Approachability is something I’ve never researched, but I have it. (Adding it to the “one of these days I’ll read about __________” list.)
Having it puts you in a lot of interesting situations if you agree to get into them, like letting a guy you just met throw you a magic show birthday party.
I invited a handful of people, including my sister and a few of her friends. It was a mixed crowd: underagers, my sarcastic high school crew that I still kept in touch with, and his movie industry post production friends.
This guy was a real kind gent from a no name town in Oregon, only wore plaid shirts with khakis, and always paid.
I ended our acquaintanceship when the hugs got too long, when my neck got too tired from turning to avoid his kisses, when the phone calls were too many, and the voicemails too long.
It still bugs me today how I went silent on him. I never gave him a reason; I just stopped answering.
He was so excited to have visitors and pulled out all the stops: decorated, bought food and beer – even dressed up in a cape and top hat for the magic show he was going to put on.
Platters of every food group turned the ebonized dining table into a surface of glazed stoneware and stainless steel. I had sold him the “Baby Grand” and “Camille” chairs. Oak veneer anchored six upholstered dining chairs, covered in richly colored velvets, with names like “Wasabi” and “Persimmon.” They were the newest, shiniest things in his small, Burbank apartment.
I don’t have anything in my home that reminds me of that magician, but for several years I did. When we first met, we agreed to exchange pieces of art. Butterflies were the subject matter and he had a very specific idea in mind. He wanted butterflies to be sitting in a library reading.
I worked on it for several months. It was “cute” – not at all my style and nothing I would have ever created on my own. The unfinished piece sat in my closet for a long time, as a reminder to pick up the phone and give a proper “goodbye.” I never did. One day it became painful to look at that bag in the closet and I threw it away.
Everyone eventually showed up. He socialized for awhile, long enough to turn into a nervous wreck after watching minors drink alcohol in his apartment, then disappeared for a costume change. When he came out, his premature balding was concealed under a black top hat and his plaid and khaki peeked though a black and red satin cape.
Yes. There was a wand.
I don’t remember how he made us “Ooooo” and “Ahhhhh” – I don’t think he did, actually – tough crowd – but I remember clapping and cheering every time his hands or cap moved. Twenty one year old can be cold and expressionless when they’re trying to act cool. Someone had to build up the energy.
Like most parties, this one was a parabola and the fall lead to the vertex of gift giving. A book about interior design was placed in my grasp. There was an inscription on the inside front cover. I already owned the book and he could tell from my face. He snapped it from my hands and stuttered an offer to exchange it or get me something else. “Oh, no. No, no, no. You hardly know me and yet you know me so well you got a book I already own. That’s such a compliment. I want to keep it – if only for the personal message.”
I don’t remember what it said and I don’t know where that book is. The magic was gone and the realism had settled in. The party was over.
“I’m so sad. Everyone’s leaving. You guys don’t want to stay?”