ROMANCE RHYMES WITH BALONEY
Being sensually immersed in the aroma of freshly roasted beans was what motivated them to go to work every day.
Well, at least that was what Mr. Mesoloney thought before Zane showed up.
It was just your typical day at STERBOX coffee. Will came in and ordered his black coffee, straight up. Lisa asked me to make her non fat skinny one pump of chai latte, which is basically water and chai syrup with only the slightest idea of milk. Hey, she liked it. And she was nice. Which was better than Nat, who was always complaining that there wasn’t enough whipped cream in her MOCHA FRAPPBLASTS. (Seriously. Every day, I added more and more. It’s mostly whipped cream at this point)
“Good afternoon, darling.”
I looked up from cleaning the frother and saw a tall, caramel coloured man with long jet black yet somehow blueish-purple wavy locks staring me right in the eyes with the slightest hint of a smile accentuating his perfectly pointed chin. But I’m illiterate. I shouldn’t know what accentuating is.
“Uhhhh…” I responded, as the frother decided that it was the perfect time to malfunction, steam billowing forth and clouding the lenses of my glasses.
It was the fog that saved me. The moment in which my vision was clouded gave me courage.
“Uhhhh, Mr. Mesoloney here, welcome to STEERBUX COFFEE, what can I get you uhh.”
"Oh. Mr. Mesoloney, is it? What an enlightening name.” he gently tucked a wayward curl that had escaped from his mane behind his ear.
“One Flat White with a whisper of cinnamon sugar.”
“UHHHHHHHH IT RHYMES WITH BALONEY.”
Oh my God, he’s hot and I’m…something. I sputter some more. SHIT.
Zane chuckled. “Very cute, dear. I knew I picked this place out of all the coffee places I could have been for a reason.”
What did that mean?!?
Lost and without a reply to be had, I resorted to creating Zane’s beverage. Steamed milk, foamed milk, espresso, and such.
“Uhhh…here you go…”
“Why, it looks delightful. Many thanks.”
Did he just wink at me?!?
“Move it along, buddy, some of us rely on this to stay alive.” The customer behind him groaned.
Oh, it was Leo. Yeah, he really needs the stuff.
Without acknowledging Leo in the slightest, Zane strode to a table directly facing the counter and pulling his laptop out of his bag, he settled in, his long fingers tapping out an elegant rhythm of his own making.
Oh fuck. Those fingers…
Bet he could make one hell of a latte.
“Yeaaah, I’m Mr. Mesoloney, I dunno if I mentioned that..” you sputter inappropriately to Zane’s retreat and also to Leo, who really didn’t need this today.
“Can you lug this big bag of trash out back?” your employee was asking as you managed to tear your eyes away from (subtly? Not so subtly?) checking out Zane’s broad and appealing shoulders.
You were trash after all.
You hoisted your self portrait unto your own shoulder and staggering under its weight, you managed to get the door open with your non-dominant hand.
But then you tripped. Your life flashed before your eyes. Why did you forget to wash your hands that one time? It would haunt you forever. Why did you not vault yourself over the counter and get the digits of that bronzed god and quit your job already?
Your vision swam as the pavement rose to meet you but suddenly, you were not being introduced not to a faceful of concrete, but rather, an armful of…
Zane led you into a graceful dip. Believe me, led is an accurate description. In fact, it seemed as if he was ready to lead you into a few other dance moves as well, but you didn’t know the steps.
You’re not sure if you even cared.
You looked up, and oh no, his eyes. They were making your legs all wobbly once again and no good partner, not even Zane himself could save your from inevitable scraped knees and the bruised ego that was sure to follow.
“Mesoloney, we need you up front…oh…”
Your coworker, Jane had laid eyes on the scene that looked like something out of a bodice ripping romance. Well, in this case, the attire was a STERBOX smock, rendering Mr. Mesoloney a more than adequate lead. They were born for this.
“On second thought,” Jane rubbed her forehead… “Do you need me to cover for you?”
THIS IS HAPPENING.
“Jane, darling, it would be sweet of you. Mr Mesoloney, do you fancy a little museum trip?”
You hadn’t been to a museum in years. You spent your time talking to trees. Did you have the mental fortitude to handle that much culture in one day? You don’t even read books.
Zane was waiting, his eyes smiling back at you and you found yourself saying exactly what you’d expect.
“Uhhhh, sure…why not…”
Jane winked at you and softly closed the door behind her.
You didn’t know why she decided to be so nice to you in that moment. Maybe it was fate? Or maybe it was the fact that you covered for her that one time she spilled a gallon of hot milk on the floor right before closing time when she had an adequate date to get ready for. Her boyfriend was nice. Made great spaghetti.
You needed to refocus, because suddenly, Zane is sweeping you up princess style and carrying you over the threshold of the parking lot.
You didn’t even know parking lots had thresholds. TAKE ME NOW!
Zane was suddenly looking at you with a light blush on his cheeks. He caught himself and smirked.
“Darling, you realize that you said that out loud, don’t you?”
OH MY GOD! OH MY CUCK, OH GITOD!
Zane pressed a soft but manly finger against your lips.
“Darling, you’re doing it again. Don’t worry, I don’t mind. And”, he paused dramatically, “I will take you. The museum is only a few minutes away.”
And before you knew it, he had somehow settled you into the car and strapped you in. You didn’t even register it, but you did somehow notice that his car smelled like lilies and vanilla.
Five minutes later you were there.
Zane opened the car door for you and he gently took your hand so that you didn’t fall again.
“Can’t have you falling again, darling.” He smiled softly, echoing your inner monologue.
You were surprised to see that the museum was smaller than you expected. It was an elegant Victorian building with gingerbread molding and a welcoming wraparound porch.
And it was lavender.
“Do you like my little museum?”
It was his?!?
“Uhhh…it’s gorgeous, you’re gorgeous, uh, yeah…” you babbled, but he chuckled softly, opening the door to a large room.
All along the walls were these massive paintings of things you were surprised to see that were immediately familiar.
“Is that…Pickle Rick…and Homer?”
“Yes darling, very perceptive….you see, this show is a very special selection.”
Zane gestured to the walls, his elegant fingers caressing the air with the greatest of ease.
“The young and brash Pasportout selections. Only the most elegant and dankest of memes…those young artists are all the rage these days, my dear.”
You giggled at the most elegant utterance of the word ‘dank’ that had ever heard in your life and would most likely ever hear.
Zane was holding out an elegant flute. You also noticed a table full of French macarons that normally demanded your attention.
….but you didn’t feel hungry.
You took the wineglass that Zane offered to you and holding it up to your trembling lips, you took a small sip. It was bubbly and delicious.
“Oh I see, ma petite amie is very gorgeous, indeed?”
As if summoned straight from the pages of a trashy French novel, a man with neon green hair and an outrageous neckerchief was swanning in front of them.
“Ah…young Paspartout…it is a pleasure as always.”
Was he for real? I mean, that aggravated fake accent…it was eating the whole banquet hall, which was impressive, considering its size.
“Tre manufique! Tell me, young petite amie, what do you think of my little comment on internet superficiality?”
He gestured wildly, almost upsetting your glass. For some reason, this blunder meandered its way into the cockles of your heart and nestled there. It was cute. He had to be putting on an act.
He leaned in, a grin lighting up his entire face. You could light a whole room with that wattage.
“I speak, of course, of ze memes.” He mock-whispered.
Wait a minute.
Are you sure this is real?
Is this how life really is…….?
The room suddenly seemed to be muted somehow. Colors were fading, the ambience of the happy, art viewing, champagne sipping and macron munching public sounded muffled, as if underwater.
“Whuh, what’s going on?” you said aloud, to no one in particular.
Your movements seemed slow, not unlike your body’s reservation to close after a long day of hauling the ol’ bean juice.
I musta drunk a lot more than I thought…
Yes, you know…this is all just a game.
Oh, oh fuck! It was the weird voice again! You were just a normal young woman with an abnormally deep voice who was slightly clumsy—ok maybe you were more eccentric than that but only a little—and all you wanted was a normal love life. As in, the love life you never thought you would never have, I mean, where does someone like Zane even come from? You did not need the antics that always came with the weird voice. Fuck! You knew you really should have kept that illegal garden in your basement!
But what would Zane think? You would never be able to move in with him thus sending your love life into an unending spiral into the quagmire of despair. And there would be no illegal garden or hot hot babes with a beautiful glue gun full of sparkly warmth. Also, if you are illiterate, how in the hell do you know what the words quagmire and eccentric were? Your existential crisis will never end.
That’s right. It will never end. NONE OF THIS IS REAL.
Unbeknownst to you, Zane had been carefully watching you the entire time. Most of your inner monologue had been showing on your face. And you had been muttering bits and pieces of it under your breath.
“Darling,” Zane spoke carefully, “What exactly, is a “quagmire of despair”?”
Oh god. Now Zane can hear your thoughts now?! Mortifying…
“Uhhh….it’s also something that rhymes with baloney, uh, nothing to be worried about…” you fumbled, struggling to regain the moment.
You don’t get it. You don’t just get someone to be interested enough in you after you just make him coffee and say a few words to him. Life doesn’t work like that.
No. It doesn’t.
You put your hands that were unusually delicate in contrast to your other mannerisms against your ears, trying to block out the sound, but the words remained, imprinted on your heart.
Your heart was hammering in your ears, moving blood throughout your body as it always did. It kept you alive. Hey, that was something at least.
You were alive!
This was real!
“Z….Zane…” you stuttered, but you kept at it. You kept opening your mouth and forming words, even if the very effort was a struggle.
…but Zane was staring at you openly in that way he does…
That non-judgmental gaze…shot through with traces of…concern?
Suddenly, he was pulling you into his arms.
“Darling…this isn’t you…” he whispered, genuine tears shining in the corners of his eyes.
“Why don’t you remember…?” he stroked your head softly, and you found yourself leaning into his embrace.
You tried to remember what had been causing you distress…
but you couldn’t.
“My name is…” you whispered into Zane’s muscular chest.
“Yes darling….?” He said carefully.
“My name is…..”
The tears that were threatening to spill from Zane’s lashes made good on their efforts and were now flowing forth and running down his chiseled cheeks in a torrent of emotion.
“It’s okay…everything is alright now...” Zane spoke soothingly.
An explosion of light and color flashed.
You raised your head just as the sounds of the party returned in a roar of Foley that was true to life…..
“And I wos, I was telling ‘ze councelor, I AM PASPOURTOUT…and you…VIL GET OUT OF MY GALLERY!”
The crowd chuckled politely at the loud green haired man’s story.
You stared, in a haze trying to integrate everything around you. Zane still had his arms around you. You never wanted this to end.
“Come home with me, dear?” he said softly into your ear.
“Yes,” you answered, your voice no longer a strange masculine cadence. “So long as you keep dipping me, but for real this time.”
Zane laughed genuinely at your statement, willingly letting his composure slip for you.
“Of course!” And he lifted you into the air and spun you both around as you laughed.
Zane settled you gently unto the parquet floor, but not back to Earth as you almost resigned it to be.
As others thought it had to be, that it could never be the happy ending that you dreamed of since you were a little girl.
But now it really was. The voice in your head now just a bad dream that wasn’t yours to begin with.
Zane turned to the outrageously fake voiced, but strangely talented artist and laid a companionable hand on his shoulder.
“My good man.” Zane said with a smile and a lilt in his voice that could barely contain his happiness.
“I may need to commission you in the future…for a very special portrait...”
He winked at you, and you blushed. You loved it when he winked.
“You better stock up on titanium white….”