First Impressions

I was early and so I walked around the block again. The opposite way to the way I had initially come. That’s what I would do when I was early. Find some way to fill in the extra time, knowing that to standing around not looking like you’re just standing around, waiting and watching, is impossible for some people. It certainly is for me. Better to do something. Something physical. Easier to do something physical, which involves not being in physical proximity to the location of the appointment, and walking is also a calming thing, as long as you don’t walk too fast and are not in a hurry. Nervous walking doesn’t really exist. Not in the same way as nervous standing, and nervous fidgeting, does.

Walking, then: around the block. Watching the cars and the hurrying people and taking pains to not copy their cadence and not overshare their energy. Men in corporate overalls unloading office equipment from a removal truck, calling to each other, as they steadied a heavy filing cabinet into position, using a mixture of familiar words in a handful of romance languages, until, until the filing cabinet overbalanced and crashed to the road. Cars still rushing past. The men exchanged a couple of guttural sounds before warming up into full-blown hand gestures and shouting in tongues. An irate version of the Tower of Babel, I thought as I walked past, and then decided that this was a silly thought. And snatches of Eliot’s poetry, angrily shouted, popped into my head, and it amused me to think of it. Let us go then you and I, / When the evening is spread out against the sky / Like a patient etherized upon a table

And that was silly too. But it was enough. My mind had wandered. But it was time to bring it back now. It would soon be time to be sharp, and to let the mind wallow in fairy floss for too long might affect that sharpness. It was possible to have too much of a good thing. Too much of a good thing was not a good thing at all, and so I focussed once again. Concentrated on the task at hand. I decided to turn around and walk back. There wouldn’t be time to walk around the whole block now, and it was vital to be punctual, so I performed an about face and set off again at a brisker pace.

This was discipline. It wasn’t hurrying. Things were in balance. I assured myself of that. I would not be flustered but I would also arrive just exactly on time, and the impression you make when you are exactly on time is a powerful one. To be early can seem needy, as though you had nothing better to do, as if you’re trying too hard, and you really don’t want to seem like you’re trying too hard. It should look easy. As if it just happens like that. Perfectly. The minute hand strikes the hour precisely as your foot falls upon the doorstep. It doesn’t matter how hard it is to appear easy. Appearance is everything. Image. Of course a worse impression is conveyed by lateness. Late looks like you don’t care. Like you didn’t take enough interest to make sure you weren’t late. But since I am not late very often this really wasn’t a pressing consideration for me at this time. I took a couple of very slow, deep breaths, and made sure my breathing was regular, and I pressed the doorbell button.

My heart was racing, but I hid that well. Sweat hadn’t formed on my brow, and it often used to do that, so I knew I had been lucky, and knew it was an opportunity I mustn’t miss. I was inside. The corridor was bare and empty. My shoes made a clip-clip sound on the rough wooden floor, and I knocked on the door and waited.

Inside the room sat a man at a big desk. The room was big too, but bare. The desk, the window behind the desk, the man at the desk, and a single chair. He indicated to me to sit, and so I sat, and looked steadily straight ahead, taking in everything, including the man, not focussing on him, certainly not staring, as it’s rude to stare and staring can ruin a first impression, and it was important that this man should like me, and he kept writing and failed to look up at all.

He spoke: “So, what can I do for you?”

“I was told to come here,” I said.

“Right. So what have you got for me?”

And that’s when I stood up and took off my pants and folded them neatly across the back of the chair. He looked up and I took off my underwear. We were friends after that, and he directed me in six adult films under the name Randy Mountain. He was my daughter’s godfather.

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Published in: on August 23, 2012 at 8:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

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