Originally published June, 1995
Café Wim was my favourite place to be in Ottawa. I hung out there long before it was trendy. I drank my first real beer there, an import behemoth called Chimay - a Belgian 12% alcohol beer that kicked you pretty strong (prior to that, I drank stuff like Labatts Blue and Molson Canadian). I had my first cappuccino at Wim. I had my first espresso at Wim. I honed my backgammon skills at Wim. Wim was the kind of place where people didn't judge you, no matter what your political social, or sexual preferences were. I loved that place.
But my story today talks about love at first sight. It happened at Wim. On a typical afternoon after work, I was sitting at Wim enjoying a café au lait, reading the paper, when the most beautiful woman I have ever seen walked in. She sat down with her friends, and started doing the typical things people do in cafes - she started chatting and enjoying her coffee. I studied her intensely, and to this day, can still picture her in my mind. She had long brown hair, flowing over her shoulders. She was fairly tall at 5 9, and her face had straight Gaelic lines to them. She had a small mouth, with pert lips, and the most amazing set of liquid green eyes I have ever seen. My jaw must have dropped the moment she came in, because my friend Dave looked at me strange, and she looked over my way, and smiled.
I quickly averted my eyes, and tried to go back to reading my paper. But I couldn't. I studied her. I listened to her conversation, and quickly found out that she was involved in social issues, and that she had a real brain. She was so passionate about her thoughts, her arguments, and her voice was pure joy to my ears. We sat there for hours that day, me feigning the reading of my paper, her and her friends chatting away, and I couldn't get her out of my mind. After a while, she left. I was sad.
Two days later, in my typical Wim spot by the window, she came in again, this time alone. She faced away from me. Oh crushed heart! She was reading one of my favourite books, The Trial. I was hooked. I spent about a half hour trying to build up the confidence to go over to her… after all, this was Wim, where strangers often intermingled over games of backgammon and various esoterical discussions. Just as I was about to stand up, and head over, she turned in her chair slightly, so she was at a 1 / 4 profile to me. Her eyes caught mine, and she smiled once again. I was like a little schoolboy! But I couldn't go over, not now! So, the coward I was, I paid my bill, and left.
I didn't see her at Wim for about a week, though I went there every day. Wim himself noticed events, and later commented to me that I looked like a sick puppydog in that café, day after day, waiting for her to come. Well, she did show up about a week after, again alone. This time, I was determined to introduce myself. After about 15 minutes of stalling, I got up, headed over to the games shelf, grabbed a chess game (all the backgammon games were used) and turned and started to walk toward her table - then I stopped cold. When my back was to her, a new person came in. I turned to see this new person hug my dream woman, and give her a full kiss that could mean nothing but an undying love for each other. I was emotionally crushed to powder.
I didn't go into Wim's for about 2 weeks after that, but when I did, old Wim himself was sitting at the small bar, and the place was almost empty. We talked a bit, then I broached the subject of the woman. Wim laughed in a sad way, and said he was aware of the whole thing. Wim is often observant of all the events in his little café, sitting there, reading a newspaper, playing a few games but always keeping an eye about the place. Wim told me he didn't know about her and her lover for he had never seen the other person before that day. He felt bad for me, but knew a little more by that point. He found out that my dream woman was in a long term relationship, and she was deeply in love. He spoke to her a few times since my last visit to Wim, and now he was acting as my informant and comforter.
Just then, my dream woman came into the café with her lover - her girlfriend.