When I boarded the elevator to ride back down to the third floor, I happened to run into the only woman at Thomas-Smithfield Electronics who had seriously caught my notice. (Well, I guess you could say that Bethany Cox had caught my notice, too, though not in a particularly positive way.)
I thought of her as “the Brown-Eyed Girl”.
Why that? Perhaps you’ve heard that Van Morrison song from the late 1960s, in which the singer rhapsodizes about the eponymous girl with brown eyes.
This brown-eyed girl was a woman, of course, my age, more or less. She had shoulder-length chestnut hair. Even though she wore glasses, I could see that she had the most lovely brown eyes.
I had seen her throughout the building, usually carrying a stack of manila folders or a handful of papers. I didn’t know how long she had been with the company, but I had first noticed her about a month ago.
Speaking of Bethany: the brown-eyed girl was the opposite of Bethany. Not only did she dress more conservatively than Bethany, but she was also far more demure. Almost timid, in fact.
I had nothing against the shy types, of course. The only problem was that I was rather on the shy side myself. And as I’ve said, I was out of practice at meeting women, let alone asking them out.
But I was determined to meet her.
When I stepped aboard the elevator on the fifth floor, the Brown-Eyed Girl had already beaten me there. She was clutching a small stack of folders to her chest, and she was staring down at the floor of the elevator. I knew a little about body language; and I could ascertain that this stance didn’t exactly project openness.
“Good morning,” I said. That was the only thing I could think of to say that wasn’t totally lame or cheesy.
She looked up.
“Which floor?” I asked her.
“The fourth.” I could see that the button for the fourth floor was already lit up, indicating that she’d already pressed it.
I pressed the button for the third floor.
Just my luck. She was only riding the elevator one level down. I had less than a minute to think of a conservational gambit.
Before I could think of anything to talk about, the elevator reached the fourth floor.
“Have a nice day,” I said as she exited. I could think of nothing else to say.
She turned on her way out of the elevator. I saw a hint of smile, a break in the ice.
The elevator closed behind her.
Or maybe it hadn’t been a break in the ice. The Brown-Eyed Girl had been acting out of common courtesy, nothing more.
Our conversation (if you could call it that) hadn’t amounted to much. But I supposed that it had been better than not talking to her at all. The Brown-Eyed Girl was going to take time—assuming, that is, that there was any hope at all.
The elevator landed on the third floor. Time to get back to work. I wondered if Donnie had returned from his smoke break yet, and if he would still be spoiling for a fight.