I was helping out at the shop a few weeks ago, not at all obsessively rearranging the incense in alphabetical order and dusting the crystals when a man approached the counter. Not an unusual occurrence in itself, admittedly, nor particularly was the conversation that followed.
“Hello,” I replied, assuming what I hoped was a pleasant smile of welcome, rather than the grimace of abstracted concentration that I was wearing only moments earlier.
“You’re Not Liz,” the man stated.
“No, I’m not,” I agreed equably. (That’s my name when I’m at the shop… NotLiz…)
“Oh. Where is she?” the man asked, with a faintly pained air.
I generally have two answers to this oft-asked question, a) “Not here” and b) “I don’t know,” both of which are true, and pretty accurate. I decided on b) on this occasion and offered it as kindly as I could to the man, as he seemed both disconcerted and a little upset to see me.
I regarded him – a smallish man, long grey hair in dreadlocks, assorted crystals and pendants hung around his neck.
He looked back at me, still pretty much unimpressed by what he saw looking back at him, a middle-aged woman, duster in hand, face probably smeared liberally with incense dust… He bent to rummage in his back pack and produced a handful of … sticks.
“I wanted to show Liz these,” he said.
“Ah.” I said. “What nice, um, sticks.”
He looked directly at me then and replied, a little indignantly:
“They’re not sticks, they’re wands! From the Glastonbury Thorn!”
“That’s nice,” I said appeasingly, “what are you going to do with them?”
The man looked at me as if I had taken leave of my senses and said:
“I’m going to make things on them!”
“Of course you are,” I said, reassuringly, not wanting to offend him, or sound doubting of his artistic capabilities.
“No, look!” he said, and reaching into his hair, pulled out a – dragon and passed it to me to hold. Not a real one, obviously, but one made of clay, beautifully detailed and very true to life – as I would imagine dragons to be.
“That’s beautiful!” I exclaimed, impressed, and handed it back to him.
He tucked it away safely in his hair and bestowed a faint smile upon me.
“Goodbye,” I said, and the man walked away.
Now. I have mentioned Mr.Handsome before, the very nice man I first encountered on the bus with my mother. Well, the other evening, I was walking back up the hill from my mother’s with Alex, and I was trying to describe an acquaintance to Alex, waving my arms excitedly (I actually hit someone the other day) and talking about “Pete’s Dragon”, the film, of course, when who should I behold, striding manfully towards us, accompanied by two little dogs, but Mr.Handsome… just as gorgeous as I remembered, white t-shirt, blue jeans, tall, dark haired – well, you get the idea.
I looked up fleetingly – he gave me a brief, polite smile- and I looked down again, cursing my shyness. Alex beamed happily at him and I thought, “My word, he is handsome!” and decided my best course of action was to style it out, talking meaningfully about dragons and waving my arms. Like a nutter.
And then he passed us. Alex looked at me and asked: “Was that him?”
I said: “Yes…”
Then Alex replied: “Hmm…white t-shirt, blue jeans, well groomed… he was looking at me!”