She started working at his work early in October. Devin noticed her right away, saw her come in for her interview a few weeks before. She was exactly his type. She had a Winona Ryder thing going, except she was taller and prettier. He was totally enchanted and he said a quick little prayer that she might be in her mid to late twenties as opposed to 21.
She was 22. They had her killing time doing odd projects until the rest of her training class was hired and set to start. So they started crossing paths. One day, she wore a black skirt, black boots and a pink sweater. That was that. He had to talk to her. It was over. He fell quickly.
He ran into her the next day by the break room. He apologized for embarrassing her, but wanted to tell her how wonderful she looked the day before. She smiled, thanked him, went on her way.
After that, they would say hello in passing and that evolved into e-mails and the occasional phone call. He told her his age right away and though surprised, she didn’t seem particularly taken aback or put off. In his mind, she was too young, yes, too damn young, but she was an adult, she wasn’t 18 for God’s sake, and it’s not like he was asking to marry her. He just wanted to spend some time getting to know her a little bit, and if he ended up kissing her at some point, well, what was wrong about that? She was, after all, infinitely beautiful and that cancelled any reservations he may have had about the difference in their ages.
But the problem was, young and beautiful didn’t necessarily mean interesting. He didn’t, for example, ever recall her saying something that made him think, “Huh, that’s a good point.” She had never said anything to elicit the response, “Oh my God, that is so funny!” He knew he cut her too much slack in that department. He forgave a lot of shortcomings because of her appearance. The Winona Ryder thing cancelled out a lot. If he ever got her in bed, he couldn’t care less if she was funny or interesting, as long as she was naked, because that would make her downright fascinating.
He made mistakes, though, on a daily basis. Mistakes that almost certainly wouldn’t lead to a long, sweaty embrace that took up most of a weekend. He came on too strong, tried too hard, cared too quickly. Another principle from the film, The Tao of Steve, was that “it’s human nature to pursue that which retreats from us.” This was another thing to work on, to add to his game. To hell with being a nice guy. In the modern American world, he needed to establish a quick, powerful impression and then disappear like a scene from her favorite movie, like a commercial with himself as the product. He was not naturally inclined to go about things this way, but he was learning that flowers and poetry were just so much sugar. These women wanted the mystery. They didn’t want it to be easy. They wanted to hunt.
Time passed. Days were crossed off. Leaves came off trees. Devin’s deep, rosy interest in Maria faded with the changing season. She became less and less interesting as it became more and more clear that he was not going to see her jeans lying on his floor after all.