“Trisha!” the man called.
The woman, on the verge of entering the coffee shop, looked up and there he was, embracing her and kissing her.
“Trisha! I haven’t seen you since oh my God you’re not Trisha.”
She shook her head a little, still caught in the surprise. “Gwen.”
“Oh, I am so sorry. I thought … well, obviously I thought you were my friend from college.”
“You must have been close to her.”
“We were pretty good friends.”
“Like you’re still close to me.”
He let go of her and took a step back. “Sorry, sorry.” He looked at the ground a moment in embarrassment. Then he looked at Gwen again. “I’m Travis, by the way.”
“I’m still Gwen.”
“Now that I get a better look at you, it’s not like you’re Trisha’s twin or anything. Something about your hairstyle and the way you were carrying yourself, I guess.” He paused. “Actually, you’re prettier than Trisha. But don’t tell her I said that.”
Gwen smiled slightly. “I won’t. If we ever meet.”
“Um, yeah. Which you probably won’t. Part of why I was so surprised to see you, I mean her, I mean…”
“I’m with you.”
“Well, she lives on the other coast. I wouldn’t expect to see her here.”
“OK, then I won’t expect to meet someone who kind of looks like me but I’m prettier than her.”
Travis laughed. “Um … I’m sorry. I must seem six kinds of idiot.” He looked at the door of the coffee shop. “Can I buy you a cup of coffee? Make it up to you? And, just maybe prove I’m not ready for a straitjacket?”
Gwen regarded him for a moment. “I’ll take that coffee. But you’re going to have to talk fast to avoid that straitjacket.”
He smiled through his embarrassment and she found it charming. He opened the door and she preceded him into the coffee shop.
Forty minutes later, he had her full name and phone number and an agreement to go out to dinner Friday night.
And, he thought, if things continued to go so well, on their honeymoon he could tell her the story of a shy young man who invented a college friend named Trisha to give himself a flimsy excuse to hug and kiss a particular young woman at least once.