He taught me how to read people’s eyes.
My Dad always told me to know your audience, read their eyes, before you say anything. That way, you can make those small adjustments and hit a home run with your words.
It’s a skill I have now, but one that I was sorely lacking when I first met her.
We were running around the yard, sparklers in hand, I was trying to hide the sheer joy of the sputtering lights behind the mask of male pubescent cool.
I was all skinny legs and knobby knees, hiding my singular eyebrow behind a curtain of dark bangs. Slouched shoulders and awkward gait.
She was all bright eyes, shining cheeks and blinding braces.
She was my Mom’s friend’s daughter and we met while on one of those forced multi-family events that I found excruciating. The assumption that because the parents connected, so should their children, was nothing short of insulting. Plus, the parents usually connected over alcohol and a shared desire to ignore their kids, if only for a couple of hours.
But this time, there was Kari.
I stood in agony as I tried to come up with something to say. A quip. A joke. Anything that might get her to take notice of me. To recognize that her soul mate was standing right in front of her.
But my thoughts keep turning in on themselves like one of those weird Escher paintings we learned about in art class.
So, I study from behind my safe mantle of hair. I watch. I take note of her every move, the sound of her voice, her laugh as if I am a scientist observing a new species of exotic bird.
I could win her over with comedy. I was fairly funny. Or, that’s what all my idiot friends always told me. I ponder this for a moment. The only jokes I know are riddled with body functions and genitalia references. I deduce that this would not be the right approach and quickly move to another angle.
I could go the observational route. I turn over some options. The weather? It was unusually humid out.
Who am I? My Grandfather? Am I going to talk about my arthritis next?
There was always the complimentary approach. I did like the pants she was wearing. And she had a nice clip in her hair.
I finally decide to go with the classics – ask her about herself. Keep it simple.
I take several very deep breaths to try to quiet the nest of butterflies in my stomach.
I pat my bangs down a bit more to ensure my safety net is there in case this does not go down well. In my mind, I can become invisible behind them upon command.
I take one hesitant step forward….
…as she comes running up to me, a little winded, eyes bright and face flushed.
“So, what school do you go to?”
I brush my bangs out of my eyes as my heart bursts into a million points of light, just like the sparkler she is holding.
This is my response to this week’s speakeasy,
over at yeah write, where we had to make some
reference to M. C. Escher’s lithograph, Waterfall,
and use the sentence “He taught me how to read
people’s eyes.” as the first line in our piece.
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the speakeasy creative writing challenge.