December 9, 2010

The Stranger

I decided to take a break, and headed to the cafeteria. As I sat down with my cup of coffee, I thought about the pressure that my boyfriend had been putting on me lately to take the next step in our relationship. I wasn't sure if I was ready for that.

From the corner of my eye I saw this guy approaching my table. "May I join you?" he asked, grinning widely. Well, why not, I thought. A casual chat may help me take this load off my mind, even if only for a short while. Without waiting for my answer, he sat down in front of me.

"Would you like to talk about it? It look likes sharing your problem with someone could help."

I was taken aback. How did he know? Was it that obvious from my face?

"Who the hell are you?"

"I am John Carpenter. I used to work here as the public relations manager."

"Really? Sheila in PR is a good friend of mine. Does she know you?"

"Everyone knew me when I was working here, but no one will recognize me now."

"When did you leave the company?"

"A long time ago. Tell me, what's worrying you?"

Well, it's unlikely that I'll meet this guy ever again. "You see, my boyfriend..." I began hesitantly.

"He wants you to take the next step, right?"

I was taken aback. "How did you..."

"They all do, it's a common story. But, it's wrong, you know."

"What is wrong..."

"You must not yield to the pressure. Sex before marriage is a terrible mistake," he deadpanned.

I was annoyed. "Look here, John, whoever you are," I said with an unmistakable edge in my voice, "you seem to have some outlandish views about relationships. I am not sure if I want to talk to you anymore."

"But, you must. Your parents have sent me here to talk to you."

I was aghast.

"What? My parents sent you? They don't even know that I have a boyfriend!"

"Yes, but they think that you may have one. Sex before marriage is a definite no, and your parents agree. Your grand parents, too."

"My grandparents are dead, and my parents have no business dictating my sex life. Much less, you."

"Does your boyfriend have a mustache?"

"Uh... What if he does? Why do you care? "

"You should not date men with mustaches. They are bad guys. Didn't your parents ever tell you that?

"I wouldn't have given a damn if they had."

"Does he like pop music, too?"

"Of course, he does. And, so do I."

"I knew it! You should shun pop music, at once. Say you are sorry, and promise me that you'll only listen to classical music hereafter. Besides, you cannot take anyone who listens to other kinds of music as you husband."

My annoyance with the guy was turning into amusement. "You are being ridiculous. My dad loves punk rock, my mom is into heavy metal, and they are both doing fine, thank you."

"What's your boy friend's shoe size?"

"Nine, why?"

"What ever you do, don't marry a size 9. Size 8.5 is the most suitable one for you."

"Says who? Look, I am getting tired of this conversation. I am sorry that I allowed myself to be drawn into this," I said angrily, and got up to leave.

"Please, just a couple of more minutes. You see this book, it's all written down here. You must not have sex before marriage, a man should not sport a mustache, you must listen only to classical music... and a lot more. Please read the book, and do as it says."

"And, what if I don't?"

"Terrible things will happen to you and your family. You'll die in an earthquake, your husband will become HIV positive, your children will be born schizophrenic, and your parents' home in New Orleans will be destroyed by another Katrina," John thundered. "It's all written in the book. Here, take it, it's free."

"Yeah, right. Next, you'll ask me to believe that Santa Claus brings gifts from the North Pole in a flying reindeer cart, and a stork left me at the doorsteps of my parents' home! What kind of a fool wrote this book?"

"I wrote the book."

"Of course, you did. Stupid me!" I started to walk away.

"Wait! You may think of me as a fool, and I forgive you for that, but a wise man I met several years ago dictated the entire book to me. You must believe every word of his."

"Wise man, eh? What's his name? Where did you meet him?"

"Wise man is his name. I met him on the top of Mount Everest."

"Was there anyone else?"

"No. Only the wise man and I."

"Just as I thought. Goodbye, stranger. Next time, find someone with the same IQ as yours, OK? And, hey, thanks for the book, it'll come in handy for starting a fire."


Inspired by a real life incident in which a Hindu god-man ruined the life of a girl I knew, and the timeless classic, " John and Mary Pay a Visit (Hank's ass)"

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