Jesse stood behind the counter, tall and slightly cumbersome with one beefy hand planted firmly on either side of the register. "Welcome to Taco Bell," he greeted Tiffany, who studiously examined the menu board despite the fact that she knew exactly what she wanted.
Jesse lives in his mother's basement, I'm sure. His eyes, his hair, his skin are all the same tone of bland, and his wire-framed glasses are perched low on a nose covered in adult acne. He must be 30 at least. I wonder about his Mountain Dew consumption...his online girlfriend...the percentage of his paycheck that must be devoted to his World of Warcraft account. Jesse has peaked.
I stepped up to the counter once Tiffany had retrieved her paper cup and receipt and opened my mouth to order, but Jesse beat me to the punch.
"Green Lantern comes out in May," he announced. He said it quietly and his colorless eye peered at me sideways, waiting for my reaction.
This guy is good! I thought to myself and my mind raced backwards to my first encounter with Jesse.
Several weeks before, Tiffany and I had gazed up at the menu board as we did every other week or so, (Okay, once a week. Sheesh.) while Jesse waited patiently for our order. I took my place at the counter to order and was taken off guard by this baffling statement: "Didja know Ryan Reynolds is playing Green Lantern in the new movie coming out?"
I blinked blankly at the tall man and his random statement, and scrambled for an intelligent response. "Uh...yeah, I did hear that. Pretty excited for the movie?"
Thank you, Paul, for giving me an unsolicited rundown on your expectations for the new Green Lantern movie.
He answered with a comic book trivia-riddled reply and a thought dawned on me. I was wearing Paul's Green Lantern sweatshirt. This guy mistook me for someone who has even a slight idea about comics! I waded my way through the conversation and even managed to leave him thinking that maybe, just maybe I knew what I was talking about. My food arrived just as I ran out of comic book intellect, and I scrambled with relief to escape the conversation.
Today, my mind was blank--completely devoid of Green Lantern chit chat. Jesse gazed at me expectantly, and this time he creeped me out. I mumbled an excuse of a reply and avoided his stare as he completed the transaction. His transparent eyes followed me as I filled my plastic cup with diet Pepsi, and they clung to me as I took my seat across from Tiffany. Directly in front of Jesse's station. Awkward.
I felt his eyes bore into me as we ate, and it occured to me... I wasn't wearing the sweatshirt today. Six or eight weeks had passed between my encounters with Jesse, and he remembered me and our conversation. Maybe I still have it. But...I'm pretty sure I don't want it.