Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

(This is fiction.  Trust me.)

“Do you want to take my hand?” and the girl said, “Take it where?”. And although he afterwards thought he should have said, “Everywhere”, he only just mumbled. – Looper “Impossible Things #2”

It was a Friday when David called me. I was surprised when I saw his name come up on the caller ID of my cell phone. We had kept in touch sporadically since college but we hadn’t actually intentionally hung out in years. He had recently been trying to get me to intern at the company he was interning at, but I had to decline since I couldn’t fit an unpaid internship in LA into my schedule. He asked me if I was willing to help out with a shoot on Saturday in Orange County. He needed me to shoot some stills for a gallery opening and the idea was met with a great deal of resistance. Operating a camera wasn’t one of my strong suits, especially a still camera, and working for free on a weekend wasn’t a very appealing idea either. He told me that the shoot was going to be in Irvine and since I was going to be there anyways, I decided to help my friend out.

David told me I was going to be working with his co-worker Cynthia and that he’d be passing my phone number along to her. While I knew that I’d be working with her on this Saturday, I didn’t know that David wasn’t going to be there. That made this shoot that much more nerve racking for two reasons. 1) I had never met this girl before, let alone seen her. 2) We were filming a live event which means that there’s no chances for re-shoots. This was a total recipe for disaster and that is exactly what we got.

Cynthia was very nice to me throughout the shoot, probably seeing that I was totally stressed out the entire time. She told me that she had heard stories of how creative I was from David and praised my choice of shots. At the end of the shoot, she told me that even though it didn’t go according to plan that she believed that we had met that day for a reason and that we should keep in touch. I wasn’t quite sure why she said that.  I was definitely not on the top of my game that day, and I wasn’t padding the time in between shots with witty anecdotes.  Somewhere during the shoot, she had misplaced her phone which pretty much was the cherry on top of this “crappiest shoot ever” sundae.

I didn’t hear from Cynthia again until a couple of weeks ago. I was down in San Diego visiting my parents. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was receiving a call from her and was even more surprised by the fact that she didn’t know she was calling me. She knew she was talking to a “Ryan”, but then asked me who I was. I had to explain that I was “the Ryan that shot those pictures for you in Irvine” before she was able to identify me. Instead of apologizing for calling the wrong person and hanging up, she asked me how I was doing, what projects I was working on, and proposed that she, David, and I grab lunch sometime. Some of my friends think this was not an accident and that she was looking for a reason to call me. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt for now.

On Saturday, a couple of friends and I went to a show that David’s company had organized. He had asked me to go even though he wasn’t going to be there. When we arrived, I took a quick peek to see if Cynthia was there (the staff were wearing t-shirts) and she was nowhere to be found. During the intermission, as I walked to the doorway, there she was (she wasn’t wearing one of the staff t-shirts). She was happy to see me (opposed to not knowing who I was), and stuck out her hand for a handshake. We shook hands, but there was something odd about her handshake. It’s not that I noticed her hand being hot, cold or her handshake being limp, or firm. It was just a long handshake, kind of in the same way that Irvine has long yellow lights. It’s just long enough where your brain goes out of “auto pilot” mode and you start to think about what’s going on but not long enough where it’s super awkward. When driving in Irvine, you can actually think “Should I go? I’m kind of in a hurry, so I’ll go” and still make it through. In the case of Cynthia’s handshake, I started to think “So when is she going to let go?”, not that I necessarily was bothered by it.

We chatted for a bit and I returned to my seat for the second half of the show. After the show was over, my friends and I headed for the door to leave. Cynthia was there, once again, and I said goodbye and we shook hands again. This time around, the handshake wasn’t as long, but there was still something about it. I couldn’t explain to my friends until the next day where I finally found the words to describe it. Her handshake was affectionate and I’ve never felt affection through a handshake before. While I don’t remember any of the small talk that we had that night, there was another conversation that was happening simultaneously between her hand and mine.

She asked “Do you want to take my hand?” I asked “Take it where?” with the anticipation that the answer was “Everywhere”.

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