I love the way you look

“I love the way you look. Call me for a date on ……”

An index card propped against the phone on my desk. I can only speculate. Is it the cocky motorbike rider in the engineer’s office? The one with the Playboy posters plastered on his wall? Or is it the guy who delivers our money? Hunched over as if his gun and cash are too morally ambiguous for an earnest stride. Neither is appealing and there are at least a dozen more. At eighteen I am naive enough to be curious, but self-conscious enough to be nervous. I throw it away.

Another.

“Why didn’t you call me? You don’t know me to reject me like that. I watch you walk to work every day. Please call me for a date…”

I had almost forgotten the first one. My initial interest worn down by infinite choice. Is it him? Or is it him? Maybe? Yes! No. No, not that one. Sinister and pleading, his voice is an ugly combination.

“Excuse me, Mr Adams?” My boss puts down his cigarette. His nicotine stained moustache contrasts wildly with his neat grey sideburns and hair. Short, pale and gangly, he resembles a faded plastic toy that a child would leave in a sand pit. I feel awkward standing in front of his desk. I hand him the card.

“And?” he says.

“I found this on my desk. It’s the second one this month. He’s unhappy that I didn’t call him, and he says that he is watching me,” I reply.

Stroking his chin, he contemplates my discomfort, taking an unusual amount of time to compose his response.

“Aren’t you taking this too seriously? Why don’t you take it as a compliment? You should be flattered.”

He throws back the card. It slides across the desk and lands on the floor. Shrinking, I pick it up. He looks out the window and blows smoke. I am dismissed.

After work, I get a lift home with a friend. I take the next day off and get my learner’s permit. I cadge as many lifts to work as I can and earn my driver’s license in record time. I put off leaving home due to the extra expense, and I buy my first car. I check the locks and back seat every time I get in. I carry my keys with the largest key pointing outward between the fingers on my fist. I scrutinise cars in my rear-vision mirror to see if I recognise the number plate. I look for a new job. I never receive another card. I am no longer curious.