Friday, June 15, 2012

The Man in the Silk Paisley Vest

 As I circled the measuring tape around his chest, Ethan raised his arms. He was the last of the five groomsmen I was measuring for paisley silk vests to be worn with their tuxedoes. Suddenly the fitting room in my shop felt warm.
I don't know why. The other four men were mannequins to me, but Ethan's warm chest and back and the scent of his musky cologne somehow made him come alive.
Finished with the groomsmen, all of them tall and handsome, perhaps my age—twenty-five—I said, "I'll call when it's time for a fitting." Four of the five groomsmen, smiled, said, "Thanks," and piled out the door.
But Ethan—blonde and broad-shouldered, perhaps the tallest of the men—lingered and said, "I can't believe how you can measure someone, then take a piece of cloth, cut it, sew it, and make it into a piece of clothing—I mean you're making the bridal dress and the bridesmaids' dresses, too, aren't you?"
"And dresses for the flower girls," I said, and felt flattered that he was interested. I knew if I looked into his blue eyes, I'd blush, so I looked away and said, "Sewing's in my blood. My mom and grandmother are seamstresses, too. They're helping with this project, and someday I'll be taking over their business, with lots of help from them, of course."
"I understand what it takes to be creative," he said. "I build clocks. Early American grandfather clocks, German cuckoo clocks—you name it, and I want to say I appreciate your artistry. I think it's awesome."
This time I couldn't stop myself from blushing. "Well...thank you."
We talked a bit more. We were both single, not involved with anyone. I gathered Ethan was too busy to become involved romantically. Besides working as a clockmaker, he was also studying to be a jeweler. Suddenly he glanced at his watch and said he had to run; it was nice to meet me. I hated to see him leave, but I knew I'd see him again and wondered if he'd be thinking of me.
A week later he showed up with the other groomsmen for the fitting of the vests and again lingered as the others left. "My vest fits beautifully," he said. "It'll be a life-long treasure." Then, "How have you been, Carly?"
His asking and his remembering my name amazed me. Was he truly interested? "Been working like crazy finishing the dresses for the wedding." Thinking I might coax him into staying a bit longer, I said, "Would you like a cup of herbal tea?"
My hopes rose when he said, "I'd love a cup of tea," but they plummeted when he added, "But I can't stay," and shot a looked at his watch. "I'm in a hurry this morning. Well...I'll see you sometime."
But I wouldn't see him. There were no more fittings. A handsome, intriguing man—someone whom I could be interested in—had just walked out of my life. My heart ached a bit. Get over it, Carly! Be happy.
Then a week before the wedding, an invitation came in the mail, a hand-written note at the bottom. Sorry for being so late with this. Please attend. I want you to witness your beautiful creations. RSVP.
A single woman attending a wedding alone stands out like a sore thumb, but I shoved that thought aside: I'd love to see my dresses, and I knew Ethan would be there.
A lively reception followed a beautiful wedding. When the music started, Ethan eased onto a chair next to me, a warm smile sweeping across his face, and my heart skipped. "Your dresses have made this affair even more elegant. And you look spectacular."
Heat rushed over me. "Thank you. And so do you."
He gave me a sly grin.
"It's my paisley vest. Shall we dance?"
As Ethan and I circled our arms around each other on the dance floor, a slow tune beating softly in the background, his cologne scent drifted about, and I felt as if I'd melt. "I hoped you'd be here," he said. "I checked the guest list, saw your RSVP, and then hoped you'd be alone. Because I've been thinking..." His voice trailed off.
"Well, I almost called you a dozen times since we first met."
I gazed up at him. "Why didn't you?"
"Look," he said. "I'm...always so busy. Always on the run."
"I know that feeling."
"I've decided I need to re-prioritize my life. Put first things first." He cleared his throat; his Adam's apple bobbed. "That means...I wonder if we could spend some time together...if you don't mind."
His blue eyes fixed on me. He seemed a little breathless, waiting for an answer, and I couldn't stop my mouth from hanging open a bit or my heart from fluttering. Mind? Do I mind?  "I don't mind at all," I said, and snuggled in closer to his paisley silk vest.