Excerpt #13: Meet Cute (The Slow Lane)

From the author:

Though The Slow Lane is the first story in the collection, I believe it was the last one I wrote. I was trying to think of an idea for another meet cute when I stopped at a red light and noticed the guy in the next lane playing with some sort of toy. He really was snapping rubbery pink things in time to a song. I thought, “That could certainly get someone’s attention. Is there any way I can turn it into a story?”

From the book:

    Cars seemed to have appeared out of nowhere to clog my way home. I put on some music as I made that first tricky left. Then I only had to endure the tedium of about four miles of stop and go traffic. I was trying not to think about how hungry I’d be by the time I got home. A good song got my mind off my stomach for a minute. There were two lanes of crawling cars. I caught a man to my right trying to hide the fact that he thought my animated singing was hilarious. I switched off the radio and sat in silence and shame, casting shifty glances to my right to see when I was safely past Mr. It’s-So-Funny-to-See-Someone-Enjoying-Herself.
    I sighed and watched his car move past me again. I guessed I would have to settle for boredom at least until I could get some distance between me and that smirking guy. Both lanes stopped. I gripped the steering wheel. I looked ahead of smirking guy and noticed my car twin in his lane. Same silver color and same fairly common model. I couldn’t see the driver, only his hands on the steering wheel. But the hands were not holding the steering wheel. They were resting against it while playing with some sort of neon pink… thing. Whatever it was had rubbery tentacles that the hands were tugging and letting spring back.
    That driver looked as bored as I was. The hands were pulling and snapping in rhythm. I began to think perhaps that other driver wasn’t actually bored at all. He seemed to be having fun with the pink tentacles. My lane shifted forward. I watched to my right as I moved up to get a peek at who was in that car.
    I expected an old guy. At least someone old enough to have a daughter who left bright pink rubbery things in his car. Since I was only 23 that would have been kind of old. But he turned out to be a guy who looked close to my age and who was attractive enough that I took more than a quick peek. I looked long enough that he glanced in my direction and saw me looking. I quickly focused my attention on the road ahead.
    Stupid traffic. His lane moved up a bit as mine stopped again. I recognized that silver car as it pulled up almost level with mine. I could tell he was looking at me and trying to get my attention, but I refused to look over. I’d rather have been caught singing to the radio again than checking out the guy next to me. I turned the music back on. Now I was clearly not ignoring him, just concentrating on something else. My lane moved forward.

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