Tony Driscoll sat at his usual corner table in the student center coffee shop. He glanced at the headlines of the free student newspaper and shook his head in dismay. No real news, but it was early in the year. He was amazed Old Dimwitty could come up with anything for the first week of the semester. He turned his attention to the crossword puzzle on the back page of the publication and laughed at how easy the first five clues were. He would have this done in no time.
He paused as the door to the coffee shop opened, and one of the most beautiful girls he had ever laid his eyes on entered the room, followed by some pathetic loser he assumed was her boyfriend by the way he held his hand on her back. ‘How did a guy like that end up with a beautiful girl like her?’ he wondered.
To his delight, they sat at a table not very far from him. The girl was facing him. He glanced under the table and noticed that she was wearing a short, pleated skirt, no stockings, and sandals. The outfit showed off her legs very nicely. He raised his eyes to look at her face. It seemed like she was looking right at him. He smiled, but the girl paid no attention. She was wrapped up in her conversation with Bozo the Clown.
Tony lowered his head, pretending to study the crossword puzzle, even as he leaned his head ever so slightly in the couple’s direction. He could just barely make out what they were saying.
“What would you like to eat, Meg? You can have anything you want. I’ll pick up the check, and you don’t have to worry about a thing. Dad sent me money in the mail Saturday.”
“Keith, listen. I need to tell you something.”
“What’s up, sugar?”
“Oh, Keith! I wish you wouldn’t call me that.”
“Why? What’s the matter? You never minded it before.”
Megan exhaled sharply and blurted out, “I’ve changed, Keith. You’ve changed. We’ve both changed so much that I don’t know who either one of is anymore. I don’t think we should be together. We’re just too different.”
“What? I don’t think I heard you correctly, Megan. It sounded like you said you don’t think we should be together anymore.”
“That’s exactly what I said, Keith. I’m sorry. We want different things out of life. I want to serve God in the mission field, and you want to help your father run his antique business. I couldn’t take you away from that dream that you’ve had ever since you were a little boy. And I can’t let my love for you keep me from doing what I feel God has called me to do.”
“Love? Your love for me? If you really loved me, you would try to make this work, Meg.”
“It’s not as simple as that. Please, try to understand.”
“Understand? Understand?” Now Tony didn’t even have to strain to hear what they were saying. Keith’s voice was raised enough for everyone in the coffee shop to hear. All activity around the room stopped, and all eyes focused on the quarrelling pair. Keith shot out of the chair, knocking it over in the process.
“Keith, please sit down,” Meg pleaded.
“Why? So I won’t embarrass you? You were right about one thing, Meg. We do want different things out of life. I wanted to marry you. I was going to ask you out to dinner tonight to propose. That’s what I wanted.”
Keith pulled a small black jewelry box out of his pocket and threw it across the table at her. “Go ahead! Look at it. That’s one of the reasons I asked my dad to send me some money, so that I could buy you a decent ring.”
Megan picked up the box and saw the gleaming one-carat round-cut diamond, surrounded by four little round baguettes on either side.
“I – it – it’s,” Megan stammered.
“It’s perfect - just what you always wanted. I know.”
“I can’t accept this. You know that.”
“Right, ‘cause you’re breaking up with me. Fine, but I don’t want the thing. Have a nice life, Meg. I hope someday you’ll realize what you’re giving up here.”
Keith picked up the ring box, and tossed it at the nearest trashcan. Several people sitting near them lunged for the trashcan and started rifling through it. Tony saw the box lying on the floor next to the wall by his table. ‘Poor guy can’t even aim well. She was right to dump that loser,’ Tony thought as he discreetly pocketed the treasure.
Keith stormed out of the coffee shop, leaving Megan alone. Most of the other people left after Keith did. The atmosphere was now too uncomfortable to enjoy a nice leisurely breakfast. Of the people who had been sitting on the same side of the room where all the drama occurred, only Tony remained. He watched as Megan silently sobbed into the coffee cup and plate of eggs and bacon that the waitress mercifully brought out to her.
He sat very still for several moments, head facing down toward the paper. His eyes rolled up in Megan’s direction. He was waiting for the right moment. He didn’t want to just rush over. That would seem too obvious. He had to play it cool. He wanted everything to be just perfect when he first talked to the love of his life.