The Audience

Since my project has taken a slight holiday detour, here’s a story about the shockingly beautiful, extraordinarily savvy, and perpetually single Emily Lankermesh.

Emily has it all. A three hundred square foot one bedroom apartment in a marginal neighborhood in San Francisco, a seventy pound, fiercely loyal Doberman Pincher named Sam who likes to pee on carpets, five best friends with wonderful husbands and new born babies, and a great career as a highly underpaid wig stylist for over-produced, poorly written, musical productions of limited artistic and social value. Life is good.

But Emily is one of those thousands of over-thirty year old, urban women who has a better chance of being hit by a car than finding a life long mate. (I suggested to her once when we were drinking that this was probably because city cab drivers are aggressively reckless and pedestrians are recklessly aggressive, but she rejected my theory). In her case, she’s convinced that it’s because every time she finds someone she sort of likes, she has to go to work.

The best part of Emily’s job is that she has an audience of two in her crew who are  infinitely amused by her love life. And though it is certain that Betina and Raphael have intricate lives of their own, Emily seeks their input and advice as if she is their full-time job.

Emily’s also working hard on getting past her habit of dating homeless musicians, which is probably why she didn’t think twice about one of the show’s musicians asking her for a haircut when he clearly didn’t need one.

Raphael and Betina noticed. They swiveled their chairs expectantly towards the theater of two – Emily typing way at her computer, as the musician, arms swinging, feet shifting, stepped into the room.

“Nice smile,” Emily thought, as she glanced at him through the mirror. She went back to her computer. She was in the process of being quietly devastated by the news that her favorite wholegrains healthfood store cereal is chock full of GMO’s and pesticides.

“Can you cut my hair today,” asked the musician.

Betina and Raphael watched the flacid volley from their front row seats. Emily supressed a sigh.

“Sure.”

After the musician left, Betina rolled her chair back into her corner.

“He likes you,” she said.

“He’s going to ask you out,” Raphael added.

“No, he’s not,” Emily answered, now perusing an article about how the FDA staged a violent armed raid against a raw cheese dealer.

“You’ll see.”

“Total crush.”

Emily rolled her eyes, but later, when she was cutting the musician’s hair, she couldn’t help but wonder. Did he like her? Was he going to ask her out? Could her co-workers be right? And, if they were, what did it all mean?

The musician told her about his life, his time in Germany, the breadth of his career.

“It’s almost like a date,” she mused as she cut his hair.

He told her about the films he’d seen, the countries he’d visited, how he liked his coffee. He smiled at her reflection in the mirror as he watched her work her magic across his head.

She wondered what this, in fact, would lead to.

A breezy chat. A couple of laughs. A well-timed wink.

“I have a question,” he said, haircut finished, his hand stuffed awkwardly in his pocket.

“Uh huh,” she said, looking up at him. He did look much better after the haircut. Handsome, in fact. With dimples in his cheeks. Perhaps he had needed her all along.

Betina and Raphael  burst into the room. Break was over. They took their seats and swiveled back to the drama in front on them.

The musician paused. Ran his hand through his hair. Dug his hands deeper into his pockets.

“What do I owe you,” he asked.

Emily glanced at the clock.

“Forty bucks.”

It was time to get back to work.

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