Rain And Hair Don’t Mix
It was a dark, cold, and rainy night. Too chilly for a summer evening. Eve stood at the corner under the awning. Wondering how she was going to get home. She had just left the salon. Hair perfectly done. Spent a fortune on getting it just right. Everything set to make this the perfect night. And yet, here she was. Stuck under this stupid awning. Starting to sprinkle. A light drizzle. Threatening to ruin her perfect hair. Every strand perfectly blow dried and hair sprayed into place. She muttered under her breath. Blaming the weatherman for not having forseen the coming shower.
Eve had seen the dark clouds rolling in. Checked her phone. Surprise storm rolling in. Sudden shift in wind patterns. She thought she could beat it home. Make it back before the rain started falling. It wasn’t far. A half a dozen blocks to the subway. At the very worst, she could flee down one of the other subway entrances and make her way around with a few extra stops.
She told the hair dresser to step on it. Wrap things up. She paid quickly. Made a run for it. But the rain started quicker than she expected. She wasn’t even halfway to her line when the first drops started to fall. Eve checked her phone. She was at least a block away from any of the other entrances. She looked up at the sky. It wasn’t going to let up anytime soon.
Eve sighed. She had just over an hour to get home. Get cleaned up. And then get to where she needed to be. But there was no way she was going to get to the subway with this rain. Why hadn’t the weatherman even hinted at the possibility of the rain. She would have brought her umbrella. Or better yet, her poncho and umbrella. The big, bright, colorful umbrella her sister had given her for last birthday. She had picked it up in France. Brought it back. Wrapped it up and given it to Eve for a nice gift. Eve loved it. It wasn’t one of those things that someone gave you that you never really used. It was practical as well as beautiful. She used it as often as she could. As often as it rained. Or even looked like it was going to rain. But today, when she had left her house, she had no idea that it was going to pour like this. Eve sighed again.
She looked up and down the street looking for a taxi. A cab she could hail. She didn’t really have the money for it. It would cost her and arm and a leg. She had already blown most of her budget for the month earlier in the week while some friends were in town. Eve had taken them out almost every evening to show them around town and to grab a bite. Then this even came up which she hadn’t been expecting either. Surprise. Surprise. And she wanted to look her best. So, she had scheduled this session at the salon for today. Cost her an arm and a leg. Money she really didn’t have, but it was important to make a good impression. She decided to make the sacrifice. Pulled the trigger. Paid half up front. Put the rest on her card. And now she needed to catch a cab. Only there wasn’t one around. No familiar yellow cars to be seen. She never used them anyway. She didn’t even have any of those ride apps on her phone either. Never needed them. Till tonight. The one night she absolutely had to have one, none were available. She growled under her breath and muttered again. It seemed like the whole universe was conspiring against her tonight. She wanted to shake her fist at the sky. Only she couldn’t because to do that, she would have to step out into the rain. And that would get her hair wet. She wasn’t about to let that happen, no matter how upset she was.
“Excuse me, miss. Could you tell me where the closest entrance is to the C line uptown?” she heard.
Eve whirled around. She hadn’t heard anyone coming up behind her. A man. Tall. Sharp. Handsome. Her heart skipped a beat. She self-consciously ran her hand through her hair, completely forgetting that every strand was perfectly brushed and sprayed in place. She put her hands back down to her side. Trying to compose herself. Clasping her hands and and remembering to smile.
“Yes. Three blocks down that way and then you make a right. It’s on the following corner.” Eve said. Pointing with her fingers indicating the direction. “I’d take you there myself if it weren’t for this rain, but I just had my hair done.”
“Well, then let me walk you there.” he said indicating his umbrella.
It was large and black. Larger than hers even. And hers was already pretty big. It looked like it could keep her dry. Keep her hair hair safe. She would have to walk pretty close to him. Not that she would mind. But still, would he keep it constantly over her or wave it around and walk crazily. He seemed to sense her hesitation.
“Please, allow me. And don’t worry. I have a mother and four sisters. I understand how important it is to keep your hair perfectly dry after a day in the salon.”
A mother and four sisters. That sounded safe. He couldn’t be bad if he understood how she felt about her hair. Eve nodded. He stepped forward and held out the umbrella.
“Here. You hold onto it. I might not keep it perfectly centered. You can control it better and tilt it in the right direction if the winds changed.”
Eve smiled and nodded. She breathed a sigh of relief. She felt like he understood perfectly how she felt. She clasped the handle of the umbrella. The gentleman didn’t let go of the handle. He kept a steady hand on it. She could feel his skin light brushing against hers. His strength and firmness. Purpose. It made her feel secure. She blushed slightly. She trembled slightly and put her other hand up to steady herself.
She looked up and he was watching her. Smiling.
“Ready?” he asked.
“Allow me.” he said as he put his other arm around her waist to pull her closer right before stepping out into the rain. Eve caught her breath sharply, but didn’t have time to think about it as he pressed her forward into walkway out from under the awning. She tensed up as she heard the drops of water dripping onto the umbrella. But then relaxed as she realized they weren’t going to ruin her hair.
He walked quickly but surely. Matching her pace. Perfect sync and rhythm. He walked her through the dusky darkness as the lights started to come on around them. He moved her firmly around the puddles that formed in the path before them. He crossed the street. Then walked her straight up through the square to the following corner.
It was a perfect moment. One of the most perfect moment she had ever experienced. The lighting around her. The flowers around her. The scent of the rain in the grass and on the warm asphalt around them. The same asphalt that had been beaten by the sun all day. Now being washed clean. Cool. Refreshed.
That was how she felt now. Refreshed. Clean. Beautiful.
It was a moment that she never wanted to end.
Two lovers walking through a park on a lovely evening.
That was how she imagined them.
This was the kind of man she wanted to be with.
The kind of man she had always wanted to find.
They made it to the subway entrance and walked briskly down the steps. Once they were safely at the bottom of the stairs and deep inside, he stopped. He tilted the umbrella a little to one side. She loosened her grip. He gave it a short twirl. The droplets spun off in a circle around them. A few drops hit someone beside them. The person turned and scowled. The man smiled apologetically and shrugged. The person moved on.
“Go ahead and move off to that side. Your hair is safe.” he said with a smile.
“Thank you,” she said without moving.
Eve didn’t quite know how to thank this fine, gorgeous man who had just saved her hair. She really wanted to grab him and kiss him. But that probably wouldn’t be very appropriate. Maybe a hug. He didn’t make any move to step away from her which she took as a good sign. Or maybe he just didn’t want to get her hair wet and was waiting for her to move out of the way before closing it. In the end, she reached out and touched his arm lightly. He smiled and bowed his head slightly. She stepped off to the side. Out from under his umbrella. Out from under his protection. She didn’t know why she felt so safe there, and then so vulnerable once she moved out from under it. She saw her subway arriving, but still made no move to leave. The next one would be along in twelve minutes. There was no rush. Well, there was. But she wasn’t going to be the one to leave first.
The man didn’t seem to be in any big hurry either. She took that as a good sign. He stood there still holding the umbrella over his head underground. It probably did seem a bit silly to anyone just coming down the steps. It would definitely be an interesting scene. They both stood there for a full minute. Neither seeming to want to leave. Looking deep into each others eyes. Each trying to think of something smart to say. Not wanting to say anything. Afraid to spoil the moment. Afraid to say something silly.
She saw the C train coming up the tracks. Eve smiled and nodded toward the tracks.
“I think that’s for you,” she said softly.
He looked over and nodded in acknowledgement.
“Well then. Guess I had better get going. I don’t want to hold you up either for your party.” he said with a smile.
He stepped away from her as he folded up his umbrella so he wouldn’t get her wet. He held it off to the side away from her and shook it gently. He reached into his pocket for his subway card.
“Good bye,” he said.
He smiled. A warm, beautiful, energetic smile that made her forget the rain. Forget her bills. Forget her commitment. Forget everything.
“Take me with you,” she wanted to scream. To beg. To plead.
But she didn’t. That wouldn’t be right. Wouldn’t be appropriate. So, she just raised her hand and waved.
“Thank you for saving my hair,” she said.
He nodded and turned to leave. Stepped though the turnstiles. Her heart caught in her throat as he passed his card and walked on through to the other side. He half-turned. Smiled and waved. Then walked towards the open doors of the waiting cars.
Suddenly, she realized what she was about to lose.
“Wait!” she half-shouted.
Eve grabbed her purse and pawed through it looking for her card. Found it. Swiped it. Pushed her way through the turnstiles too. The man turned and looked back at her as she ran toward him.
“Call me sometime,” she said breathlessly.
She winced as she said it. It sounded half-pleading. Desperate. She hated sounding desperate. Especially to a man she had just met.
He looked back over his shoulder at the sound of the closing doors.
“I’d love to talk with you more sometime. Maybe take another walk with you. Have a coffee. That is, if you want to.” she stammered on a bit awkwardly but picking up her pace and courage as she continued.
He smiled widely.
“Sure. I’d love to.” he replied.
“You would? So, why didn’t you tell me that earlier and ask for my number?” she complained.
“You’re a beautiful woman. Hair done up on a Friday night. I assumed you were off to meet your man.” he said with a goofy shrug.
Eve wanted to slug him.
“Don’t assume things. Just ask. It’s just some stupid company party. I was hoping for a promotion. Trying to suck up to the boss. But it’s a stupid idea. I hate him and I hate the company anyway. I’d rather spend some time with you. That walk through the square back there with you through the rain was wonderful. I’d do it again anytime. I’d do it right now with you even without the umbrella.”
The man smiled broadly. Straightened his shoulders. The edges of his eyes crinkled warmly. His his brightened.
“I was just going home for the night to my two calico cats and a golden retriever. But they can wait a bit longer. I won’t be able to walk the dog tonight in this rain anyway.”
He held out his arm. She took it. They walked back through the turnstiles to the exit. He paused at the edge of the steps to pop open his umbrella. Tilted it to the side for her to step under. Put his arm around her as she stepped towards him. Then walked her up the steps out into the cool, damp breeze.
They walked back through the park. They walked through several more along the way to his house. He introduced her to his cats and dog. Then they walked through several more parks on the way to her house. She dropped off her purse and changed her sandals. Slipped into something a little more comfortable.
They kept walking down through several more parks. Stopped for coffee along the way. They passed the building where her company was meeting. She laughed at the thought of all her colleagues all sucking up to the man they hated. Hoping for a raise they probably wouldn’t get. Then they kept on walking all through the night. Laughing and talking under his big, black umbrella. Under the trees. Under the lamp posts. In the rain.
None of the rain drops ever actually landed in her hair. But the wind and humidity soon made a mess of it. She complained once after coming out of a bathroom at a coffee shop. He just smiled and said she looked even more beautiful then when they first met.
They kept on walking till the crack of dawn. He finally stopped at the edge of a park overlooking a lake. Still holding his umbrella open over her head. The rain had long since stopped. Her hair was a total mess after getting whipped in the wind.
Eve pushed the umbrella away. He shook the last remaining drops off gently and closed it. Tossed it to the side. Placed his hands on her waist and turned her toward him. Kissed her full on the lips as the sun came blazing over the horizon signalling the start of beautiful, new day.