by Paul Beckman
“What do you collect?” he opened the conversation with.
“I don’t collect anything,” she told him.
“Not possible,” he said, “everyone collects something.”
“You mean like coins or stamps?”
“There are other things to collect—less common things. I have a friend who collects belly-button lint and each night he puts it in a baggie and labels it with the date and location,” he said.
“Location, isn’t that redundant?” she asked.
“Well, if he collects navel lint the location is always the same—from his navel. Right?”
“Well, the lint is, but sometimes he may be in different places like New York or Quito or a birthday party or even a bar and that’s the location he writes down,” he explained, his fist hovering, trying not to bang it on the table with each location emphasizing his frustration.
“Why didn’t you just say that?” she says lifting her hands—palms up. “Maybe I’ll start collecting confusing and ambiguous things that guys say in these speed dating sessions.”
“Okay, there you go with your first collection.”
“What about you?” she asked. “What do you collect?”
“I have many collections—too many to name.”
“Just name one—that’s all I’m asking for since you brought the subject up and we only have twenty seconds left.”
“I collect inane conversations that I have in bars,” he told her.
“That’s a good one but it sounds like it would be difficult.”
“Nice meeting you.”
“You too,” she said.
And just as she was getting up he pushed the off button on his micro-recorder in his shirt pocket and pulled a baggie from inside his sports coat. Walking to the next table, he undid a button on his shirt front and slid his hand inside—fingers probing.
published 9 October 2013