Tuesday, June 08, 2004

He's been parking in front of my house every day now for two years. The Ford Explorer is this ugly beigy/yellow and his driver's side door is rumpled--like it was hit by a dozen shopping carts or he smacked a pole when he opened a door. I guess he doesn't care too much about it, though. Either that or the repair will cost as much as the car and it's just not worth it. Strike one.

I'll call him "Mark" since I know absolutely nothing about this guy, except that he teaches at the middle school; and yet I've been creating this whole world around him for quite some time.

Mark looks like like a pear-shaped Starsky. He's got the same mediterranean-looking features: hawkish nose, football-shaped brown eyes, and tight curly hair that he keeps short. Most of it's brown--except for this patch of yellowy/white that matches the color of his car, which looms just above his dark, furry eyebrows. He wears khakis every single day. Strike two.

He arrives in front of my house at approximately 7:09 every morning. I know this because I'm in the kitchen at that time--patiently waiting for him to get out of his car and walk to school so I can let my dog out to pee. Otherwise, if I let her out while he's still at his car, she comes up to greet him. She did once before and it garnered a rather cold response from Mark. Not a dog lover. Strike three.

Mark is always on his cell phone and I often wonder who in the world he's talking to at 7:09 a.m. Could it be he's waking up his teenage daughter so she's not late for school? Perhaps it's his mistress--someone he ought not be talking to during "regular" hours. I've been going back and forth between these two choices and today I'm going with the mistress. It just seems so much more intriguing, don't you think?

What bugs me most about Mark is that he parks in front of my house every day like it's his own reserved spot. Doesn't matter if our car is next to it or if he's over the 30 foot rule (you can't park 30 feet in front of a stop sign in Seattle). Sometimes if someone leaves either spaces in front of the house in the morning, Mark will move his car to "his spot" at lunchtime--while he's talking on his cell phone.

Mark teaches biology--no wait--it has to be junior high school stuff--ok, he teaches some sort of science. like earth science...yeah, that's it...because he had a "Think Locally, Act Globally" bumper sticker on the back of his Explorer. It's gone now. His wife must've gotten it for him as a gag gift one year for Father's Day...and in order to impress Cyndi (his mistress), he had to peel it off because...well, it's just not cool anymore.

Cyndi is 22. She's a geology major at UW. They met at the Wallingford Tully's--Mark's lunch spot, where he'd eat a packaged tuna salad sandwich on ciabatta bread from "Mostly Muffins" everyday. Cyndi was instantly drawn to Mark's little white patch of hair on his head and soon, she would hide the last tuna salad sandwich for Mark so that no one else would snap it up first. Mark didn't notice Cyndi at first--but when she pulled the hidden sandwich out of the small fridge behind the counter, he smiled and said "thanks" and put an extra quarter in the tip jar. He sat down to eat it with the Naked Juice he bought every day and watched as Cyndi helped customers. She was perpetually tan from the salon down the street and she wore a tiny stud in her nose. He baby blue shirt was short enough so he could see her brown, lean waist peeking out from umnderneath the brown standard-issue apron. After she took change from the last cutomer in line, she looked over and caught Mark staring at her. She smiled and wiping her hands on her apron, came around the counter.

"How's the sandwich?" she asked.

"Fine, thanks," Mark replied. He was a little caught off guard by the way she came over and sat down across from him.

"I'm Cyndi," she said, extending her right hand.

"Mark," he said, hoping he didn't have slivers of red onions stuck between his teeth.

They chit-chatted about the weather and when she asked what he did for a living she exclaimed, "Oh no way! I'm a geology major!"

That was how their relationship started. They've been meeting secretly at the Bridge Way Motel for a little over a month now. She brings the tuna sandwiches with her.

Today's the last day of school. Mark is wearing his khakis as usual, but something seems a little different about him. His hair is a little tousled on top; and instead of wearing a button-down shirt, he's wearing a black and blue-striped henley. I can see a black necklace hugging his collar. He's walking with a spring in his step and I was even tempted to let the dog out this morning to see if he'd pet her.

Who knows--maybe Mark will trade in the Explorer for something sportier. Cyndi wants him to get an Acura TSX, but Mark thinks that's a little too young for him. He'd love to get a Solara convertible, but could never afford one on his teacher's salary. Maybe a Bug.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Margaret, this is bloody brilliant. You've created an entire world about a total stranger. I could picture this guy perfectly! Bravo!

(LOVE the new layout, btw)