Tilly took a seat in her favorite local coffeehouse. She decided to take a morning to herself with a nice book on her kindle. As she sat there sipping her coffee, something, or rather, someone caught her eye. Across the room from her was Fredrick, sitting alone, plugged into his phone. She used to work with him a few years back and she had a bit of a crush at the time but never did anything about it.
“Hmmm…..” she thought to herself, “Maybe I should do something about that now.”
She kept stealing glances his way, hoping maybe she’d catch his eye. When that didn’t work, she gave a subtle little wave. He didn’t seem to notice. “But, why isn’t he noticing?” She furrowed her brows a bit as she wondered this. She relaxed a bit as she had another thought, “Whatever it is he is listening to, he must really be into because he seems like he has tuned everything out or something.” She continued to sip her coffee and started to think. “It seems that if I want to reconnect, I’m going to have to try something different here.”
She got up and went to go get a couple of napkins as an excuse to get nearer to Frederick, hoping that he would get a good view of her and maybe say hello. She walked by, and gave him a big smile, but still, no reaction. “But why isn’t he noticing me, I’m not being subtle here. I guess I’m really going to have to up my game here. I don’t understand why he seems to be so… I don’t know… in another world. Maybe he is a having a bad day? There are all kinds of reasons someone could not notice me when I’m being super obvious here. Maybe he just is really hyper-focused on a podcast or something?” She decided that she was going to have to break that focus on his phone and change the focus to her. She took a deep breath and walked up to the table.
“Hey Frederick, long time no see! How are you?” Frederick startled a little bit, removed his earbuds and turned his head towards her.
“Hi, I’m sorry, I don’t recognize your voice, who are you?” he said.
“Recognize my voice? That is an odd way to say ‘I don’t remember you.’ Well, stranger things have been said, I suppose.” thought Tilly.
“I’m Tilly, we used to work together a few years back, I didn’t think I’d changed that much, but I guess it has been a while,” she said nervously.
“I better say what I want to say now before I lose my nerve.” she thought as she gathered the courage to ask Fredrick out for a little date.
“Frederick, I know it has been awhile, but I was wondering if you’d be interested in going with me to dinner or lunch, to you know, catch up.” she looked at him hopefully, but she couldn’t get a good read from his eyes like she normally could. She wondered “Why?”, but then she just figured it just might be her nerves.
Frederick took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment. He then opened his eyes and smiled and said: “Sure, I’d love to, but there is one thing you probably should know.”
Tilly’s mind wandered a million different directions. “Something I should know? Is he married? Engaged? Gay? Is he a vegan, raw food enthusiast, thus limiting a dinner date to eating veggies from his backyard?” Tilly nervously spat out, “Oh, sure, hey, no worries, I’m easy going, are you vegan?I know a great vegan place we can go to. If you’re married, I don’t want to cause any problems, so you know if your wife or husband wants to come along while we reconnect, hey no worries, or if ….”
Frederick stopped Tilly mid-sentence. He waved a stack of aluminum tubes strapped together. Tilly was perplexed. As her wheels were turning, Frederick explained, “I, well, have had a condition, that has, well, deteriorated since you last worked with me. I’ve always had issues, but I never made a big deal about it. So, yeah, I’m visually impaired, I have a small area of vision, but it isn’t terribly useful for most things. So for all practical purposes, I’m blind.”
Tilly was silent, but her thoughts were not. “Oh. Well, that is why none of my subtle tactics worked. Okay. Am I still interested? Yeah, yeah I am. Oh gosh, I am sitting awfully quiet, I hope he doesn’t interpret this as me freaking out or rescinding my offer. I mean, I am a little surprised, but you know, I’m not shocked like I’m about to run out the door as if I’m being chased in a horror movie.”
Frederick cocked his head to the side and said “Tilly? Are you still with me? My body language reading skills aren’t as good as they used to be and you are awfully quiet, which if I remember correctly, isn’t something you are known for.” he said with a wink.
Tilly snapped back into the room “Oh, yes, sorry, my mind wandered… You may recall that I am known for that too.” she said with a flirty tone.
“So, about that dinner or lunch thing, if you haven’t run out the door on me, I assume your invite still stands?” He said with a nervous chuckle.
“Oh, yes! When are you free?” Tilly said excitedly.
“Well, it is almost lunch time, and I’m free now…” he offered.
“Oh, sure, yes! Where to?” she asked.
“Well, there is a nice little cafe down the street within walking distance,” Frederick replied.
“Perfect!” Tilly paused for a moment and then awkwardly asked, “Um, do you need help, err, is there something I should do… Ummm…”
“Tilly, it is okay, I’ve been like this for a while. If you want to lead the way, that would be nice.” He flicked out his cane. “What I need you to do is, tap the back of my hand with the back of yours. That lets me know where you are and that you are ready to lead. I will slide my hand up to your elbow. Just let me know if there are steps, giant people-swallowing cracks in the sidewalk or tree branches that will decapitate me if I run into it.” He could hear Tilly starting to breathe a bit quickly. “Tilly, it is okay, I hear you getting nervous, I won’t break, I promise.”
Tilly slowed her breathing, but not the newly hatched butterflies in her stomach. She tapped the back of his hand and he gently ghosted his hand up her arm and to her elbow. They walked out the door and she couldn’t be happier.