The guy puts his long black ponytail into a bun, fixes it loosely with a rubber band. He is so cute, the kind of sweet, shy smile I loved when I was in my 20s. He works the counter of my gym, wears all black and folds white towels. We like each other, the guy and me, have got some chemistry, even though the years separate us into different lifetimes. I wonder sometimes if my girl would like him, his energy, his spirit, and imagine it when I am wandering by. She is 24 and just beginning to study to become a psyche nurse. He is almost done with nursing school. My smile is different than his. I am not so innocent.
We work out together, my girl and me, since she graduated Brown and came home to find what next she wanted to pursue. The guy works part-time at the gym until he passes the nursing exam and can get a full-time job. He wants to serve. So does my girl. Their ambition is similar. But she thinks the guy might be gay. He doesn't wink. He gazes softly with kind brown eyes, and he listens close and carefully. Got some substance, depth.
I test her theory, flirt with him a bit. He flirts back. It is totally cool, harmless. I tell my girl that he has got his boy and girl thing down, dress, talk, dynamic. Very evolved, can remain mysterious. You can like, but not like like, I told her. But maybe.
Months pass, and she is busy. He is busy too. He fails the nursing exam twice and talks about it a lot. We encourage him to try, try again. We pass in the gym, sweaty and tired. We always hug. He cut his disheveled hair short and that made me a bit sad. But my girl did not seem to care either way.
The day before yesterday that guy asks my girl out. They will spend the day together, having massages, eating Korean food, talking shop. He passed the nursing exam finally and works the p.m. shift at a jail where most of the inmates are drug addicts. I tell my girl how happy I am that she is going out with this guy. It thrills me, actually, sends me back to my youth. They have much in common. And while he is cute, he is also sweet, and romantic, and clever. Funny and fun, too. A bit more than long hair.
So I get a call at the gym, after I had finished up yoga, thankfully. His car battery died outside our house and she had to help him jump-start it so he could get to work. She drove her car right beside his so that the cables would stretch from one engine to the other. He motioned to her with his hand, closer, closer...too close, and her car scratched the door handle on the side of his black car.
My girl she was mortified. He seemed to care, Mama, she said, teary. I am sure he did not care that much, I told her. It was, after all, just a scratch, and she offered to pay to have it fixed. "No, he will never call me again," she said. She liked him. I said if he doesn't, he is not the guy I thought he was.
Let's watch "The Bachelorette" and forget about it, I suggested. It's our guilty pleasure, a part of our bond. She said she was traumatized and wanted a beer, some chocolate. We watched Hannah and Luke and I tried to calm her for a couple hours in mindless, contrived entertainment. He texted her from work. "In the dark," he said, "you can't even see it." She relaxed, let her head fall back into my arms.
Answer him, something cool, I said. "Well," she wrote, "if you can see in in the light, at least you will never forget me."
"That's true," he wrote back quickly. "Hahaha."
We watched a couple makeup videos, another part of our bond, and then both of us went off to bed.
The guy he sleeps some during the day, and will wake soon and head off to work. That is, if his car starts up. I like to think he will contact my girl, ask her out again. It was going really well, their time together, before the little scratch. Funny, I somehow knew it would. And when he asked her to come close, she did.