It's finally happened. The nerd has experienced a quasi-celebrity moment.
It went down yesterday when I decided to celebrate spring's reemergence from the lingering pall of winter with an unpalatable iced coffee and a delightfully delicious manuscript at my local Starbucks. Judging by the line that snaked it's way almost out the door the entire time I was there, most of the city's inhabitants seemed to have the same idea--minus the manuscript. That I found a table amid the bustle verged on miraculous. It was rather easy to slip into anonymity among the anonymous multitude.
I sat there, absorbed in my reading, coming up occassionally to rest my eyes on the faces floating around me. My table was next to a window overlooking a promenade that brimmed with people who could have become more placeable had I looked at them longer. I wasn't interested, however. I only had eyes for the manuscript and I hoped more than once that I wouldn't run into anyone I knew.
But then there was an "Excuse me," and I looked up to find a young man standing before me with a venti cup in hand. His smile appeared frozen and a little forced, as if he was still trying to decide whether or not this was a good idea. "Isn't your profile on (insert name of networking site here)? And you have a blog..."
I clutched onto the corners of the manuscript. I didn't want to be rude so I slapped on a smile. Okay, so my lips were more likely contorted into an anxious and horrified shape than an actual smile but it was the best I could offer Mr. Stranger Danger at that moment. He nervously prattled right along "...and you're from Libya..." at which point I found my voice, albeit for a moment, to correct him. "I was born in Libya," I said.
"Oh, right," he said, waving his venti cup. "I recognized you so I thought I'd say hello."
He stood still. His venti cup was still. He continued to smile too brightly. The seconds seemed to stretch into minutes, into hours. My mind drew a blank and, finally, the only words I could managed were:
"This is weird."
"Well," he said and I imagine he would've rubbed his hands together or slapped me on the back in order to defuse the situation if he could. "Have a good day."
I said bye. I accompanied the bye with a wave. I watched him scamper away.
Later, when I told my mother the story, she declared that I was stuck up. "What did you want me to do?" I asked her, "Ask him to sit in my lap because he's recognized me?"
"No," she replied, after a good laugh, "you should've just shrugged and smiled and said 'It's a small world, isn't it.' 'This is weird' was just rude, Sabila."
Oh well. At least I'd smiled.