Paul pulls out a chair for her, and smiles diffidently. Then does something that neither he or Karla is expecting. Impulsively, he picks up her hand and puts his own over it.
“I thought you must be.”, she says, looking at his hat.
(Here is a real original, he thinks)
“What can I get you, Karla? I’m all coffeed out, but we can have lunch”.
She orders, then sits primly, with fingers entwined in front of her. Her eyes move quickly up and down, then she turns her head to the side with a little embarrassed smile.
All at once, he is charmed. She has said only five words, but, in a flash, he has taken in his first impression: Shy, but playful. An unconscious batting of the eyelashes, like Betty Boop or Mae West or one of those. He thought that kind of thing had went the way of the Dodo. The glued cockeyed glasses. The unwillingness to smile openly (wonder why?) The baggy socks pulled on over her nylons, but not enough to cover the run in them.
She sees him as a guy who’s going a little grey (he’s taken off his hat). Someone with a quirky sense of humor, maybe? (The note is still sticking out of it). Someone who has had a great sadness settle upon them. What has touched her the most is the sudden gesture he made, taking her hand like that.
He tries for the humor once again, saying “You know, I am not used to having strange women just walk up to my table and sit down.”
“And I’m not used to having someone pick up my hand like that.”
“Did I offend you? The devil made me do it.”
“Well, no. It’s like something out of the movies.”
“Hah! Funny you should say that. Just now, I was thinking the same thing about you.”
“Okay. Now I know you’re buttering me up. The last thing I look like is a movie star.”
“Now, this may sound weird. Smile for me a second, Karla.” (She does, but just a grin)
“No, Smile the way you felt when I picked up your hand.” There we go. He sees the funny crooked tooth, a little bit off color from the others. She looks down at the table.
“That’s it! I know! You’re somewhere between Carol Burnett and Mae West.”
“You better not be making fun, ’cause I don’t know either one of them. I told you, I only get two channels.”
“Both charming women. Don’t worry about that.”
“I was waiting for you to say something about my clothes, and then I thought you had better not. You came to a date wearing work boots!……sorry, Paul, it’s just funny, that’s all.”
“So, I have two things to tell you. First, madam, I came in jeans and workboots because they called me in for a couple hours this morning and I had no time to change. The sports jacket was an afterthought.”
(Karla has a sheepish look, thinking she has offended him)
“Secondly, I see in you someone who has maybe disrupted her own life just to come and see someone like me, and I am touched by that.”
“Yes, well. You cost me three hundred bucks so far”
“Oh Geez, never mind. It looks like we’re both glad we came out, eh?”
“I am, Karla. (he leans over to her). “Come with me, and I’ll show you my etchings”.
“Never mind. It’s something from the movies, I think.”