Level 1-1

One interesting thing about the podiatrist’s office was a sign on the door that separated the waiting room with the patient rooms – it said “Absolutely NO cell phones beyond this point! Thank you for your cooperation.” As I was called back, I asked the nurse if there was a basket or something for me to put my phone in during the appointment, or what they did with them. She said not to worry about it, that I could bring it back and it was only for patients glued to their phones since they had been experiencing problems with people using their phones during the actual examination. Sounds extreme, but even passing through the lobby you could see literally everyone walking around or seated was on their phones, staring intently at their magnetic screen. “The power of the phone compels you!” I screeched, heading for the lobby exit. Not really, but that’s what my brain wanted.

I’d just received the news that my ankle, which I’d rolled a few months ago, would likely not heal for another 3-4 months and I was to cease all weight-bearing exercise, kickboxing, and basically everything I normally do to stay in shape. I’m one of those people that goes nuts if they can’t get a daily workout in, and I’m used to a strict strength training and cardio regimen. I was given permission to swim and do my workouts on the floor or in a chair, as long as I didn’t put weight on my ankle. I’ve never been enthusiastic about swimming. Chair and floor workouts didn’t sound very exciting, either. So I hung my head and left the doctor’s office.

Kansas gets crazy hot and humid and it’s been worse this year even before the official start of summer, so when I stepped outside I began to sweat almost instantly, and felt a little sickly. I knew the only way out of this depressing hell was through ice cream – and not just an itty bitty scoop, but a massive, sinful, glorious sundae. I hurried to the nearest custard stand. I’d taken the time to look decent since I had multiple doctors appointments and errands to run. By decent I mean grape-colored high-waisted shorts, a black tank top with a black mesh overlay, perfectly coiffed hair, and soft summer makeup. There were two male customers who had noticed, watching me and smiling as I walked up to the window to place my order. They appeared close to my age. One of them sat down on a concrete bench nearby with his treat. The other one had just finished paying. As he took his banana coconut concoction, he grinned at me, the grin of a man who knows he’s about to experience intense pleasure, and he went to sit with his friend.

The only other place to sit was another concrete bench next to theirs, so there I went, my weight supported on this rocky slab by my buttocks rather than my feet and my back nice and upright. I waited eagerly for the custard workers to finish my masterpiece.

Writer’s note: I was looking for a good synonym for “sit” but I wasn’t satisfied, though I find the definition of  the word “sit” amusing, only because it includes the word “buttocks.”

The two men chatted with one another in what sounded like Italian. They wore matching jumpsuits, like maintenance uniforms of some kind. One of them looked like a heavily-bearded suave lumberjack and the other had only a mustache. Outside of their uniforms I could picture both of them in tailored pants, expensive Italian shoes, and billowy white silk shirts. I decided I would call them Mario and Luigi. Mario seemed very happy to see me so I asked him if I could have a bite of his ice cream. He appeared confused, so I assured him I was only joking. He nodded and smiled appreciatively, clutching his ice cream fiercely. A minute later he turned to me and asked if I lived in the area. I said no, that I lived downtown, which isn’t really where I live but I usually play it safe with strangers. He turned back and began conversing with Luigi again.

I was called up to the window to receive my salted caramel brownie sundae and it was just as delicious as it looked – a tower of creamy vanilla custard with stacks of warm brownie chunks, all drizzled with a salty caramel sauce. All for me. Exquisite! Seated on the bench again, I was almost too occupied to notice the young men leaving, but they got up and headed to their vehicle, both glancing my way and smiling as they passed. Mario even gave me a friendly wave, which I returned. I’m sure my lips were caked with sticky caramel sauce and chocolate crumbles. I continued to eat unattractively and blissfully unaware. A moment later, Mario came jogging around the corner right over to my bench. He sat down, straddling the bench very close to me and grinning. In his thick accent he said, “I think you’re cute, you know, you think you could give me your number?” I thanked him for asking and said I was sorry, but I was dating someone. He looked disappointed and said, “Really, you sure?” I made a sad face and confirmed, apologizing again but saying I was flattered. He said, “Okay, yes, but I have to try, you know? Or you never know,” I said, “Yes! You’re absolutely right. I wish you a good day!” And then he was off with his friend.

I thought of the Italian men stereotype – Handsome, fashionable, passionate, romantic…  I sensed that Mario would have no problem easily asking the next woman out that showed up to get ice cream. He seemed confident and upfront. There would be plenty of other choices for him in the Mushroom Kingdom, but this princess with the fragile ankle did not need rescuing today. Game over, Mario.

Check out this loungey Super Mario Bros. cover!

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