The other day, I was in Borders, getting some emergency coffee, when in comes these two guys. I smelled them before I saw them; they both reeked of Axe. If you’ve ever been in the weightlifting section of the gym, you know what Axe smells like.
I couldn’t tell how old they were — high school or young college — but they were wearing these bright green Adidas team jerseys. One of them read “DOS SANTOS” on the back. He had some pretty serious acne. I wondered what they played: soccer or volleyball, maybe? They were both skinny and energetic, and had indistinctly brassy-blond hair, like they used to be blond as kids, and now it was darkening into adult hair. Unlike older guys, they didn’t say much to each other, probably because they were exhausted. Only one went up and ordered, and came back with a hot chocolate for himself, and some kind of whipped cream iced drink for his friend. They collapsed on the black pseudo-leather chairs bordering the section and read their magazines in silence.
I didn’t stick around; Axe gives me a headache.
In the indie cafe I go to (free wireless and hidden outlets that only I know about), there works a guy. His pale pink mouth hangs open a little bit, all the time, like he’s gaping at something he doesn’t understand. His face is long and mournful, and he wears his hair in a military-style buzz. He is certainly over twenty, but since he doesn’t talk much, I can’t tell how old he really is. But the most disconcerting thing about him is his round, glassy blue eyes that never seem to blink.
Try ordering coffee from someone like that. You’re just not sure if he’s all there, and he just looks like a sad teddy bear. Even when he says stuff that sounds cheerful, like “Hey, what’s up!” to his friend the owner, his expression never changes. Or talking about a catastrophe: “Did you see the news today?” pointing at the NY Times — still, the google-eyed look.
I also saw a runner, probably a student, with a neat face. It was neat as in, “Neat-o!” but also, as in not messy. He was short, and his face was small, so his features seemed too large for it. He had high cheekbones and a reddish mouth that also seemed stretched across his face. But most startling of all were his huge eyes. They were also blue — you couldn’t miss it. They seemed to pop out from the shade of his baseball cap, framed by thick brown eyebrows in nearly perfect arcs (geometrically, like sections cut out of a circle.)