A life of precise mediocrity is actually pretty difficult to maintain. I comb my hair just so. A clean look but not too clean. I've never touched cologne, and wear a tie to work but it's certainly not a goofy tie. No, I wear solid brown and blue ties. I iron my shirts, but not too well, just enough. All of it is a delicate balance and sometimes I have to make sacrifices.
I had a mustache once and it. was. incredible. I was riding high on my stache until someone commented how impressive it was and it all came crashing down. It was a too unique. It set me apart from the crowd, put me on that dang pedestal. I got rid of it the next day. I mean, deep down, I always knew I could pull off a wicked mustache and I never should've tried it in the first place.
After graduating from high school I decided to skip college. Higher learning was for for people with ambition, which I had long ago shunned. I got a job in data entry at a nameless firm. It's a cubicle farm, perfect for blending in. It has white walls and gray desks and there are casual fridays. There are water coolers and people congregate around them for idle chit chat. People call that greasing the wheels or something, I'm not sure the expression people use when they want to brown nose to get ahead because I don't practice the art. I'm polite but not overly so, and I certainly won't mention how much I like your tie with Snoopy on it. Though it is adorable.
I had thought my office was perfect. Perfectly mundane for a perfectly average guy like myself. The only problem was Catherine.
She was walking up to me that day, casually flipping through a stack of documents in her hands. Catherine is the kind of girl that shouldn't be working with average schmoes like me. She's the kind of girl that gets slow motion scenes in movies while she flippantly flips her hair and smiles. The kind of firey red head that can hold her own. She'll flip out on you for a sexist remark or casually flip you off after you make a jest at her expense. The kind of girl that does backflips when……….annnnnnd I'm losing my train of thought.
She's flippin' hot is what I'm getting at here.
Her hotness is what scares me. And not in the "Oh, man I'm nervous around super hot girls" kind of scared. No, this is the deadly kind of scared. The kind that ends with David Caruso making a quip over my charred corpse and putting on sunglasses to the background ambiance of someone screaming 'YEAAAAAAAAAH'
Maybe something about my name kind of sounding like luge and how if I had been sliding down ice I might not have burst into flames. I don't know. I'm terrible at puns.
Here we have me, the average guy working a dead-end job and then you have her. The smoking hot woman with not a care in the world. Sound familiar? How about being the premise for every E-word romantic story ever.
It's like it was doomed to happen. I had done my best to avoid contact because fate is a cruel mistress and I just couldn't let things evolve between us. But here she was, walking right towards me. I thought about ducking under my desk but we had already made eye contact. That might just look weird. No this conversation was happening, I would just have to do my best to keep things average.
"Hey, Mike, is it?" She said with a bright, pouty smile.
"Yep. Mike. That's my name, don't wear it out." I said loudly. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that was too loud, I might've shouted that.
'No you fool!' My brain cried. 'Stop laying on the charm! This is serious.'
"Okay, right, so I tried to get the collator to work and it seems like it's broken. But then someone said you are the only one that can get it to work." She said.
"It can definitely be tricky." I said careful to get the tone of my voice more mundane. "But lucky for you, you have The Collator."
There was a long silence before she hesitantly continued. "I don-I don't know why-I mean, why are your hands are on your hips? I just told you the collator doesn't work for me. I can't use it."
"Oh, no, not that collator silly. Me. I'm The Collator, that's like my superhero name cause my superpower is to collate…but, I guess you're right. It's confusing. Maybe I should be The Collator Man or something." I said cautiously trying to restore the conversation to something between two coworkers. The heat of temptation was rising to atomic levels and the sexual tension could be cut with a knife. In under a minute I had reduced her to stuttering and telling me that despite her best efforts she couldn't "use" me. There was also the seductive way she mentioned my hands and hips and I knew I couldn't let things continue this way.
"So you are the man for the job?" She kind of smiled. Someone else might call it a grimace, but that person wasn't there. It was definitely a 'kind of' smile.
'Alight Mike, time to nip this in the bud.' My brain declared.
"Oh yeah, definitely. But speaking of jobs…err…speaking of work, rather." I corrected myself as I realized she would probably think I was going to make some off color remark about Steve Jobs and his untimely demise. That would've made her putty in my hands for sure, and you can't be too careful. "I…I don't think it would work between us."
She stared at me for a long moment. Processing the weight of the words.
"Look. I just came over to see if you would help me with this. You seemed normal…so, please don't make this weird."
I nodded gravely. "Just leave those papers with me. I'll get them collated and back to you."
Hesitantly she set the papers down on the desk. I just knew that she was trying to think of some reason to stay. To keep the conversation going, but I had to disappoint her. For both our sakes.
"Okay, bye, Mike." She said and walked away.
After she had walked away I leaned back into my chair with a sigh of relief. That was a close call. I knew I could never be with a girl like Catherine. I needed someone like me. Someone that strove for normalcy.
I needed a Plain Jayne.
But what happened between us right then. That would be a memory. A little brand burned lightly onto our souls. What might have been.
Some might say I cheated them by calling this section a "Timeless" romance, but it would be timeless to us. In both ways.
It never happened, and consumed no time, but for the two of us. I'm sure we would forever remember how close we got to something solid. Tangible.
That could've been the end of it. That should've been it. I would've given Catherine her collated reports and went back to my life and my monotony…
If not for the ninjas.