Today there was a guy at the pool. A plenitude of them, actually, but only one that mattered. I had been watching him for a while, and not just because he was exceedingly cute—bright blue eyes, a tanned, carved-up bod straight off the cover of Men’s Fitness, a cowlick on the right side of his forehead. I was utterly riveted, also because of something he did.
They were throwing a football, he and his friends, from the shallow end to the deep end, to the hot tub, and into the arms of whoever would call out “Hit me!” before running toward the pool’s edge for a spectacular, highlights-reel-style diving catch. But this guy—the one I’m talking about—was the only one who noticed two younger boys, no older than eight, splashing around and watching the whole scene with wide-eyed admiration.
“You wanna play too?” the guy said to the younger boys. They were too diffident to answer, but you could see that they did. He threw the ball to one of them, who fumbled it in the water, then dog-paddled after it as quick as he could and threw it back. Then the guy—my guy—threw it to the other kid, who caught it and threw it back.
“Nice toss,” My guy said.
“Yo, man,” one of his buddies in the hot tub said. “You’re jackin’ up the game. Throw the ball over here.”
“Shut up!” my guy said. “Chill out.”
He passed it a few more times with the younger kids, then threw the ball over to his hot-tub buddies. That’s when I knew I had to be plucky and try to talk to him. Go out and look for trouble. The problem was, there was no way to get close to him without making an idiot of myself. I couldn’t just dive in there and kind of swim around in his vicinity. And even if, by some divine infusion of courage, I could summon up a smooth conversation-starter, I would be instantly crushed by a chorus of oohs and ahhhs from all his primate buddies.
It was then that an idea hit me and came to full blossom in my head. I opened the copy of Zorba the Greek that I’d bought the day before at the local bookstore. There were a couple blank pages at the end of the book. I ripped one out and, with the pen that I’d been bringing to the pool daily but, until this moment, had never actually used, I wrote out the stupidest message you’ve ever read. I promptly jettisoned that message and wrote the following on the scrap that remained:
Francesca Room 312
Not bad. What it lacked in specificity, it made up for in mystery. Could seem a little slutty if it fell into the wrong hands. But I knew, or felt strongly, that his hands were not the wrong ones. It was just a matter of getting them there. When I saw him swimming toward the ladder, I realized opportunity was about to knock. I gathered up all my stuff and walked toward the projected point of contact. My timing couldn’t have been more precise. Just as his water-glazed body rose up from the ladder, I “accidentally” bumped into him.
“Oh. Excuse me,” he said.
I said nothing. I held a tiny piece of paper up for him to see, flashed a slight smile and handed it to him. Using every shred of restraint of which I am capable, I didn’t sprint out of there, but sauntered away with calm, measured steps.