“Ooh, ooh, – he’s here!” Nose pressed against the tiny pane of glass in the service entrance of the kitchen, I bounced in excitement.
“Where, where?” My best friend, Chevonne, pushed me partly out of the way to get her own look.
“Right there!” I squealed, tapping on the glass.
Bwack! The door swung open and I found myself rubbing my forehead as Charlie, our catering crew chief, strode through. Rolling his eyeballs at me, he didn’t say a word, but Chevonne and I scurried back to the work table.
As we put the finishing touches on the salads, I couldn’t help but grin. Right outside those doors sat THE Miles Griffith…sports star extraordinaire of our university… senior class president…most eligible bachelor on campus…my future husband…
OK, That last bit was still technically a fantasy, but if I timed things just right, I might be able to get Mr. Griffith to notice me one of these days. And once he noticed me, it would just be a matter of time before he would become smitten, right?
I’d done nothing but dream since I’d found myself seated next to Miles at Freshman Orientation. I liked to think our hearts had connected that first day, but I’m not sure that his “Do you have the time?” qualified as sweet nothings. Together, Chevonne and I had spent hours concocting schemes whereupon Miles couldn’t help but be overcome with desire for me. Unfortunately, he still seemed unaware of me and, at times, I feared that those tender first words might also be the last we would share.
But, here we were, together at last! Well, technically, he was out there, sitting at one of the one hundred and thirteen tables for the university’s annual sports banquet, and I was in here, as part of the school’s catering crew. But we were in the same building and I knew that destiny was within my reach. He would watch me serving, my delicate hands so deftly handing out plates and attending carefully to every diner’s needs. He would admire the way I carefully filled everyone’s water goblet, while asking if they would also prefer coffee or tea. My hands might linger a moment too long on the stem of his glass, and he would look up. Our eyes would, at long last, meet, and he would wonder how he had ever lived without me.
“Earth to Michelle!” Charlie snapped his fingers in front of my eyes and handed me a round tray filled with eight salads, “Think you can manage this?” I nodded and had to restrain myself from wiggling the Happy Dance when he instructed me to take the tray to Table Three – Miles’ table!
It was our moment! I backed through the door, balancing the tray on both arms. Carefully, I turned around and headed directly towards Miles. I had nearly reached the table, anticipating that breathless moment when our souls would connect and he would know. And then it happened.
Bells didn’t ring and angels didn’t break out into chorus. Instead, my foot hit something wet. My arms began to flail as I tried to maintain control over the large tray, along with my body, which was heading in the general direction of the floor. The tray slipped out of my hands, hit the table, and rained lettuce, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, and Italian dressing all over my future husband. My knees hit the floor and I slid several feet, while wishing that a providential sinkhole would form right now, right there.
The next few minutes remain a merciful blank in my mind. The next thing I remembered was sitting in the kitchen, while Chevonne clucked around me and Charlie put band-aids on my raw knees.
But then, the kitchen door opened, and HE entered. Granted, Mr. Wonderful had bits of lettuce still clinging to him and an oily stain all down his front. But it was him! At long last, our eyes met, and an understanding flashed between us.
“You ok?” Miles asked. I nodded mutely as Charlie slapped the last band-aid on my knee.
And they lived happily ever after…
Well, they did, really! Only, that flash of understanding? It was actually the sudden realization that some things aren’t meant to be - particularly when salad dressing is involved.
In the end, I married Charlie, of all people. He still rolls his eyeballs at me, rescues me out of my embarrassments, and applies band-aids when needed.
And I never serve him salad.
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