38. Ritual

I have some symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. When I’m in my kitchen, I have a little ritual that I perform. First I tap the right front corner of the sink, then the middle of the front edge of the sink, then the left front corner of the sink, then the counter halfway between the sink and the inside corner, then the inside corner of the counter, then halfway between the inside corner and the stove, then the corner of the counter right by the stove. These seven taps are performed with the right hand, and are followed up with a snap of the fingers of my left hand, which I hold up so I can see the reflection of my snapping fingers in the glass of the display cabinet across the kitchen.

One day I did this, and something happened. Precisely in sync with the snap of my fingers, a woman appeared in the middle of the kitchen. I started violently in surprise and alarm, of course, but even as I did so, I noticed a few things. First, that she was facing me, and that I found her mind-achingly attractive. Second, that her right hand was held out as though touching something at counter height, and her left was held up as though she had just snapped her fingers. She started violently at about the same time I did. She had the advantage of not being right next to the stove, so she was denied the joy of banging her crazy bone against the handle of the oven door.

Of course, I realize now that the quick pain enabled the scene to progress. Otherwise, we both would have stood there gawping and sputtering, I’m sure. As it was, I clutched my elbow and grunted in pain, as she winced in sympathy and leaned ever-so-slightly towards me. It was like having the sun break out from behind the clouds.

“Are you okay?” she asked tentatively.

“Yeah,” I said, “I just bumped… What the hell are you doing here?”

She shrugged emphatically. “I have no idea. I was just… That is…” Her voice trailed off.

“Were you tapping on your counter?” I asked. The painful tingling in my elbow was beginning to fade.

Her face tightened, just a little, in embarrassment. “How did you know?”

“I do the same thing,” I said. The unreality of the situation was melting in the furnace of my desire to be near her, hold her. “It’s just… Something I do.” I chuckled lamely. “In fact, I was just doing it when you, er, showed up.”

Her face relaxed again. “So was I. I always start at the right of the sink,” she said.

“Then the middle of the sink,” I cut in.

“Then the left of the sink,” we said together, starting to laugh. We finished that way, describing our identical counter-tapping rituals to one another, and then shared a little grin.

“That’s funny,” she said.

“Yeah,” I agreed.

I’m not exactly sure how we ended up in each other’s arms. All I remember is that it felt effortless and instantaneous. And then — oh then! I was holding her, touching her, kissing her, tasting her. I was dizzy with wanting. As we embraced, we pressed our bodies deliciously close, moving and shifting slightly until it felt as though we were molded together. Our lips were fused, our tongues dancing. We made little noises in our throats that communicated our deep, obliviating need.

We went all the way, of course. Before we even left the kitchen, in fact. And it was fabulous.

Eventually, we got to talking. Her name was Faith, and it turned out that she lived a couple miles away. I drove her home. That night, I tried to call her but kept getting a busy signal. After a while, I got through, and learned that the busy signal had been from her trying to call me at the same time.

We got married in pretty short order, and it’s been eight years now. We are very happy. People ask how we met, and we just smile inscrutably.

We both still tap on the counter.

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