an effort to break the ice.
I felt at the same time a sense of anticipation as well as dread. What if he thought it was strange?
My apprehension was set at ease when finally, about a week and a half after I’d stuck the card in his door, I got into my car only to see a note tucked under my windshield wipers, protected from the elements by the Ziploc baggie encasing it.
Thank you for the note! I’ve been well—Just went out of town for a week and came home to find your card stuck in my door. It made me smile, so thank you for that. You never told me your name, though….
Mick 😉 555-9301
I couldn’t help the smile that crept across my face as I read the note. I’d been so worried that it would make things awkward if we ever ran into each other, but this…This was the best possible outcome. Not only was he receptive—he was responsive.
I dug my phone out of my purse and tapped the number in. I got your note, I typed. I’m glad the card made you smile. It’s nice to meet you, Mick. My name is Natalie.
The text whooshed off, and within a minute, I had a reply.
Hi, Natalie. It’s great to finally meet you. I’ve been wanting to since the first time we said hello in the parking lot and just wasn’t ever sure how to approach you.
My fingers flew over the keyboard. Am I that intimidating? I asked, feeling my smile widen.
Yes and no. You have a disarming smile that puts people at ease, but you’re beautiful. THAT is the intimidating thing.
My face flushed at the words as I read them. Me? Beautiful?
I think maybe you need your eyes examined, I tapped out in a rush.
Nope. My eyes are just fine, came the reply. Would you like to have dinner with me sometime?
Dinner? I hadn’t expected that. Maybe some innocuous chit-chat at the most. But this was like something out of a Nora Ephron script.
Dinner would be great, I replied.
The three little dots danced on the screen as he typed out a response.
How about Friday?
I felt my eyebrows shoot up involuntarily as I read the text. He wasn’t wasting any time.
Friday works for me. My pulse quickened as I typed. I couldn’t remember my last date. At least, not a good one.
See you Friday. I’ll pick you up at 7.
Seven o’clock on Friday came quickly, and when Mick knocked, I was nervously standing by the door, waiting. I may have opened the door too eagerly, but I was nervous.
So, it appeared, was he. Still, he smiled broadly at me when the door opened. He was freshly showered and shaven, and I could smell a hint of aftershave.
“Hello,” he said, still smiling. “I’m glad to see you. And meet you in person, finally.”
I returned the smile and felt myself blush. “Me, too.”
We left and drove down the road to a cute little restaurant I’d been wanting to try. After we ordered we settled in to get to know one another. As much as I’d been looking forward to this, I could feel myself steeling for a round of twenty questions.
“I have a confession to make,” Mick said. He leaned forward and motioned for me to do the same. “I hate dating,” he whispered, breaking out into a smile.
“Me, too,” I admitted. “It’s full of awkwardness and trying to figure out if you’re being yourself and if they’re being themselves…”
Mick nodded. “So, I’ll be me, and you be you. If nothing else, I have a feeling we’ll be awesome friends.”
“Deal,” I agreed. “With the exception of three things: If you hate chocolate, you can’t be trusted; if you don’t drink coffee, we will never see eye-to-eye; and if you’ve never seen The Princess Bride and can’t quote it ad nauseum, I can never admit to knowing you.”
Mick laughed and shook his head. “As you wish,” he said, eyes twinkling.