Apartment Guy

By Jeanne Marie Laskas
Sunday, December 9, 2007

Guy who was coming into the building as I was leaving the other day: I think you're cute. Want to get coffee or a drink with me? Write back.

You can make googly eyes at a handsome stranger for only so long before you have to finally take action. This, anyway, was Sarah's reasoning, and was why she taped the note to the wall just inside the door of her apartment building. All the neighbors would see it, of course. But only he, the stranger she had come to refer to in her mind as "Apartment Guy," would understand what it meant and who sent it. Or so she hoped.

Apartment Guy was tall and had curly hair and a quick smile. He reminded her of a younger, sexier Tom Hanks. For weeks, she had been passing him in the lobby or on the stairs. He would smile; she would smile, freeze and scram. Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! It was all so silly and urgent and essential, in the way of love.

One day, they spoke. He was coming in from a run, just as she was taking her dog out for a walk. She said, "Did you have a good workout?" He said, "Decent." He smiled. She felt lightning bolts. And then he was gone.

She couldn't stand it anymore. She thought of luck, and how it sometimes needs a boost. She was still young enough to believe in magic and old enough to think: You only live once.

So she wrote the note and taped it up in the lobby and ran upstairs and locked herself in her apartment and cringed and tried to hold on to her courage. She was glad she didn't identify herself. If she had said: "short, long reddish hair, walks a noble Saint Bernard every morning," everyone in the building would know she wrote the note and would think her pathetic and lonely and desperate. She was none of these things. She was just a girl with a crush on a boy.

Two days later, she found a note underneath hers, penned in small, polite handwriting.

Need more info. Tall, short? Long hair, short hair? Anything stand out?

She assumed: (a) It was him. And (b) he was asking her to describe himself, so as to be sure he was The One. She thought that was adorable. She thought of telling him that everything about him stood out, his ruddy cheeks, his square shoulders, his chiseled jaw. She wrote back.

I once asked you if you had a good workout. Also, I make googly eyes at you. Sound familiar?

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