He is, if nothing else can be said (and it can), at least a decent man. He is a sort of super-respectful that tinges on the obscene because one cannot help thinking it’s some kind of elaborate stunt. No one is that grateful. There was talk among my co-workers about what sort of deviant had to pretend to be that nice. Overcome with curiosity (my natural state) I finally cornered him and found that he had no idea what to say beyond his stock pleasantries, and that actual conversation rendered him panicked. But my curiosity was satisfied: a decent man.
There are parents who claim busy lives and make a point of greeting you with talk about how they almost pulled a muscle over the weekend, or the pile of paperwork that awaits, or – etc. These are generally the same people who show up with pillow marks on their faces at the very end of the day. And they always have time to talk about whomever just left the room. So of course they nickname each other. I stay out of it, feign ignorance in the extreme, but hey – thanks for the pseudonyms. They’ve given me ‘Hot Dad’, ‘Skeletor’, and – almost – Señor Jeggings. I recovered from extreme amusement to remember the word I’d bandied about so happily earlier: decent.
So I had to tell him – without telling him. I had to convince him that his lower body was unfortunately clothed, and I had about two minutes before his pleasantries dried and he bolted. “Um, so, being as how you’re not American, and -” He was looking at me, wide-eyed, as if I were about to arrest him. So I began to talk, too fast, about how jeggings were just sort of an unfortunate choice of clothing and I was just, just mentioning it for no reason in particular, and also he appeared to be a really decent polite human being so someone should tell him, just, well, random bits of cultural information, because who knows what’s relevant, and when, and – he cut me off. “Okay, thank you,” he was backing away slowly. “Well, just think of what I said, later, when you have alone time!” He nodded, apprehensive.
Two days later he appeared dressed unremarkably normal head to toe. “You know,” he started “I guess I have to thank you again, because, well, where I’m from, if someone is wearing, well – other people, will tell, because it is the right thing to do after all, and -” I cut him off. “You’re welcome and I have no idea what you’re talking about.” There was a moment of silence. “Um, also, this is a wink.” I winked.
“I know what a wink is.” he informed me earnestly. “Of course you do, I just . . . do you want to go back to stock pleasantries?” He sighed, relieved. “Desperately. But can I wink at you sometimes?”
“This is a shrug.”