”May I open that one for you?”
The voice is friendly and the gesture accompanied by it conscious and balanced. He clearly knows what he is doing.
“I’ve got the bottle opener right here. But thanks, anyway.”
I turn him down, although that self-confidence of his feels appealing to me. He doesn’t seem to mind my refusal.
As the cork falls off and meets the table with a distinct ‘clink!’, I see him nod in an approval. Strong and independent woman, I think to myself and smile. How he analyzes my smile I don’t know but at least it makes him lean in closer – not to look at me but at the bottle.
It is a Japanese beer, blonde in color, its scent thick. Earlier that day, when I had walked to the liquor store without knowing what I was searching for, my eyes had focused on this specific beer for two reasons. First, the owl was cute and reminded me of those zen-like Japanese fish that swim in ponds in a peaceful manner. And second, it was the last bottle of its kind which made me think it had to be good.
“Is that your only drink for the night?”
The voice is still friendly and I can’t read any kind of judgment in-between the lines. Even his eyes are friendly, simply curious on my choice of drink for the evening. I nod.
“I prefer quality over quantity”, I say.
A short chuckle tells me he is amused by my comment which most likely means he has understood my point. Every few minutes I can hear someone opening yet another beer can, the distinct ‘tss–kr-POP’, and the laughter spirited by mass-produced lager fills the room.
I take a sip of my Japanese beer. It’s a strong one but I like the taste. Without thinking about it, I offer the bottle to the stranger who has a friendly voice, conscious gestures and a curious look. He takes it, thanks for the offer and takes a sip.
“It’s good”, he says. “You have good taste in beer.”
I give him a short nod and a smile.
“This owl… it reminds me of Japanese koi. Do you know them?” He continues without waiting for an answer. “Did you know that they have an average lifespan of 40 years? The age can be determined by testing the Koi’s scales because they produce growth rings like trees.”
He’s good, I must admit that. He knows precisely the right words to say to get my attention, to keep me from turning my back to him and leaving in order to search for another quiet corner in the room.
So, I stay put. Take another sip, give him another nod and a smile.
That’s seems to be all he needs. And that’s all I need.