His name is Matthew, but I call him Pup.
Partly because he reminds me of a Rhodesian Ridgeback, and partly because he’s younger than I.
“What should I write about today, Pup?” I asked while he drove me through the streets of Charlotte.
“I don’t know,” Pup said, “you’re the writer.”
Today, Pup and I met for lunch at an outdoor pizzeria across a busy intersection from the coffee house in which he works part-time as a barista. It was a beautiful day in Charlotte. Not too warm, with a gentle breeze.
We developed a wonderful cadence; an ease of conversation; the give and take of interest. The only quiet spots arose when a question was posed that required a thoughtful answer.
After pizza, we went across the street to the coffee house. Pup ordered me a double espresso. “How’d you know I liked double espresso?” I asked him.
“Because you said it at lunch,” he answered.
“Really? I mean, really, you listened?” I asked surprised.
“Of course I was listening,” he replied quietly, “What did you think I was doing during lunch?”
Following, Pup and I climbed into his car and drove around Charlotte. Pup pointed out gentrified areas, tony areas. I felt such an ease around him. When I would get pensive and stare out the window, Pup would prompt “What’re you thinking about?”
“Oh, I’m just far away, Pup,” I answered.
“From me?” he asked.
Turning to face him, watching him drive, I placed my hand comfortably on his thigh, “Oh no, Pup, not you. I’m very close to you.”