It was 7:30pm, and I was walking briskly towards the exit of a local Chapters book store.
As I neared, I passed the built-in Starbucks on my left, and reminded myself to keep avoiding those places like the plague. Everyone in there should be made to display a real life Status, I thought, just like they do on Facebook. “Looking to Show Off My Latest Wiz-Bang Gadget in Public;” “Creepin’ University Chicks;” “Pretending to Write a Novel So Other Failed Local Authors Can Ask Me ‘Whatcha Working on There?’ Thus Providing an Excuse to Talk About Myself, Even Though I Know it Will Never, in a Million Years, Be Finished.”
You know, that sort of thing.
“The plague,” I said to myself, suddenly chuckling.
I was remembering the time I worked with a guy whose last name was something similar: Lague.
This guy was English in every way except his surname, and he always insisted that because it was of French origin, anyone who pronounced it “Laig” was in the wrong. At first I thought he was joking, but no – it came up all the time.
“Man!” I remember him saying one day. “Jeff did it again a minute ago! I don’t understand, you know? Why can’t anyone get it right?!”
“…get what right?” I asked him, looking up from my game of Solitaire.
“My name! It’s pronounced Luh-Gwee!”
“Nick, I want you to do me a favour,” I told him, grabbing a piece of paper and scrawling a single word on it. “Read that aloud to me.”
I was confident he would now see my point of view, along with everyone else’s.
He examined the paper a moment.
I had written P L A G U E in block letters with a blue ballpoint.
He then pursed his lips, and, fully expecting him to concede the point, he instead responded in perfect deadpan:
We then howled in laughter until some busybody poked her head out of her cube like a Meerkat and told us to shut up.
Wait, weren’t you in a book store a minute ago or something? Damn you and your wandering thoughts!
Yes, I was moving my way towards the doors when I saw him! Albert…fucking…Einstein was sitting in the Starbucks! I couldn’t believe it! I could see that even at a distance, Professor Einstein had fallen in with the “Hipster” crowd, and was dressed rather eccentrically. Then again, the man always was a little eccentric, famously choosing not to comb his hair and even opting to “shave dry” rather than lather up, reasoning that it “saved time.”
I made my left and immediately started walking as casually as I could, hoping only I could sense how incongruous a 90-degree turn out of a speed-walk and into a “stroll” was.
*Whistling* Nothin’ to see here folks — just a local lunatic!
I bought a coffee and then sat down at the table furthest from Einstein, reasoning that he was most likely deep in thought, and possibly working on a theory to determine what F equals.
He probably has people walking up to him all day, wanting to have their picture taken with him, I thought. Don’t bother him.
…though I didn’t see the harm in pretending to text while taking photos from a distance. Not if I was subtle about it.
I slipped into character. I needed these photos for King and Country, and in this deadly game of espionage, if the Germans knew I was scoping one of their top scientists for my report, I could end up with a bullet from a 9mm Luger in the back of my neck! So when I took out my iPhone and aimed it at him, I made sure to do it…carefully.
When Einstein appeared on the screen and I zoomed in on him, I instantly started chuckling. A half dozen people looked up from their lap tops at me and I stopped and let my smile fade.
I simply pretended as though I had read a funny text, but now had to respond seriously.
No, sir! That was inappropriate and I will not stand for that kind of talk! *Tappa-tappa-tappa!*
I think I fooled the room with the ruse and got back to the task at hand, snapping the first of three photos:
No one had noticed. It was all going perfectly to plan.
Just as I was raising the camera to take another shot though, something unexpected — the flash went off!
Everyone stared at me. I was the only guy not drinking his coffee, I realized, so I took a quick sip as my mind raced for something – anything! I had to think fast.
“Can you believe these stupid things?” I said, gesturing at the device. “Ever since Steve Jobs croaked, the whole company’s gone to shit, eh folks?!”
After a moment, everyone looked back to their own screens. I was glad that no one was on to me. Perhaps I could make a real career out of being a spy? The thought amused me.
One more photo though, I thought, raising the phone to take another, when:
No one but Einstein.
I think the guy’s a genius or something.