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The Meet Cute..Just My Imagination?

Instagram: @dragon_subway

California Dreaming

I daydream a lot, whether it's traveling, getting a big job, or winning the lottery. 30 years ago, I was filming 'Eternamente Manuela,' my first soap opera in Cali, Colombia. After we'd wrapped for the day, my friend David dragged me to a casino even though I can't stand gambling. He gave me a chip and I won two hundred thousand pesos at black jack, which back then was the equivalent of around 250 American dollars. You could say all three things I dreamt up happened: the travel, the job, and free money.

I have not been as successful dreaming up my soulmate. That doesn't stop me from dreaming. When my mind drifts, I imagine tripping on the sidewalk; the guy helps me up. I'm in a restaurant; a handsome man at the next table makes an obnoxious remark and I tear into him in my charming, inimitable way. He apologizes, instantly taken with me. I see a celebrity running on the side of the road. I stop to rescue him; he turns into the love of my life. They're all scenarios I’ve seen in movies. The last one doesn't work because I'd never pick someone up in my car, even if it was Hugh Jackman. Well maybe I'd bend the rules for Hugh. But I digress.

There is actually a name for this, it’s called the meet cute. According to google, 'In a film or television show, it's an amusing or charming first encounter between two characters that leads to the development of a romantic relationship between them.' When I saw the fabulous Eli Wallach describe the term to Kate Winslet in 'The Holiday,' I finally understood that I had subliminally incorporated years of watching rom coms into my daydreaming. I'm a sucker for the genre of happy ever after.

"In a film or television show, a meet cute is an amusing or charming first encounter between two characters that leads to the development of a romantic relationship between them.'

Maybe this time...

I am on my way home, having just come from an audition. I am looking forward to my usual multitask habit: grabbing some nosh while sitting down to write. I turn into a strip mall that has a Mendocino Farms eatery. I am eyeing a parking spot, trying to decide whether my car will fit, when I spot a tall, slim, salt and pepper haired man. He's wearing a short sleeved grey tee shirt, showing just enough muscle. He seems kind and intelligent. I didn't see entire face but that doesn't matter; I'll just assign those qualities to him anyway. He is carrying his laptop into a cafe. Perfect. This means he is working on something. I am working on something. Mendocino's with their delicious sandwiches beckons but a potential meet cute is calling me. I quickly turn and park next to his grey Tesla. My brain does a millisecond scan: I realize I have three grey sweaters at home. We will have no problem matching on the weekends. Rational mind has left the stable and deranged dreaming mind is galloping. I wonder if this cafe will be good. I am usually a 'check it out on yelp, cross reference on google, then look at the reviews,' type of gal. Following a guy into a restaurant is also new behavior but I'm going to roll with it.

Booth tables are on the left, counter on the right. Lots of choices and I am hungry. The Angus burger sounds inviting, I'll try that. I haven't had meat in a while. There's an empty table with an outlet behind it. But salt and pepper is sitting in a booth in the back. I know, I'll sit across from him at that high table. I walk past him nonchalantly with the intention of looking out the window to enjoy nature. As I get closer, I realize it's a dirty backyard with an old truck, no view. I quickly readjust by climbing up on the chair and settling in right across from him. Just one problem: no outlet. I climb back down. Salt and pepper is completely focused on his laptop. Of course he is, he's here to work. As I should be. I skulk back with the little stand with my order number to sit in the front. He is three tables away but his body is turned toward the front. I go to sit in the booth and freeze. There's a terrible smell, that rancid combination of disinfectant and vomit that industrial cleaners tend to have. Maybe I should take this burger to goh, it's already too much trouble. No, I can't lose face now. I'm a serious person and I'm going to stick it out and write. My booth has three sides to it so I slide over; it doesn't smell as much over here. The bonus? He is directly in my eye line.

I type away and a few minutes later, my burger arrives. There's only ketchup at the table so I get up to ask for mustard. If I could, I would put mustard on everything, it's the best condiment on the planet. I look to my right as I walk back. Salt and pepper is still looking down at his screen. The burger does not disappoint. I'm about to take another bite when I notice a short, attractive guy with a suede coat and jeans checking me out. Oh no, do I have mustard all over my face? I discreetly wipe my mouth. Nope, napkin's clean. He looks over again. interesting. He leaves soon after giving me a third and fourth glance. Zero looks from the gentleman three tables down.

I am on a roll typing furiously when I hear someone ordering loudly at the counter. An ancient white-haired hippie slides into the booth next to me, blocking my view of salt and pepper. Ugh. I move over slightly and focus on my screen. Now hippie dude has his phone on speaker so everyone in the restaurant can hear him. And he keeps looking over. Same thing I've been doing this whole time. I like to type with my eyes closed and every time I open them, there he is, glancing over. No God, this is not how I wanted to manifest a meet cute. Remove him, please.

No Meet Cute To-Go

"Dear, can i get some more olive oil"? Hippie dude is calling out to the waitress while Julio Iglesias can be heard singing 'Me Olvide de Vivir.' That's my cue to leave. I am shutting down my deranged, dreaming mind that thinks salt and pepper will ever come over. While waiting for my to-go latte, I am forced to witness hippie dude with no chin dipping chunks of avocado toast into a plate of olive oil. OMG, salt and pepper is looking over! I just can't tell if he's looking at me or the door. I saunter past him to use the restroom before I go. Maybe this time...nope. Not even a glance. As the song goes, 'It was just my imagination...running away with me.'

Learn more about the artist, @dragon_subway:

To watch the meet cute scene in "The Holiday:'

Pilar Uribe
Pilar Uribe is an actor and voice talent, known for Yo soy Betty, la fea (1999), Wonderguy (1993) and Second Extinction (2020). Catch Pilar in video games, feature films, and tv shows + follow on Instagram and YouTube for more...


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