Snapshots At St. Arbuck’s: Distressed

He was a handsome guy, seated a couple of tables away from me at St. Arbuck’s, which, on this mid-summer’s morn, was packed to the walls.

He was wearing torn and distressed designer jeans that probably cost as much as a nice watch and an equally distressed, but no less expensive tee shirt.

The hair was, you guessed it, distressed.

You know what I mean—the kind of style that intentionally looks as if one had just gotten out of bed, sprayed/gelled the hair into place and gone out to face the day.

Once again, very expensive.

He seemed to be, uh, distressed and made constant furtive glances toward the in-store restroom facilities and then back to his computer.

MacBook Pro; Restroom; MacBook Pro; Restroom.

Like that.

Finally, he looked at me and in a deep Aussie brogue muttered, “Watch my stuff, mate?”

To which I replied in the affirmative.

He dashed toward the Men’s Room, grabbed the handle and found that it was locked.

Looking around as if to make sure no one was watching he turned toward the Ladies’ Room.

It was out of order.

Walking hurriedly back to his table he sat, staring laser-like at the restroom doorway.

In the time it took him to glance down at his computer, a mom and three young children took up a vigil outside the restroom door.

When he looked back, his face registered a degree of horror typically reserved for viewing carnage, and I could tell that in his mind he was calculating how long it would take for that crew to do their business and vacate the facility.

A line of sweat appeared above his perfectly plucked eyebrows and he began to lick his lips compulsively.

Lick; lick.

Lick; lick.

Lick; lick; lick.

A constant rhythmic manifestation of the immense stress the young man was obviously feeling.

The door opened and out stepped the lone occupant, a store employee, who politely held the door for the mom and her clutch of children while apologizing for the inconvenience of only one working facility.

The young man glanced my way, swore, and stood, his intention quite obviously to secure the next shot at using the restroom.

Before he could get there a large man in a too-small tee shirt and too-tight shorts brushed past him and headed for the door.

I could tell by the expression on the young man’s face that he was considering an open-field tackle on the guy, in the end deciding that to do so would probably mess up his hair, or something.

The man grabbed the handle, found that the door was locked, decided not to wait and turned to leave.

Just as the young man made his move toward the restroom a female voice hollered from across the room, “Terry!”

With an expression of raw, naked desperation on his now sweaty face he tried to wave at the girl—a quite lovely young woman, by the way—and be done with it, but she made her way across the crowded store, wrapped Terry up in a warm, familiar hug and began making small talk about this and that as Terry’s gaze kept shifting from her to the restroom and back.

The restroom door squeaked as mom and kids exited, the kids talking noisily and excitedly about going to the water park.

At that moment the young woman was showing Terry something on her iPhone leaving him no way to gracefully end the conversation.

He was facing me, looking over the top of her head, the sweat now running in free flowing rivulets down his troubled face.

Reflected in his eyes I saw terror known only to those who have, well, business to do—urgent business—and mere seconds to accomplish the doing of it or risk certain public humiliation and eternal embarrassment.

Suddenly, he turned and without comment or a backward glance ran toward the restroom, yanked open the door and rushed inside.

The young woman stared after him, mouth open slightly and a look of total bewilderment coloring her lovely face.

She turned toward me and widened her eyes as if to say, “What the heck?”

I shrugged and thought to myself, You know, there are times when a man’s gotta’ do what a man’s gotta’ do.

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