I recently ran a 10K race on a cool day, and it rained the entire time. I was chilled to the bone, so I stopped at Thomas Hammer Coffee in Fairwood for a hot drink.
A woman seated alone near the counter raised her head when I walked in. She looked like Petra, and though I didn’t think Petra’s beauty could be improved, this woman looked like an enhanced version.
As I looked at her, and she at me for much longer than a pair of strangers should, she showed no expression as this mutual evaluation was going on, nor any discomfort about the prolonged eye contact.
I like these situations because an interaction is more likely. Rarely does anything come of it, but it’s almost always a pleasant encounter.
After ordering my drink, I positioned myself to talk to her, but to my surprise, she spoke first.
“Where’s the swimming pool?”
I doubled over, working hard at not bursting into laughter. I was still completely soaked, and I may have been dripping all over the floor.
“I was in a 10K race, and I run so hard I sweat the rest of the day.”
She gave me a fake ‘eeew’ look.
“My name is Jim Johnson.”
She shook my hand and smiled. “I’m Petra II.”
She had to have noticed my bewildered expression. I’ve written about my pursuit of Petra in many previous blog posts, but in the end, it didn’t work out, and we went our separate ways. To meet someone with that name who so resembled her is mind-boggling.
“Petra Two?” I asked. “That’s your real name?”
“Yes, using Roman numerals. My parents lost their first-born as a toddler, who was named Petra. My parents so loved the name, but they couldn’t legally re-use it. So I was named Petra II.”
My order was up, and though I was going to take out, I wandered back to Petra II. “Is this your favorite coffee shop?” I asked.
“Yes. I come so often, I’ve been appointed table monitor. You may sit here.” She pushed out a chair with her foot.
I sat across from her and as we talked, I was so enchanted by her beauty, her voice, and mannerisms. She is so nearly the original Petra’s twin that I thought maybe she was. But Petra does not have a sister, and though it occurred to me that maybe this was Petra, she would’ve behaved differently. I finally concluded this was a new Petra who was even more fascinating and alluring than the original.
“What was your last name again, Jim?”
My mocha was a little short of chocolate, so I excused myself and took my cup to the counter. While waiting, I saw Petra II pick up her phone. It occurred to me she might search for my Facebook page.
I’d guess she’s in her mid-30’s, and I didn’t want her to think I’m too old. I grabbed my phone, quickly went to my Facebook photo albums and tapped the first photo I came to of a younger me.
I returned to the table and told Petra II that I often come to this place on late Sunday afternoons. She said she’s almost always a morning coffee drinker.
She was still tapping on her phone and then she looked at me, looked back at her phone, and did it again.
“Jim, I just went to your Facebook page, and you look much younger in your profile pic.”
“I just ran a hard race, and I’m drained and tired. With a shower and a little rest, I’ll look like my old self.”
“When was this picture taken?” she asked.
“Oh…a couple months ago.”
“It looks like a really old photo.”
“I used one of those filters on it. I like the rustic, dated look.”
She stared at her phone for several seconds. “This poster in the background – isn’t that Jaclyn Smith? Wasn’t she in that 70’s TV show Charlie’s Angels?”
“Boy, you are knowledgeable…ahhh…I’m not sure who that is.”
She turned her phone off, dropped it in her purse and pulled out her keys. She had a smile the whole time, but I couldn’t tell if it was favorable to me or not.
“I need to get going.” She got up, put her hand out, and we shook. “It was nice to meet you, Jim.” With that, she was out the door and gone.
I lingered at the table, replaying our conversation in my head. What a pleasant, pleasant woman she is. Yet I was troubled. I shouldn’t have changed my profile pic. I probably blew any chance I had.
I tossed my cup into the trash and walked to the car. When I got home, I took a long, hot shower, and it felt really good.
As I pulled stuff from the fridge to make myself a delicious meal, my phone dinged.
I’d left it in the bedroom, so I fetched it, and what a surprise. It was a Facebook friend request from Petra II. And with it a message which contained nothing except her phone number.