I felt completely out of place, but Jorge really wanted to go.
Within moments of entering into a shop that looked like an episode of Hoarders, Jorge disappeared in the stacks of paper thin books that were carefully slipped in between a white cardboard backing and a clear plastic film. Rather than follow him into the depths of Superman or the Hulk, I chose to stick near the toys close to the door. I knew about action figures. I had played with them growing up.
I remember inhaling the stale smell of the comic book shop that mixed with the smokey New York “right-above-the-subway-grate” odor every time the glass door opened. I wasn’t really looking at the action figures. I was more like standing there next to something that was familiar. In the crowded store, where more people were browsing than buying, I dodged backpacks and shopping bags that nicked my sleeveless arms whenever someone tried to fit more than 2 people into an aisle.
I could feel him next to me. He stood there, admiring the action figures, but lingering. I glanced over at him, giving him my hardest New York City “if you’re creepy, back off” look.
“Do you like Star Wars?” he asked.
“Excuse me?” I sounded more confused than angry and turned my head slightly to the side to look at him. He seemed “normal” in that kind of geeky, comic book guy way.
“Do you like Star Wars?” he repeated, his voice shaky, as he pointed at the packages of Han Solos and Death Stars hanging in neat rows from display hooks in front of me.
“Um, I dunno. Sure. I guess.” I mean, who doesn’t like Star Wars?
Not wanting to move away from the door, I turned my head around to look for Jorge but couldn’t find him. I stayed put. There was no way I was venturing further into the store to go find him. I didn’t move.
Neither did he.
I heard him inhale deeply, and I wondered whether he tasted the staleness of the comic book shop or the pungent NY subway steam.
“Well,” he began.
“You’re, um,” he continued.
“Well, um … you’re much prettier than Princess Leia,” the final part of his sentence moving faster than the A-train express.
I have never been one to yell in a grocery store or even draw any attention to myself in a public crowd. I hated people who did that.
“JORGE? JORGE VEGA! IT IS TIME TO GO!!” as I became one of those people. I felt the humid New York City air hit my face.
I’m not sure how long it was before Jorge darted out of the store and onto the sidewalk where I was standing. Probably seconds. It felt like minutes.
“What happened?? Are you okay??” he asked quickly.
I retold the story, horrified. Jorge doubled over in laughter, grabbing his stomach and stumbling down the sidewalk yelling for me to wait for him.
He finally caught up to me and put his arm around my shoulders.
“Liza, you’ve finally arrived. You’ve been hit on by a comic book geek.”
I walked away smiling, knowing that it was actually the second time.
The first guy was my future husband.
Peace, love, and Princess Leia,