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If you play it cool, you’ll get nowhere

Open Space
Derek Franz
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

There is a lot of lost love out there in the sea of people as they bustle about.

Apparently there are always these little moments among us where that elusive treasure hatches to life and then falls dead under trampling feet ” too late. Proof of this is found in “The City Weekly” newspaper of Salt Lake City, in a section called, “I Saw You.”

People regretting missed chances write in anonymously, hoping the beautiful strangers they bumped into on the elevator will notice and respond. At the bottom of the ad is a date and place where the meeting occurred. “You: Woman. Me: Woman” and other such combinations then provide final clues regarding the strangers’ identities.



The page fascinated me and I ripped it out for later use. So many faces and places, sad and happy, popped into my mind ” 33 love tragedies told in short-hand on half a page on one day ” I couldn’t make this stuff up.

“Asked me for a cigarette after signing,” was the first line to catch my eye. “You looked a little emo, a photographer? The only girl in a group of three guys, next to you at the beginning of the show, wearing ripped jeans and a tank top. When: Tuesday, January 20 … Where: concert and signing. You: Man. Me: Woman.”



Ghosts suddenly took to a stage before me and I saw their story. I couldn’t hear their exact words but I knew the script well enough. Strangers brushed by chance. A flick of light ” then darkness, routine ” both of them recede back to the same gray cracks from whence they came. I saw the whole story before me, an image expanding from simple sentences like a budding universe.

A man stands at the edge of a crowd. On stage, a musician falls to his knees in the midst of an impressive solo, fingers flying across the frets, but the man in the crowd steals glances of a woman next to him. Had she just looked at him a second earlier? Unlikely ” she was with three guys. The man catches a whiff of her candy-girl smell. Sweet. He wants to bury his nose on top of her head between her black pig tails and wrap his arms around her waist. He sways with the crowd but doesn’t move a step closer. Thinking, thinking of a way to bridge the gap … how? No way. That stuff never happens, he thinks ” a girl with three dudes is not interested in meeting another one at random. The show ends. He’s sure he’s seen the last of her. Oh, well. At the signing, however, she turns up next to him again, her little Tasmanian Devil tattoo winking at him from her waistline. His pulse flutters at the ambush ” he’s got to say something! “Got a cigarette?” She grins, unzipping her tiny purse. “Yeah,” holding out a pack of menthols. She holds a lighter for him. Their eyes meet but he doesn’t know what else to say. “Thanks.” He looks down, turns slowly and walks out, wishing he knew at least one more thing to say. A trail of tobacco smoke fades in his wake. Her green eyes follow the back of his head as he shuffles for the door. She bites her bottom lip: A spark … gone.

The Beatles begin to sing in my head when I read this stuff (“look at all the lonely people …”). These scenarios happen all the time, even in my own life.

I was applying for a job at The Cheese Factory in Longmont last Tuesday. A gorgeous blond girl took my application, noticing my recent occupations as a journalist. Turns out she was also a writer, having worked in Vail at one point. We had a lot in common and we talked and laughed easily. Soon I felt a need to be going, however, and she walked me to the door: “See you later,” exchanging smiles and waves. Then I realized I never got her number ” I would not be seeing her. Idiot! As strange as it felt, I went back to the store with my contact info printed on a sticky note. It would be silly to miss out on something good because I was too embarrassed to admit I was attracted to her. I slid the note across the table. She blushed with an apologetic smile that suggested she already had a boyfriend. We smiled and waved one more time and I quickly pushed back out the door, none the poorer.

Oh, well. At least I don’t have to write a classified, wondering what could have been.

There’s a lot of love that doesn’t have to be lost, my fellow people. Don’t be so shy you let the moment pass you by.

Derek Franz is learning to enjoy the thrill of harmless embarrassment. He can be reached at rockgripper8000@yahoo.com.


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