“Since when are you interested in eagles”, Charlie asks, as he gazes through my eagle book.
It is the weekend, and Charlie has driven to Auburn to spend it with me. I had been getting ready to go out to dinner, and Charlie had paced around the hotel room. His eyes had spotted the book on my drawer, and now he is standing next to my bed admiring the photos of different eagles. “I guess you don’t know everything about me”, I reply.
“You know what is an interesting fact about bald eagles? Even if they have a mate, a pair of eagles may choose not to reproduce, because there aren’t enough resources to have babies. That’s similar to the way many Americans think, and the bald eagle is a symbol of America.”
“Since when are you an expert on eagles?”
“Well, how do you think I spent my days before I met you?”
“Apparently learning bird facts to seduce women.”
“Don’t scoff. Knowledge, and form of knowledge, is a great seducing tool.”
“Oh yes. It doesn’t matter how prosaic the topic is, but if a person is an expert on a specific subject, they have the same advantage as a poet.”
“So you’re saying that if a man talks knowledgeably about plumbing, he has the same advantage as a man reading a Shakespearean sonnet?”
“If he presents it correctly, presentation is key.”
“Since when have you become an expert on the art of seduction?”
“What makes you think you know everything about me”, Charlie asks coyly, as he walks up to me, and gives me a kiss on the cheek.
We are at a restaurant, eating dinner with Charlie’s parents. Elaine is talking about Al’s current girlfriend. “She’s really nice and sweet, but she reminds me of his first wife, and we all remember how that turned out.” As Elaine talks, I become immersed in my own thoughts.
Although raised differently, Sam, Al, and Charlie have very similar personalities. It really makes me want to support nature, in the nature vs. nurture debate. Don and Elaine favor Sam over Al. Even Charlie, who only talks to his brothers on birthdays and holidays, admires Sam more.” He’s such a good role model; I always regretted that we weren’t closer. But Al, well Al is Al”, Charlie told me once. I, however, prefer Al.
Sam is forty-two, a successful computer programmer, married for twenty years, and has three lovely children. He’s the type of guy who wins man of the year award. Al is forty-one, and although he recently got a job managing a restaurant, he spent the majority of his life working minimum wage jobs. His track record includes four divorces, two children, and a total of six months in rehab facilities. Al is my favorite brother-in-law, because despite the fact that life has thrown him against the ground plenty of times, he still has the same cheerful deposition as his brothers.
I watch Charlie talk to his mom. I am all of a sudden struck by a realization that I had not missed him the past week. I am glad that he came to visit, although most of my gladness stems from the fact that he is leaving tomorrow.
“Do you think there is a limit to the amount of times a person can get married in a lifetime”, Charlie ponders out loud.
” I don’t think he’ll marry this one, at most she’ll become a live in girlfriend”, Elaine says.
“Having five wives, that’s quite a talent”, Charlie adds.
“Maybe that’s his expertise”, I say.
“Or maybe, single women at that age are desperate”, Charlie replies.
“The only women who are desperate at that age, are the ones who are married”, I reply back.
“Everybody is desperate, some people just hide it better than others”, Don says, and his statement forces all of us into a moment of silence.
It’s Thursday, and I am visiting the used bookstore for the fourth time. The gorgeous cashier observes me, as I wander through the aisles. “I’ve been seeing you a lot here lately”, he says.
“Don’t worry, I don’t live in Auburn, I just happened to be here for work, and I’m leaving soon.”
“I am not complaining, just making an observation.” He takes out a box of chicken nuggets from under the counter.
“I should probably offer my most frequent customer some chicken”
“Isn’t it against the rules to eat next to the cash register?”
“It might me, but since I’m the owner of the store, whose going to reprimand me.”
“You own this store?”
“Yup, I inherited it from my dad. So, you want some chicken?”
“My name’s Mike Caulden, what’s yours?”
“What your profession?”
“I’m an accountant.”
“Wow, so do you like numbers?”
“Do you like books?”
“You put me in a really bad spot with that question; because any answer I give I come out unintelligent. If I say that I like books, it proves that I asked you a stupid question. However, if I say I don’t like books, well that doesn’t make me sound smart either. So, I’m in a bind.”
“Are you trying to flirt with me?”
“Yes, and apparently I’m horrible at it. Why don’t I take you out on a formal date, that way I can show you some of my more advanced flirting skills.”
“I’m leaving tomorrow.”
“Well you’re here now.”
“I’m married.” I lift up my left hand to offer proof.
“I’m sorry I didn’t notice.”
“It’s ok, most of the time, I forget I’m married.”
“Really”, he asks curiously.
“I almost got married once.”
“My fiancé got a job in Texas. I didn’t want to leave my store behind, so we split up.”
“Do you regret it?”
“Sometimes, but most days I think that if I truly loved her, I would have followed her to Texas. So maybe the job offer was a blessing in disguise.”
“I don’t understand how a person can have that strong of an attachment to a place.”
“Maybe that was just an excuse, maybe the real reason is that I don’t like change.”
“Than you’re going to hate growing old.”
“Who doesn’t hate growing old?”
“I have to go, it was nice meeting you.”
“If you’re ever in town again, we should have lunch, as friends. I promise no inappropriate behavior.”
“According to Harry and Sally men and women can’t be friends.”
“Well, we’re going to have to prove that theory wrong.”
My cell phone rings. I wave goodbye to Mike, as I walk outside to answer it. “Are you done with dinner” Charlie’s voice asks from inside the phone. “Yeah”, I answer. “I’m driving towards the hotel .” I drive back to my hotel, chatting with Charlie, and Amy Miller’s face is flashing before my eyes.