April 26, 2010

my Shake Shack girlfriend

I saw her standing in line at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. My friend Loui wanted cheese-fries and I needed a bottle of water. The line wasn’t long and I could hear The 88’s “All ‘Cause of You” out of the headphones of the guy in front of me. She was standing two people ahead of me and they were both short enough for me to see her. It could be the way she looked fixedly beyond the people walking by her or the tight black t-shirt she had on with the words “Frak It” in front (see: Battlestar Galactica), but I couldn’t help but ignore what Loui was saying. And as I watched her inching her way towards the front of the line, I naturally started to pick her apart.

I knew she wasn’t stuck-up because she dressed like the kind of person who would give the subway mariachi a buck or a bottle of water. She wore a pair of torn and faded jeans that looked brand new besides the grass-stains on the thighs. Standing in line, I imagined her sitting in the grass, getting her new ragged pants dirty because she came to the park on a whim and didn’t bring a blanket, but the weather was better today than it had been in a week and she didn’t want to miss out on the extra sunshine. I pictured her pulling a book out of her unpretentious imitation designer bag and gracefully dropping down onto the ground, light as a feather and pretty as she is now. Sitting there in the grass reading Mishima’s The Sound of Waves, her shoulder length dirty-blonde hair must have been blowing back and forth across her silver frame aviators, forcing her to tie it back. I wondered how she looked with her hair down…
A few minutes later I was at the window asking for an overpriced bottle of water from the Yaqara Valley of Viti Levu and she was sitting down, reading her book and waiting for her Shake Shack pager to buzz. I took a sip and walked over to her.
“That’s one of my top five favorite books,” I said, honestly. She smiled through her aviators and replied, “I like it a lot. I haven’t finished it yet. I’ve read it four times and I always stop around halfway.”
“Why is that?”
“It’s a simple but beautiful story… and I don’t want it to end.”
And with those words all I could think was “frak my life”. I was in love. I knew nothing and everything about her. I wanted to ask her if I could sit with her. We would have talked about the book, about Mishima, then maybe Neruda or even Elvis Costello. I would have said something about her shirt and by the evening would have been sitting on my couch watching BSG on DVD, just her, me and the T.V.
I would have cooked breakfast for her in the morning and while she ate it in my bed, I would have read to her the beautiful and simple ending to the story that she waited all this time to finish. And the sex would be brilliant.
I would take her out to the movies and we’d laugh at the people on screen and their pretend problems with pretend boyfriends and girlfriends who happen to be blue vampires living on a distant planet where they battle werewolves for a valuable natural resource; the love of a shaky-lipped teenage girl.
We’d drive around Manhattan, trying to find a cure for our music ADD, and then stop at a bar when we wouldn’t find it. We’d have Irish Car Bombs and play Finger Football with bar napkins. Then, when we’re drunk enough, we’d challenge a couple Russian guys to a game of darts and lose. But we’d have fun losing…
It would go on like this for a while, amazing, beautiful… and simple. But one day we’ll be sitting in a Chinese restaurant cracking open our fortune cookies and realizing that we’d become one of those sad-looking couples sitting across from you in a restaurant; that we had become bored and even worse… boring. I would resent her free-spirit and aversion to the words love and boyfriend. She would be frustrated with my old-fashion, chivalric machismo. The sex would become uninspired.

I really wanted to sit down next to her but something was holding me back. She was a fantasy. Every girl is a fantasy until you date them, then they become real people. She was beautiful as a fantasy, and I didn’t want her to become a real person. I didn’t want to be wrong about her.
I took another sip and looked into her aviators, “I think you should finish the book this time around.”
“Yeah? I’m afraid I’ll be sad when the story’s over,” she said with slight sadness.
I smiled and as I turned to walk back to Loui, I said “Me too...”

photo:http://www.flickr.com/photos/shuichi/ / CC BY 2.0


  1. This is beautiful.
    But I'd say truth being truly stranger than fiction, fantasy may actually become reality.

  2. So I can confidently say that this is a league apart from ALL the stuff I read on here. Period. So refreshing that someone can actually take a new-ish spin on a sort of love story and not keep it trite and extremely cliched for once.
    Good job. Wait scratch that. Very good job.

  3. d2, very true

    tin girl, thanks, i'm trying to keep my writing real, even if there are some cliches, though something can be said about cliches- they're enduring


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