It was almost 3 a.m. and I am standing in a Walgreens with a perfect stranger, who was easily twice my size. His 6'3" frame was suddenly daunting as he palmed each of the Pepsi cases in each hand. There was nothing average about his physique. His shoulders were broad and his shirt couldn't hide the fact that his body was carved from years of actual work. His forearms were twice as wide as mine and his hands made the cases of Pepsi look tiny. He was giving me a confused look, and all I could say was, "There are cameras everywhere. They have seen your face if my kidneys go missing." He smiled.
I don't quite know why I swiped right. I didn't find him terribly attractive, but his name caught my eye, and his profile made me laugh.
"So what does the position of Supreme Overlord entail?"
And it began. We quickly became friends, with the understanding that it would stay just that. I had a lover at the time and he had a sick mom as well as a strenuous work schedule. I was deemed his Lady Tactician. "LT" for short. Our imaginations ran wild as we turned our daily mundane tasks into stories of battles and espionage. What went from random conversations became "Good Mornings" as soon as one of us woke and the last "Good Nights". When we ran out of things to talk about, we would make up stories to tell each other. Friday nights, he would call and have me fill him in on everything that happened during the week. It didn't matter how unimportant some of it was, he said he wanted to hear it all.
Finally, I convinced him to drive the hour down and go on a walk.
"I don't want you to be disappointed. That was an old picture, and I'm afraid with everything going on, I haven't had time to keep my physique as it was." I told him I didn't care. I just wanted to go on a walk. His physique wouldn't be an issue unless he couldn't keep up.
We picked a gas station to meet at. As I walked up with Roxy, I scanned the area. I didn't see him, but when I texted him, he said he saw me. I scanned the parking lot again confused. The only man I saw paying attention to me was much taller than I had anticipated. I raised an eyebrow as he approached and he met me with his stone gaze. "LT." he nodded. I glanced at Roxy, then sized him up again. "I thought you said you weren't in shape any more." For a second his demeanor broke, and I caught a surprised smile, that vanished as suddenly as it appeared.
We walked over six miles that night. Some of the walk was spent talking, the other was in comfortable silence. We covered the whole South West side of Champaign. Strangely, I felt secure walking with him. He was observant to our surroundings. Never once did he making a move or make an inappropriate comment. I appreciated his stoic demeanor. It became a game to see how I could break his composure- to make him laugh. With every one of my sassy or snarky comments, he would lift his chin and gaze down at me with an "Oh really?" but a distinct twinkle in his eye.
Eventually, we wandered back to my part of town. I asked if he wouldn't mind if I stopped and got some Pepsi (of course) from the Walgreens we were passing. As we walked in, he made some comment about 3 for $10, or whatever the sale was. I waved it off, mumbling something about just grabbing one because I didn't want to carry all three home. He handed me one as he picked up two more. When I turned to argue with him, I froze. I don't know how I had made it through hours of walking with him and had not realized what an imposing figure he was. He was beautiful, and for a moment I was terrified. I joked about my Kidneys, but I realized in that moment that something had either gone wonderfully wrong or terribly right.