For me, the day began just like any other.
I woke up at eight in the morning, and got ready to head to my minimum wage job at the local Starbucks. It seemed like nothing out of the ordinary, but not for long. Impatient customers from all backgrounds waited for their drinks, but they were mostly stern businessmen or young college kids with the exception of an occasional hipster here and there. Some tapped their feet in the growing line, which caused my co-workers to hustle around. Coffee was fuel in this day in age, and tired eyes were commonplace in this upstate New York Starbucks shop.
These people wanted their energy, and fast. There was no time to muck around in a bustling place like the one I had the luxury of working in for four hours each day. I had the job of calling names and handing people their orders: you could call me a barista if you wanted to be super fancy about things. After all, it was my official title.
The only reason why I got this position was because of my super 'people-friendly' nature according to my boss. A bad habit of mine was smiling like an idiot too often, and I guess it came in handy around here. It certainly didn't hurt to be pleasant, though. One of my co-workers, Christa, told me that my dimples could light up a dreary room. That meant a lot coming from her, because I believed she was the epitome of who we all wanted to be deep down. Christa was witty, funny, pure, and stunningly gorgeous with those blue Bette Davis eyes. She was also an extremely short person. Most of us towered over her, but her almost angelic appearance made up for what she lacked in height.
She would be the type of girl I would go for, if only both of us swung that way. We'd had that talk before, and it went surprisingly well. It wasn't awkward at all because I came to realize that Christa and I weren't that different from each other. We were both confirmed for being extremely homo. She was crushing on a punk named Ymir who hung out at the local clubs and took her pent-up anger out on the guitar.
Now, you're probably thinking that because I like guys, I can easily scope the room out and find some delicious eye candy where I work. You're absolutely right, but I usually do a good job of concealing it. Attractive men poured in and out of this joint every day, and I would receive the occasional jab from Christa when one was caught looking at me. Personally, I didn't think I was anything special to the human eye. I was covered in freckles from head to toe, and my hair had this bad habit of sticking up sometimes. Sort of like an alfalfa patch. If someone were searching for a dude with a natural look, then I guess I'd be a possible choice. But there was no way in hell someone with a model-quality appearance would stoop down to my level.
I knew that if I worked hard enough I could probably end up with a six pack, but it wasn't my ultimate goal. We had to stick to reality: I was a quirky, freckled dork who worked in a coffee shop - I probably wasn't even ready for a serious relationship because I was such a kid at heart.
Watch how fast your mind is gonna change, Marco. It'll change faster than the speed of light once you see the guy that's about to walk in.
I noticed a young man who looked to be about my age with a rather strange haircut giving Christa his order. He wanted some kind of cappuciniweenie thing that I wouldn't be able to pronounce if I tried. His hair was auburn-colored, and there was more of it in the front than in the back. A rather different style, almost like it was inspired by war or something, but it suited him nonetheless. Was it an undercut? I watched as he leaned up against the wall and began to anxiously fiddle with his phone. Stupid jerks always got too caught up in their iPhones with all that Snapchat and 'kik messaging' junk when they had nothing better to do.
Before I had enough time to fully take this mysterious guy in, I was nudged in the side by none other than Christa. How typical.
I carefully took the hot customer's- I mean, the customer's hot drink in my hands and stared at the name which was neatly printed by Christa onto the cup. I read it once, then twice, and realized that I'd stumbled into a bit of a pronunciation dilemma.
JEAN? How the hell am I supposed to say that? As the designated name-caller at this place, I should know better than to screw it up. Put your head into this, Marco, and don't let it blow up in your face.
The last thing I wanted to do was make this guy upset and watch him have a blowout at 7AM in Starbucks, because he looked as if he had woken up on the wrong side of the bed. The bags under his eyes came into view as he glanced up at the clock. Must have had a long night.
I attempted to pronounce his name, and I guess I was a little off. Well, more than a little off. I had said it like 'Gene'. He strutted over with a grimace, and pierced me with his tired amber eyes, hands resting on the table in a menacing way as he leaned forward. Please don't kick my ass, tired undercut dude. I'm just a barista trying to get by.
"Yeah, that's me. Except you said my name wrong. Try again." he muttered. I could feel his eyes drifting down from where they were supposed to be. Ahh, he must have been scrutinizing my freckles. Of course - it never failed when I held a conversation with someone new. My 'skin stars' were always the highlight of anyone's first glance at me, because they were fucking everywhere. I had a love-hate relationship with them.
"Okay, uhh.. Jean?" I gave it another go. This time, I had pronounced it sort of like 'John'. Wrong again.
"Nah, sorry. I'm not a Beatle. You're never gonna learn, are you? It's Jean." His name slid off of his tongue in a very French accent as he smirked.
"Well, excuse me, Jean. I'm not educated enough in the pronunciation of French names. You'll have to teach me sometime, hmm?" I suggested, smirking right back at him. This Jean guy probably thought he was the hottest thing since fire itself. I could tell by the way he grinned at me. On top of that, he spoke with such confidence and ease. Probably had a huge ego. What a flirt.
Oh, right. I was the flirt for trying to set up some French tutoring date with him without even realizing where the whole situation was going.
Wait... did I, Marco Bodt, just come onto him? Dammit, Bodt! Just give him his damn coffee and get back to work. Yeesh.
"Maybe I'll take you up on that offer, Marco." Jean said, his eyes trailing down to my nametag and then back up to my lips. Fuck, they were probably so chapped right now. I immediately became self-conscious and remembered what people had told me about what it meant when someone took a good look at your mouth. Kissing... French kissing... No! Trying to force those thoughts out of my mind, I handed him his drink. He still didn't leave.
Angry customers started bickering with each other and threatening to walk out. I heard one even ask if we were killing a cow trying to prepare their orders, and that made me let out a giggle. Probably an embarrassing one, too. Glancing down at my watch, I noticed that it had been more than a few minutes since I'd called this sleep-deprived French guy up to get his coffee.
"Well, I guess this is goodbye, Jean." I waved shyly as he finally turned toward the door. I was probably blushing like a bashful schoolgirl.
"Au revoir! Adieu, Monsieur Marco!" he turned around, yelling and saluting me as he walked out the door, creating a scene and receiving a bunch of dirty looks because of the 'valuable time' he had wasted by chatting me up.
This 'Jean' was a hot shit, and I hoped that the offer wasn't just a joke. I hoped he'd come back. With a little luck, just maybe we could learn more about each other and discuss some other relevant stuff besides our names. He was unique, appeared to have a great sense of humor, and was quite aesthetically pleasing. Even the bags under his eyes seemed to highlight the tinged remnants of amber inside those irises somehow. He seemed like a person who would be nice to have around. And what did I seem like? Probably just a stupid dork at a coffee shop who couldn't pronounce his name.
Just as I spun around to return to work, I noticed a small card on the table. It looked like one of those things home realtors and lawyers gave to people when they wanted to keep in touch. A business card. As I picked it up and examined it, I noticed it had the name 'Jean Kirschtein' printed on it in fine cursive text, obviously computer-generated. He was a graphic designer who did his own thing in a loft according to the brief description. Snazzy.
On the bottom, a number was listed and the phrase 'appelle-moi?' was messily scribbled next to it. Call me.