The Beard Trap!

Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction inspired by real personality traits observed by me in various people around me. However, any resemblance to any specific person, living or dead, is purely coincidental and unintentional.
. . . . .

“Ye lo 30 rupees bhaiya.” She told the Auto-wala as she got out; offering him three notes of 10 bucks each. And then she looked at her watch – five minutes to five.

He had asked her to meet him at five pm. She was on time. She should have been late. “Best to keep them waiting” - that’s what she’d been told. Not her style though.

She shouldn’t have agreed to meet him at all - after the fight they had last time! Was it really one year? Oh well, at least the coffee here was good! Well, definitely better than what she would have made for herself at home!

With that, she gave a shrug to no one in particular, and walked towards the glass doors of the cafeteria.

He was browsing through the New Arrivals section in the Magazine Counter of the Cafeteria.

She’s late. All girls are!
No she isn’t, I am early.
Why did I come here so early?
Why did I even ask her to meet me?
I know I’ll just goof it all up again!

He pushed one hand into his pant-pocket and toyed with his cigarette case, wondering if he ought to go out and light a smoke again.

I should have shaved. She’s always seen me clean-shaven. I wonder if she’ll like it.

He nervously stroked the small beard that he had taken to sporting since the last few months.

Oh well, what difference does it make anyway? It’s not likely that I’m going to make first-base today!

He gave a crooked boyish grin at that and turned around.

That’s when she saw him.

Moustache, beard, spectacles, the only things missing were a pot-belly and a Red Cap! He was even wearing that red sweater she’d seen him in, the first time they’d met! A chuckle threatened to escape her mouth. She tried to distract herself in the act of putting her wallet back into her handbag.

And then he saw her, standing there at the door, dressed as usual in jeans, and a jacket that was two sizes too large for her!

How many sweaters is she wearing inside that jacket today?

He still remembered how abnormally cold she used to feel during the winters, so that she’d cover herself in so many layers of clothing that she looked almost like a giant, stuffed, and extremely cuddly, teddy bear!

Two perhaps? Could even be three!

Smiling, he nodded at her and beckoned her towards the table he had “reserved” by placing his laptop bag on it!

They both walked up to the table, and then, with all the seriousness that she could muster, she said, “I see you are playing Santa for the kids in the neighborhood this season!”

“Huhh?” He looked up searchingly at her face, trying to figure out whether she was being sarcastic or mocking at him, and then he saw it – the faintest gleam of a mischievous twinkle in her eyes!

She was brilliant at hiding her feelings, but if one looked close enough, her eyes always gave her away. She was teasing him, even under the guise of sobriety. And that just made her so much more endearing to him.

He wondered why he always felt like an inexperienced teenager with her. He was over 30, and God knows he’d had more than his fair share of the “fair ones”! Yet, each time he was with her, he felt totally lost. For instance, even now, he had set his eyes upon her less than a minute ago, and he was already finding it impossible to think straight!

“You want to talk first, or shall we order some coffee?”

“What?” He dragged his mind back to where they were.

“Well, after that ride in the open auto, I’m feeling a bit cold…”

He couldn’t resist a smile at that. She still feels cold the same way!

“What? It really IS cold outside!” She was instantly defensive at the sight of that habitual amusement on his face at her apparent hypothermia. “In fact, it’s freezing! Anyone would agree with me!” And she covered her cheeks with her palms in a vain effort to warm them.

I could do that for you… and in better ways too, if only you’d let me…

He became all solemn once again. “Of course it is. Let’s order some coffee first then, shall we?”

Five minutes later, with their Cappuccinos and Chocolate Brownies in front of them, they were busy catching up on their professional lives with each other. Not exactly what he’d called her here for, but he seemed to find himself at a complete loss of words.

He looked at her as she talked, watched the words roll off her lips, as she took another sip of her coffee and then flicked her tongue out carelessly to lick a wisp of the creamy foam off her upper lip. He shifted uneasily in his chair and looked away.

She always did this to him. Just a few minutes with her, and he was already so aroused! And yet he knew that she was completely out-of-bounds.

Miss-High-&-Mighty-Touch-Me-Not! How could anyone be so exasperatingly desirable and so frustratingly unavailable at the same time?

“Is it like… very hard?”

He was suddenly shaken out of his reverie.

Surely she couldn’t have meant…
How did she…
It can’t be that obvious…

He looked at her with a confused look in his eyes.

She was looking at his face… her right hand on her chin… stroking (of course!) an imaginary BEARD!

“Phew”, he let out under his breath! “Not really, do you want to feel it?”

--- X ---

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Want to Add Something?

Prem said...

Been in similar circumstances. Had grown a beard to look forlorn, sad, lost in luv look...turned out that I was taken to a cuttery after.

you ending is terrific... keep this going

Kaddu said...

Thanks Prem... one of my rare experiments with fiction. :)

Abhiroop Banerjee said...

I like this couple.

Chicky a.k.a. Kaddu said...

Hmmm. I don't.

Abhiroop Banerjee said...

Correction. I identify with this couple.

Chicky a.k.a. Kaddu said...

I don't do that either. Save for the horrors of her home-made coffee perhaps, and her hypothermia.

Abhiroop Banerjee said...

I make great coffee.

Chicky a.k.a. Kaddu said...

Nice trick dude, to get me to invite you over! :D :D :D

Sreesha Divakaran said...

Haha that ending was funny.

But wait - is there a prequel or sequel to this? Have they broken up? Why are they meeting if they have?

Chicky said...

Nope, Sreesha... neither. Just this. Never got around to writing a prequel or a sequel. So have no idea why they broke up. No idea why they're meeting again after an year either. said...

Good one, Chicky.
But can't help but feel that we need a bit Sreesha said..perhaps a prequel or sequel. There's still time ;)

Chicky said...

I know, Sid! When I first showed this story to a friend, before I posted it here, he told me to convert it into a full novel. So I know what you and Sreesha mean. But, I'm just unable to relate with this couple at all now. I couldn't care less why they broke up and it doesn't matter to me where this meeting takes them next. If they are Indian, I'm sure they're not going any place good after this.
Sounds really cynical and bad, doesn't it?

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