We are thrilled to publish Torrey Crim’s “A Thing of Little Consequence” in New Voices today. This story is a reflection on a relationship; Crim’s prose gathers in power, progresses lyrically, and creates within itself a fitting sensation of déjà vu.
I was, at that time in my life, working at a restaurant in Manhattan, which I hated. It paid decent money, which was hard to come by then, and at the least it allowed me to sleep in, or get up early and have the day to myself, and that was worth something. I was a hostess, which means I was hired mostly for my looks. By that, I mean I’m tall, and I had grown my hair quite long, and I wasn’t averse to keeping my shirt partially unbuttoned.
Adam was the one benefit of working at that restaurant; or rather, he was the one thing that mattered about working at that restaurant. There was something at work in me, back then, which I have only recently begun to identify and understand. It took me years before I really felt again, for anybody, what I felt for Adam.
The strange thing about Adam was that right away I needed attention from him. He dropped by the host stand each day when he came in and stood for a moment or two to say hello. He was thin and blond, an inch taller than me, and a year younger. He was a line cook. I was very ambitious, though in a vague way, and at first I thought that Adam lacked ambition. He seemed happy, an idea I’ve never really trusted.
But when he came in, distracted, and didn’t say hello to me in the morning, I was offended. And it wasn’t that I felt like I deserved his attention, it was that I suddenly was afraid that I wasn’t worth his attention. Maybe once a week he would forget to say hello, and I suspected that his lapse merely indicated his disinterest in me altogether; that he was just being polite.
I told him so, once, when a group of us went out for a beer after work on a Saturday night. I did it in a teasing way, of course, as if I didn’t really care. He was embarrassed. He wasn’t skilled, particularly, at navigating situations like this. He was too honest. What a skilled man would have done is flirt back, tease me, draw me out a little. Adam apologized, which mortified me. If I’d really liked him at that point it would have turned me off. As it was, I felt quite tender toward him. Some people are like that. I had this fount of affection for him before I ever knew him well.
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