There was an art supply store by the railroad tracks. Sounds like a country music song, if country music songwriters could also draw. I would go there every now and then to pick up an item I remembered from the art classes I’d taken at school. You’d be surprised how often a knowledge of art supplies can come in handy, when doing crafty things around the house.
For example, I have a portable light table. It’s an ingenious object. Basically, a suitcase with a plexiglass top and a light inside. Whenever you need to trace anything on paper, you just put it on the table, turn on the light, and presto! Tracing made easy.
Or there is my exacto knife. An indispensable tool for a wide range of tasks. It looks like a metal pen, but it has a triangular blade at the tip. You hold it just like a pen, while cutting out shapes, or coupons, or trimming off a torn edge on a document. You can also use it to lightly score heavy paper, where you want it to fold, for hand made cards.
Then there are all the nifty painting tricks I’ve picked up along the way. Like gold leaf, which goes on with a dry brush, turning inexpensive molding into expensive molding. Ideal for picture frames.
This art supply store mailed me a catalogue a few years ago, and I kept it. Normally, I don’t like junk mail, but I knew this catalogue was something I would use eventually. Some idea for an art project would come to mind, and I’d be able to look up ways of doing it.
That wasn’t the only reason I held onto the catalogue. The photos inside showed employees demonstrating the merchandise. One employee in particular caught my attention. A super cute guy, with a dazzling smile. He was adorable. Climbing up on a ladder. Using a roller. An airbrush. He was in quite a few of the photos. Turns out he doesn’t just work there, he teaches classes.
You could sign up for a workshop about papier mache. Get lessons in gouache. Other things, too, not necessarily with French names. Naturally, they were a marketing ploy to sell the products, but even so, I figured I might take one of his classes one day. You never know. Maybe he’s gay? Maybe we’ll look into each other’s eyes and there will be a spark? It could happen.
Well, that catalogue sat on my desk for months, and I never got around to taking lessons from the cutie with the dazzling smile. Then one day, I had to race over to that art supply store to pick up something I ran out of. I don’t remember what it was, only that I needed it right away. I stopped in the middle of whatever I was doing, grabbed the catalogue, hopped in the car and drove down to the railroad tracks.
It was in a warehouse district. There was a large parking lot behind the store. A large empty parking lot. Strange. Not a single car in sight. What time was it? Early afternoon. Where was everyone? I walked around to the front of the store and saw the sign. They were closed that day, due to one of those holidays that some people observe, and some do not. Like Columbus Day.
Damn. I’ll have to finish tomorrow. Oh well, nothing to be done about it now. Still, it was annoying. Why didn’t I check what I needed before starting? Grrrr.
It was hot in the car when I got back. Parked in the blazing sun. The air conditioner was not working. I should have parked on the street, under a tree. In the shade. I put the car in reverse and started to back out of the parking space, and almost hit a car.
What? Where the hell did he come from?
The parking lot had been empty, except for me. This other car was speeding out from around the building, and reached the back of my car just as I was pulling out! A fraction of a second later, we would have had a collision.
He skidded to a stop. I put my car back in park. Both of us sat there for a few beats, no doubt his heart was racing as fast as mine. It was a close call.
Okay, okay. We got lucky. No point in getting upset. I took a deep breath and calmed myself. Then waited for him to drive away.
He didn’t drive away. Oh, great, now he’s going to be a prick about it. Not that it was my fault, I wasn’t the one speeding through an almost empty parking lot. Didn’t he see me backing out?
I wasn’t interested in a confrontation, so after a minute or two, I decided to go about my business, and slowly headed for the exit, keeping my eyes straight ahead as I passed his idling car. He followed me. Right on my tail.
“Oh, come on. Really? You’re going to be antagonistic?”
You know what? Just let him pass. Pull over to the curb under that tree and pretend you’re looking through the catalogue.
He slowed to a stop next to my car and rolled down his window.
Alright. The best thing to do now is smile and be friendly. If he’s looking for a fight, he’s not going to get one from me. I turned to look at him, and was surprised to see him smiling back.
He was young. Handsome. Dark hair. Sparkly eyes. Beautiful smile. Dimples.
“Were you trying to get in the store?”
“Oh, they’re closed today.”
“Yes, I read the sign.”
For my money, he was gay. What’s more, he was flirting with me. That’s why he stopped. Not because he was puffing up his chest for combat, but because he found me attractive. We exchanged a few sentences, but none of those included an exchange of phone numbers.
He looked kind of familiar. Why am I never able to think fast when I meet a cute guy? It was only after we said goodbye and he pulled away that I glanced down at the catalogue and realized it was him! He was the cutie with the dazzling smile in the photos. He was the reason I wanted to take lessons in gouache. Or decoupage. Or anything French.
Damn! I just met the guy I’ve been hoping to meet, and nearly crashed into him, then blew it.
When I got home, I looked him up on Facebook. His name was Connor. There he was in his profile picture, with his boyfriend. Of course. He had a boyfriend. How could he not? It was silly of me to think he might be single.
I looked through a few of the photos of them together. They had apparently just returned from a romantic vacation. There they are, sun tanned and blissful. In a field of poppies. On a ferris wheel. Young love. Part of me longed to be that other guy in the photos with him. Another part of me wanted to wish them well.
“Hey. We almost ran into eachother today. I didn’t realize until you drove off that you work there. You’re in the catalogue that was on the passenger seat in my car. I wish I had noticed sooner. (By the way, you’re very cute.)”
After I sent the message, I realized the photos I was looking at were not posted by him. He was tagged in them, but they were posted by his boyfriend. Sure enough, I had sent the message to his boyfriend, not to him!
There was no way to erase a message that had already been sent. Good grief. Nothing to do about it now except laugh. I quickly sent a note to Connor, explaining what had happened, and saying I was sorry, and that I hope I hadn’t gotten him in trouble. He never responded. Neither did the boyfriend…
That was three or four years ago. Maybe five. The business moved to another location, and I had not been back, nor thought any further about him. Not until last week, when I got a flyer in the mail announcing the grand opening of their great big new store, not far from where they used to be, by the railroad tracks.
I wondered if he still worked for them. At an opening day event, they might have demonstrations. Was it possible he would be there? I half heartedly thought about going, and kept the flyer on my desk, but was pretty sure I would end up skipping it.
Then some friends invited me to come with them to a restaurant this past Friday night. It was one of those trendy brewery type restaurants, situated a block away from the railroad tracks, just down the road from where I had almost crashed into Connor. How odd, the timing of that.
After leaving the brewery, I drove past the old location of the art supply store and parked under the same tree where he flashed me that dazzling smile. I decided to go to the opening.
Even as I was getting dressed, I was thinking how ridiculous this was. Some cute guy I met once, years ago, who had a boyfriend. What did I think would happen? Driving there, I was halfway convinced I should turn around and go home, yet I got to the store and went in, hoping to see the boy with the dazzling smile.
No product demonstrations. Shame. No Connor. There was a man with his back to me, talking to some customers. Everyone seemed to know him.
He was cheerful, and possibly gay, and certainly good looking. Couldn’t be the same guy, though. He looked to be in his late thirties. I made a note that he was wearing a wedding ring. Then wandered through the aisles, looking for I’m not even sure what.
When I returned to the front of the store, I got in line with one or two items that I was only buying to justify driving there. As cover, I guess. Feeling a bit foolish about the whole thing. The handsome man with the wedding ring came over to chat with the two people in line behind me. I was aware that he was watching me, but there was no point in spending any time on him. He was married. Besides, he wasn’t the reason I came there.
Or was he? Could this be the same guy? Would he have aged so much since that day in the parking lot? He approached the lady in line ahead of me, to ask if she found everything she needed. Still looking at me, but I still did not look back. Not until he walked over to the counter to wait on another customer.
“Connor, is this the one you were talking about?”
No way! Was this really him? Now I was studying him more carefully. He did look kind of like what I remembered, and it was some time ago. After the cashier rang me up, I stalled, fiddling with the zipper on my backpack. He was standing near the entrance now.
“Hi, can I ask you a question?”
“Do you have something like this in metal? This one is plastic, and it probably won’t last very long.”
I was holding some item I grabbed off the end cap, because it was within reach and I needed a reason to engage him in a conversation about anything at all, so I could look into his eyes, and have him look directly into mine.
He had me follow him to… where? He knew perfectly well they did not have whatever it was in metal, so he offered to make that suggestion the next time they were ordering more.
Neither of us was interested in the item I was holding in my hand, but neither of us had a way of saying anything more. I smiled and held his gaze and thanked him for his help.
When I got home, I searched for him again on Facebook. Easier this time, since he’d made several youtube videos recently, and even published a children’s book with his own art. Good for him. This was definitely the same cute guy. Now appearing a lot older, but still handsome. Now married. Also good for him. Wistful, envious, but good.
The moral? When you’re drawn to a guy who teaches an art class, don’t wait. Take the class. Some soft spoken new age-y yoga guy with long hair? Take his yoga class. Some sexy guitar player from Spain, who passes the hat on the boardwalk, and whose music you downloaded, and even follow on instagram? Take guitar lessons from him. Do it, because you know someone else will.